In the world of startups, words like innovation, hip, and trendy go together like bread and butter. Countless products are built and millions of dollars are spent on creating the next big thing. Innovation undoubtedly requires vision and to some extent an uncanny ability to predict the future. Peter Thiel famously called this the “secret” that only you can see about the world.
Many products, however, especially ones designed for the public, tend to be extremely sensitive to human behavior and as a result are often disproportionately driven by external social pressures. So much so in fact, that oftentimes entire products are created based on social trends alone. Thus, their longevity is necessarily contingent on what’s “in” right now. An inherently fleeting phenomenon.
Products that seek to add long term value on the other hand offer much more stability. Lasting, Lindy-esque products are not subject to the whims of society. These are what startup gurus like to call perennial products. The elusive and seemingly crazy ideas that end up turning entire industries upside down. The hind-sight-is-20-20 types.
In the end, I think the decision to build or not to build something comes down to core company values. Perhaps, as a founder, asking yourself a simple question may give the answer.
Is your product built for the user, the whole user, and nothing but the user, so help you God?
If yes, chase value, not trends.