I came across this blog post yesterday from Bijan Sabet, General Partner at Spark Capital in Boston. Spark has been pretty successful of late with their investment in Twitter. To read more about Spark & Bijan, check out these links: bijansabet.com, sparkcapital.com. In the meantime, I wanted to comment on how what we’re doing at bGreen falls into what Bijan terms VSCF.
What’s most important: features, schedule or vision?
I learned a lot of valuable lessons working with Steve Perlman at WebTV Networks and Moxi Digital.
If you worked or met with Steve you would easily agree with me that his passion is nothing but extraordinary. He is positively obsessed about building amazing products.
I learned other things from Steve as well. One of my favorites is V.S.C.F.
Those letters stand for: Vision. Schedule. Cost. Features. And in that order.
This is how how Steve explained it to me:
1. Vision. Without a doubt, the founder’s vision of the product is the most important thing. Everything flows from that vision. I couldn’t agree more.
2. Schedule. Steve would often say, “Market windows don’t move”. Shipping the product on time is a big deal. If you slip late the market may no longer be there. Schedule trumps cost & features. Especially in a world of software or connected devices you can always add software improvements later (e.g. iTunes App Store is a beautiful example).
3. Cost. Cost is a bit tricky to think about when it comes to consumer internet applications vs consumer electronics like WebTV or iPhone. Cost is important. But you have to get the vision & schedule right. Cost will improve over time if the product is great along with engineering innovation & volume. We subsidized WebTV in the early days. One could argue that was a derivative of freemium.
4. Features. There is no question that features are important but vision, schedule and cost are more important. I think that’s right. Consider Twitter as an example. They shipped early, with less features and with a powerful vision that drives the company’s every move.
I keep VSCF in my mind all the the time.
1. Vision. I think we’re pretty clear on that. It’s on our “About” page, it’s on our pitch sheet, and it’s on our minds all the time. We want bGreen to be THE destination for green and eco-friendly lifestyle and building products. It’s a new market. Products are being introduced every day. We think we can be a leader in providing only the best of the best of these products, affordably, in a completely transparent new-agey manner.
2. Schedule. Well, this is something we’re having a bit of trouble with. First, we were on schedule. Then we were slightly behind schedule. Now I’d say we’re about a month behind schedule. We’ve been tweeting and blogging, but we really wanted to have our website up and running quicker. We’re pretty nit-picky, and we’ve been through about 27 different revisions of the site. Go ahead, ask our web developer, Greenstein Consulting. I’m not sure they love us right now. Taking some advice from Bijan, I think we’re going to make sure to put the website out real soon, whether it’s done or not. Again, the green market is new and evolving, so that may buy us a bit more time, but we don’t want to push it.
3. Cost. I have to modify the cost issue a little bit to make it fit our plan, but hear me out. We don’t have an app or electronic product, so the cost issue isn’t exactly the same as Bijan mentions above. Currently, we’re providing content for free. We’re blogging (which hopefully you’ll find worth reading), tweeting (which is great to keep up on news, insight, and the inner workings of bGreen), and launching a website soon (which will have all sorts of green news, information, and product info). Our goal on the cost side is to build an audience. Get people interested in our product and what we have to offer. Eventually, we’ll probably move to the freemium model. The free will be the conent on the blog, twitter, and website. The “mium” will be the products we offer for sale. Lifestlye products at first, then moving into building materials shortly thereafter. Cost is an issue with green. The stigma attached is that green is more expensive. It’s a huge problem. We’re going to try and show the consumer that not only is green afforable, but often the products are more durable, will last longer, and they’re better for you and the environment.
4. Features. Aside from the website, blog, twitter, and products, we hope to offer a few other things that will make bGreen THE destination for eco-friendly lifestyle & buidling products. Video is most certainly one of the avenues we’ll pursue. How to’s, product demos, the bGreen guys in the wild. It’s all part of our grand plan. There’s more to tell and we’re super excited about it, but the time has not yet come to reveal our plans to the world. Stay tuned.