Solve A Problem, Not A Feature Set

Caterina Fake, founder of Pinwheel and Flickr, in an article talking about growing communities slowly also made this comment:

You shouldn’t get attached to a feature set. You should get attached to a problem you’re solving.

It took me a long time to make this differentiation. The last few years, as this distinction has become more obvious to me, has created a wealth of experimentation around this personal theme of working with numbers. Some experimentation was with products, others with partners. Most of the prototypes never saw the light of day, a few bombed and a few have succeeded.

The whole article is full of wonderful nuggets. Being the founder of one of the first great photo-sharing communities, Flickr, and a pioneer of the community-oriented Web 2.0 movement, Caterina would understand this better than most. She talks about how it takes time for a community to build “antibodies to spammers and trolls,” that it “takes time for the culture to grow,” and that the worse thing a start-up community can do is buy advertising to grow the community. It needs to grow organically as people find value in the site.