Startups as Toys to Mask Threats and Have Happy Customers

If you give people a tool and tell them it will perfectly solve an important problem, any imperfection in the tool is going to make them angry. If you give someone a toy and say “Look what I made! Isn’t it fun? It kinda does this thing.” then you’ve set yourself up for a positive reaction. It’s much easier to beat low expectations than high ones, so you’ve materially increased your chances at having a happy user.


The second thing that goes wrong when you take your toy too seriously is that you signal to the bigger and better funded companies already in the marketplace that you are onto something important and profitable. This is bad, because those companies will start paying attention to your toy too early and copy/buy/kill it. Airbnb looked like a doofy hipster thing to hotels for a very long time. And then, when it was too late, they realized that it wasn’t a toy at all. By that time, Airbnb had enough customers, revenue, and funding to survive the attacks of the incumbents.


Folksonomies: capitalism competition strategy business strategy

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/travel/hotels (0.399831)
/health and fitness/disease/aids and hiv (0.367394)

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Airbnb:Company (0.884341 (:0.000000))

English-language films (0.899749): dbpedia_resource
Toy (0.781186): dbpedia_resource
Attack (0.780263): dbpedia_resource

 Why Toys?
Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Harris, Aaron (February 8, 2018), Why Toys?, Retrieved on 2018-03-20
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: competition startups