Eoghan McCabe and Des Traynor - Sexy or Meaningful

Five Lessons We've Learned Sexy or Meaningful talk 2010

In my last writeup I mentioned that the content Owen DeLong was covering was a little dry but incredibly necessary.

Eoghan McCabe’s and Des Traynor’s (both from Contrast.ie) talk entitled Five Lessons We’ve Learned Sexy or Meaningful builds a lot upon the theme of necessity as they talk about why it is important to not always be chasing the sexy things in life.

They go through five areas of business and explain why in most cases the sexy option is the option you want to avoid like the plague.  This was an excellent talk delivered by two fantastic speakers.

With regards to business strategies they discussed things that didn’t work;

  • Filling a hole in another product very rarely works
  • Being a middle man doesn’t work
  • Generally relying on third parties for your business model to work isn’t going to work
  • Being first to market has no real advantage
  • Creating copy cat apps isn’t going to work (in personally, find that really boring)
  • Trendy businesses never seem to work (SEO companies for example)

And they concluded that we should be looking long term and to focus on the things that aren’t going to change.

With regards to the people you are involved with they mentioned a couple of things;

  • Talent without discipline is bad.
  • Having a friend become a colleague can ruin the friendship.
  • You should always choose people for the right reasons.

Their third topic for discussion was about investments, they highlighted the fact that investment is sexy and reminded us that our business doesn’t really need that much start up so why would you really need to chase money in the beginning?

Fourth on their list was the section on design, they warned us to watch out for trends and don’t immediately follow them.  I couldn’t agree more with this, it is so tempting to make all your corners rounded now and have a nice shadow effect around divs, but just because it is the flavour of the moment doesn’t mean you are giving any real value to your users.

They gave an example of a good meaningful website - Craigslist.  They point out that the design hasn’t changed and whilst it isn’t sexy, it is very functional.   I would argue that sites like Amazon and Ebay would be in the same boat, not great to look at but usually easy to use.

Their talk ended with a section on marketing, here they listed some more key points;

  • Build your product first, then look at the marketing.
  • Let the product do the talking.
  • Don’t chase overnight success.
  • Ignore tabloids.

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