Timing is Everything
As I was finishing my undergraduate degree in the late 90’s, I asked a question: Why did college textbooks have to be so expensive? I started to brainstorm with a colleague about the possibility of an affordable electronic device that could be loaded with all of your textbooks for college at a reduced price. We did some research and realized that there were Palm Pilot and Pocket PC devices already in the marketplace, but no one seemed to be working on a project involving books. There seemed to be an opportunity in the market. We went to work on creating an electronic device that could be loaded with books targeted to college students. We got legal counsel, prepared non-disclosure agreements, and worked on an interface design. We needed a prototype. We found an electronics engineering student at the University joined our team and began making the prototype. Just as the prototype was finished, Sony announced a new ebook device that would hit the market in 90 days. We were crushed. The funny thing is that the device failed. The market wasn’t ready for an ebook reader yet. It took nearly a decade for ebooks to be accepted into the mainstream.
Bindrup’s Advice: Be on the lookout for emerging trends, but don’t get too far ahead of the curve.
(Photo: Dimitar Nikolov, Creative Commons License, Some Right Reserved)
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