Sunday, February 26, 2012

Whose Idea Was It Anyway

Someone came up to me the other night - "Hi Steve, remember me, we had that meeting when I pitched a business social network idea back in 2003. You weren't interested. Well it became Linked In". Doh!

I was gutted - more embarrassed because I couldn't remember the meeting than because I'd missed the opportunity. As it was at that time I was so busy doing my own thing that I simply didn't have time to look at other ideas. Massive apologies to this person as I probably was so stuck up my own arse I can imagine I was dismissive too quickly. 

It made me think after about other occurrences of missed opportunities. 

One of my friends loves to tell the story of me pitching an idea to our then board at FriendsReunited to move our database away from just school friends and to become a contact system for all your friends, with added blogging (which had just started happening), events, games and message boards. I've still got the screens somewhere I knocked up. It fell on deaf ears - although we did try to do a sub site called called Connections which failed pretty miserably. I am not saying my idea was Facebook but it had the seeds of it. This was probably 2003.

Not long after, a chat with a colleague at FR and we came up with an idea to extend FR beyond your school to create a life chart of your life. After I left FR in 2005 he went onto incorporate into FR - but I am not sure of its success. I started my own little project where I wrote a Lifechart personal site, went through all my old diaries and loaded it with my life. Then added lots of world events, number one's football games etc to see what was happening around different events in my life. Basically Facebook TimeLine. (a sample of the many thousands of entries in mine is below - it was only for me hence why it looks shite)

Am I bitter? Not in the slightest - my fault for not doing anything about them. I am actually pretty happy with my lot of FR and GR (although a little piece of Facebook and/or Linked In would actually have been the icing on the cake)

When Julie came up with the idea of finding her old school friends in 1999, we went away and did a lot of research. I never tried to hide the fact that we found an already well established site in America called Classmates. There were also other smaller versions dotted around the world. We just knew we could do it better, bigger and grander. Hence FriendsReunited was born.

A lot of people came up to be over the course of FR and said they had the same idea, mostly friendly, some bitter. One even tried to sue us (ridiculously) based on the most funner tenuous links (hmmmm - thats an idea for another rant another time) - he even sent a "dossier" out to all the newspapers about this "outrage" - strangely it was never printed. Although a story about a fucking madman would have been nearer the truth.

Anyway - the point. Everyone has ideas - especially tech and internet ideas. Everyone talks about them and how it can make them millionaires. Only a handful actually do anything about it and that is all about application and making it better than anyone else's. Hats off to anyone who has tried. And for the rest, keep dreaming.

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