Minimum Viable Painkillers Or Too Many Notes?

I gave up. I had a problem that I literally have recordings of people crying and screaming over. I myself have watched my hands shake over it before. I’ve been trying for years now to develop a painkiller for that. And granted – I’ve really sucked as a developer (getting better), and I’ve always been developing it along with vitamins around it. Why? Because it did need one supplement in order to work, although I added a lot more.

But it’s still on my mind! It feels like walking away from gold to sell copper. In giving up, I’m now selling vitamins instead of painkillers. And I just do not want to play salesman! I want a product so good that it speaks for itself – not something that you have to shove down people’s throats. I don’t care what you think. I did all kinds of sales jobs and learned sales from young. It sounds like I’m a naive idealist amateur, but I’m not.

I overdeveloped. That’s the deathtrap of any developer or startup. But I don’t care. I’d still rather overdo it and then cut back instead of underdo it and then risk people not really getting ‘it’. People don’t say what they want or are really thinking alot of the time. Sure, they’ll tell you their opinion and what they need. But, more often than not, they don’t even know what they want until they’ve tried it. You can ask or tell a kid to eat raw fish and they would likely say No! But you can ask or tell a kid to eat sushi and they might, and they might even like it. Presentation is everything and Tech is not discluded from that adage – no matter what every single person in the tech industry says.

Lean startup is not a religion. It is not the only way. Supposedly open-minded people ironically are the most closed-minded about the building process. Supposedly independent thinkers follow what others are doing and thinking more than I think any other industry!! Supposedly analytical people often just follow each other – whether investing (are they in this round?), this way works, that way doesn’t (lean religion!), and subsequently end up supporting mainly people like themselves (hence the 2% of women and .02% for women of color getting funding… meritocracy based, really?) and what I call SMS: small, mediocre, and safe – which is literally the death of innovation.

And above all, in my opinion, there are NEVER too many notes. (from the movie Amadeus) Mozart didn’t care what he was told, and kept ‘too many notes.’ Rachmaninoff obviously liked too many notes, and was that a crime? And before you get snooty, music and tech are not entirely mutually exclusive. No creative process is. I’m sure you can think of examples. Maybe there really are “neither more nor less.” I love too many notes. I hate too few notes. Too few notes is what happens alot with startups trying to be safe, logical, and by the book… which investors just eat up with a silver spoon.

I might be entirely wrong. Maybe the ‘right’ way to do it truly is to develop only minimum viable painkillers. Then build up.

The hardest part of the whole process is that damn carrot – making you think that the answer is just around the corner if you just try one more time. One time can become a thousand times. Or more. But maybe that is how innovation happens, regardless of what we like to think about the overnight success or accident. The founder of Slack, Steward Butterfield, has a story that haunts me. He tried until he couldn’t anymore to build the game that never ends. And then when he literally couldn’t anymore – not like walk away while it’s still safe couldn’t, truly literally could not anymore.. he took a morsel of that, what they built to communicate with each other, and that became Slack. That’s what I heard anyway. Disclaimer: this is a blog and not a fact-checking news outlet.

But everyone has a different story. It’s nice to hear stories. But it’s dangerous to hang on to them like they are the answer. Everyone has a different question, a different process, and a different ending… it’s unreasonable to assume that stories are likely to have the same ending just to make yourself feel better. Fuck the carrot. I’m accepting vitamins. I overbuilt so I have 100 different vitamins to try selling. Maybe overbuilding really isn’t that bad? And of course, maybe it is!


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