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Entrepreneurs, Be the New Social Worker for Our Age

How did Instagram do it? They are not the only image-sharing app. People with MBA backgrounds are stuck in the dark ages.

Image representing Kevin Systrom as depicted i...

Image via CrunchBase

If you want to run a good startup, it’s important to think like a social worker. I don’t mean enforce the laws of a state or a city. I mean, think with empathy. Decide by feeling.

I come to this conclusion after reading about a talk at Le Web led by the founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom.

“In the last 2 months we’ve doubled staff, and will be about 10 people in a month. Even though Odeo didn’t go anywhere, it was clear that Twitter cam about because we learned ‘Team’ was so important.”

He also recalled how another failed project Bourbon failed not because they had a moment of revelation that it wasn’t going to work, but that they didn’t have that moment. “There wasn’t a dark moment with Bourbon. It’s the lack of that dark moment that kills most startups.”

Tsotsis pointed out that photo apps and filters existed before Instagram, so how did they get big? Instagram just made it easier to produce beautiful photos, as well as share, said Systrom.

But what if Apple of Facebook did an app with filters?

Instagram is not about filters, said Systrom. “The defensible asset is the community, nowhere else would you find such passionate users.”

Image representing Alexia Tsotsis as depicted ...

Image via CrunchBase

TechCrunch writer Alexia Tsotsis gets stuck on just the marketing angle, or the product description, of Instagram. Product descriptions and marketing are just shorthand, they don’t mean anything. That’s why we have to have these founders up on stage explaining themselvse and the product now and again, over and over.

The last time Tsotsis thought that a photo-sharing app was just another photo-sharing app, I had to correct her. This was the case with Hipster. It’s not like there should only be one photo-sharing app, and that one does it better than all the rest. In the apps world, and in social media, startups can’t compete on performance.

Why? Because it always comes down to the consumer. It’s about WHO is using the product, and HOW, not what the product is. I know this is hard to swallow, but it’s the truth. It’s the world we live in.

If you want to run a really great company, spend all of your time, or at least 90% of your time, making relationships work. Be a good person, find the people you share values with, and do not succumb to the thinking that you have to run a tight ship to really run a successful enterprise.

I learned this from traveling. Your best laid plans and expectations can have other plans and expectations for you.

What we really need when buying or hiring a special service or good is a sense that we belong to the same base of people who buy it with us. We want shared values, because our media and our news, for example, don’t provide us such faith anymore.

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