Swing For The Fences, Not The Low-Hanging Fruit

Disclaimer: The views in this post are my personal views and have nothing to do with my employer.

I am at TechCrunch Disrupt NY and it’s been a fun, inspiring, and exciting five days. The hackathon, battlefield, companies in the startup alley – it has been great.

However, I am seeing far too much of the same. Apps and sites that, at the core of their business, are simply about social experiences, sharing, aggregators, and more (and not necessarily better) ways of connecting with friends and strangers. I am not against this – there are some important problems to be solved in this space but they are few and you’re going to have a hard time discovering the hidden gem – more a matter of chance than of you applying your mind. What I am seeing more of are just evolutionary changes, deltas to the existing. An incremental use of an API here, a location there, a social graph.

We are in a time of computing where it’s almost cliche´ to talk about how the barrier to entry has been lowered. EC2, APIs, web frameworks, javascript libraries, real-time web technologies, mobile SDKs have all made web and mobile development very accessible, if not easier. In light of all these advances, I’d really love to see more startups and minds tackling the hard problems – bridging the virtual and physical worlds in meaningful ways, mining volumes of data to extract patterns, tools and products to make our lives much more efficient and productive.