> email and spreadsheets?

Ash Maurya (of the super-helpful Lean Canvas framework) says that your main competitor as a new product is most likely not another startup or tech giant. It’s probably email and spreadsheets.

In other words, can someone just avoid using your app and use email and spreadsheets instead?

You might think, “Well, I’m making a game so that doesn’t apply to me!” Well… here’s an edtech version of Battleship thought up by a clever classroom teacher using Google sheets: https://www.controlaltachieve.com/2016/11/battlesheets.html

Leave it to teachers to get super resourceful and think of the easiest, low-cost way to get their shit done.

So what’s the takeaway here?

For me, it’s helpful to stay humble. Fancy new app ideas are sexy things. It’s lovely to dream up new features and roadmaps and be 100% certain how it’s going to be the best new thing since sliced bread. All before putting anything down on paper :-)

But it’s humbling to remember that grand plans can usually be solved by more simple tools. And when you stay focused on what your customers really need done in their lives, when you dig down and look for the problems to solve, the ones that can’t be handled with email and spreadsheets, when you talk and talk and talk to your audience… then you’ll find something worth building.

-Sam