It probably seems obvious if you sit down and think about it, but for some reason I see more and more entrepreneurs with ideas that are far extrapolated from contributing value.
This can be a great exercise as most of our strongest scientific advancements have been made by discoveries where the immediate value and impact were unknown.
I had a crazy idea while studying to get my MBA to develop an algorithm that could look at a Twitter user’s feed and attempt to identify their personality traits. (You can read about it here.)
It was a fun project and an interesting experiment, but just like any business student, as I received external interest, I was determined to build a business around it. I spent at least 6 months jumping from industry to industry, looking at hiring, then recruitment, then sales and on and on. The exercise was valuable as I learned a lot from a variety of industries, but the most valuable lesson was that the further you extrapolate from directly visible value – the harder things get.
I don’t regret working on the algorithm and perhaps there is significant value somewhere I didn’t look.
But if I could go back in time and tell myself that not every project needs to be a business, I would – some stuff is just fun.