Can’t help noticing recently just how much we seem to be drawn, like bugs to light, to technological advances. Google Glass project, the eternal Apple versus ‘the rest of the world’ patent wars, the proposed mini iPad, wearable mobile communication applications, the HP transparent display monitors etc….. all fantastic and boundary pushing. My only caveat is that I do not see the important support noises being made from investors looking to back creative people who make all these inanimate pieces of tech actually come to life via their software, apps and all manner of content platforms. Noises from Silicon Valley recently proclaiming that hardware is ‘hot’ again make me wonder if we will ever get some investors to go the whole hog and and de-camp in ‘Createrville’?
Having witnessed the overly hyped and ultimately underwhelming Facebook IPO perhaps investors think that content is not the way to go…that would be a huge mistake, in my opinion.
Because its no good having a super-car in the garage and not have the juice to put in it for it to showcase its pedigree….. for example, Google Glasses will be a flop if the fortunate few developers who are waiting for them do not hit this new medium out of the park. In order for them to hit a home run they need a bank roll and a license to go farther in their imagination than before. I happen to believe that these Google Glasses will fundamentally change mobile computing and human interface experiences beyond all recognition and reset the time-line.
I will say however that there still remains a chance that the true majesty of these formats will not be fully realised for some years yet unless investors step up and fund creativity…big time and for a long time!
Now don’t get too excited for anything to ‘wow’ you next year, remember we have to endure the abuse of the technology first….what I mean is the ‘adult entertainment’ industry will have a field day, some sad and lonely single guy working on his PhD in ‘living as an observer’ will no doubt record a full year of his ‘oh so interesting life’, so we don’t miss a second! So when all that nonsense has been and gone we might see some breathtaking and useful applications being showcased. I expect great medical applications as well as law enforcement not to mention the age old question of whether the referee saw the infringement in sport answering applications …to name a few! When you consider that everything we do is a candidate for Google Glasses applications it makes you wonder what is going on in the corridors of power at ‘Investment Inc’….. are they too taken with the shiny box?
There is something visceral about manufacturing, it gives everyone an end result , something they can pick up and be photographed holding for the local paper but it is only in the local paper because it represents novel content….oh, the irony! The ‘content thing’ passes many people by, they think it just happens as a by product of being alive, they see content as ‘commentary’ more than ‘thought’.
Reality is that it is the ‘thought’ that drives everything….there is nothing in this world that exists today that was not originally a ‘thought’! Think about that!
My hope is that investors start to aggressively seek out creative folk , like you and me in this business, and actually truly value what we bring to the table…… they will say they do but tell me this:
If I go to an investor with a device designed to alert a new mother to the breathing patterns of her newborn child and help her avoid cot death …will I get a seat at the table to pitch my concept?
Yes I will , you can bet your bottom dollar on it……
If I went to an investor with a plan to produce a carefully crafted developmentally refined schedule of targeted filtered audio soundscapes which will assist in the natural maturation of the infant brain over a three year period thereby preventing learning problems related to literacy….would I get a seat at the table? Probably not… because it is not shiny, it takes too long and you can’t get emotionally invested in it quickly enough…so you go home and re-think.
The issue here is that as long as investors look for 3 or 5 year exit strategies we will never see serious content investment, even though we ALL know without content you have NOTHING!
When I spoke with my colleagues in Minneapolis about this post we exchanged viewpoints about why this impasse may exist…..one salient point raised was the question of communication channels and personality types in business. Anybody who has been inspired enough to create a new product will understand the immense tension one puts oneself through to get the ‘thought’ to become a physical reality. When I worked on my project ( mentioned it a few weeks ago….won’t bore you again!) I fell foul of the communication ‘bogie man’ on more than one occasion.
Painful as it was to admit ….I did not have all the answers!….staggering to me at the time though it was, it was true!!!! Progress was made when I put a buffer in between myself and the less creative minds who were taking my idea and transforming it into a reality…. in the process they started to think it was their idea….OMG!
This might be the impasse that nobody talks about, on the one hand we have creatives with ideas and ability to place them in context and on the other hand we have ‘money men’ who look at this precious ‘thought’ as a cash flow sucking high level risk……….. “it’s my money and I decide how much I will waste before this thing gets to the shelves!”
There surely is a place in this process for creatives to demonstrate that they do actually have good business minds and habits…they run businesses and help others, so perhaps they need to help themselves by learning the language of the investor. Now, I don’t mean ‘language of the investor’ in the sense of blowing smoke up things and making outlandish projections based upon desire more than reality , I mean learning how to develop a coherent communication style whereby creatives can allay investor fears whilst demonstrating their sensitivity to the risks being taken on their behalf.
Sometimes when people are coming from different viewpoints they tend to think that when they actually do start to ‘meet halfway’ they are already pretty much there!
In my many and varied experiences to date , I have found myself in some very difficult situations….mainly of my own construct…..as I have gotten a little older and wiser I have found that if I want someone to see things my way , I first, have to see things their way. It is in doing this we can understand why they hold these views and then structure a mutually beneficial period of learning about each other to achieve a common goal. Sounds a bit flowery BUT it is true in the vast majority of cases..where it is not….. stop talking and get out, go find someone you can talk with!
As desperate as you may be to get your idea from the paper to the production suite, perhaps you should think carefully before you do this……. not sure this is the language an investor is looking for….it might be a great item but it will have to be stellar to counteract this pitch!
So that poor guy has had three views for his pitch, I was number three….. enough said!
Have a look at this humorous animation detailing the conversation between an investor and a creative…….not suggesting it is how it should go but as they say “many a true word spoken in jest!”
So , where are we…. frustrated by a lack of investment or thinking about learning a new language?
see you on the long and winding road….. Patrick