06 July 2005

Attitude Adjustment

About two weeks ago a young man called Me to arrange a meeting about his new project. He arrived on time (a rarity in Our culture and in this day and age of "cell phone-excusable tardiness" The Jenius has fallen in that trap a few times Himself) and proceeded to explain his new software concept.

The Jenius was intrigued as the young (about 22-23 years old) man's idea was well-constructed, simple to execute and worthy of attention by the venture capital firms The Jenius has dealt with in the past. Then The Jenius asked a fatal question: What's your market potential?

The young man spoke eagerly about the 120,000 potential clients his software had in Puerto Rico and how perfect it was for the small business and professional office niches. He spoke with enthusiasm for about five minutes about marketing in San Juan, Ponce, Bayamón, Carolina, Caguas and even a special marketing campaign for the western side of the island.

Then he stopped talking.

I waited. Almost a minute went by and when the young man kept quiet, The Jenius spoke: I'm not interested.

His jaw actually dropped. Before he could ask, I explained that if he saw only Puerto Rico as his market, then I had no interest in the project. There are roughly 6 billion people outside of Puerto Rico and if you can't find a market in those masses, then I can't get interested in what you're doing, no matter how great the idea might be.

He started to explain that of course there was a market outside of Puerto Rico, but that he and his partners hadn't looked into it. I pointed out, perhaps unfairly, that research about global markets cost about the same as research on Puerto Rico and that both could be done at the same time. I added that by not seeing any market outside of Puerto Rico, he had wasted at least one opportunity and possibly several, and that by doing so, he had wasted a good part of his idea's advantage.

The meeting ended there, but it still bothers Me. Why do otherwise bright people insist on seeing only as far as our beaches as "the market," as if the rest of the world simply didn't exist? The focus is on being a small fish in a small pond, when the fact is, We can be big fish in huge oceans. It's a matter of attitude and the sooner We ramp Ours up, the better.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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