Steve Greenwood: The complexity of relationships
Steve Greenwood told the Thinc Iowa crowd the story of Brewster, which is all about relationships.
A core theme of Thinc Iowa 2012 is relationships. And Steve Greenwood, the founder and CEO of Brewster, is all about relationships. Brewster launched this summer, and Greenwood shared the intimate story about how the app was created today at The Temple for Performing Arts.
Brewster's goal is to understand who you know and to define your relationships. To understand Greenwood's passion and focus on relationships, you must know that for years he kept an Excel spreadsheet to track and analyze all of his life's relationships — the concept is not something Greenwood takes lightly.
Greenwood started his talk by stating that relationships are complicated. "(Relationships) become more complicated over time," he said. "They multiply, grow and interconnect."
The relationship formula
In today's sociocultural evolution, relationships increase in complexity very rapidly. Greenwood explained that there is a simple formula to measure relationship complexity based on the who, what and how of our relationships.
The number of people (who), multipled by the number of contexts (what), multiplied by the number of ways we communicate (how) equals relationship complexity.
Determine your atomic unit
Greenwood touched on the concept of the atomic unit of a startup, introduced to him by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures. Wilson encourages all startups to figure out what their atomic unit is and focus on that. For Twitter, the atomic unit is the tweet. For Instagram, it is the photo. And for Brewster, Greenwood explained, the atomic unit is the relationship.
Be obsessed with your work
Greenwood encouraged conference-goers to work on whatever it is they are obsessed with, to have a framework around how they think about their idea and focus on that. Having made an Excel spreadsheet with thousands of rows and nearly 30 columns to document his relationships in life, Greenwood is clearly obsessed with relationships. He figured that if he spent hours every week on his spreadsheet, there had to be other people out there who wanted an easier way to understand their relationships.
At the end of his talk, Greenwood shared a few quick tips for building a startup:
- Prepare for the subway test - Be able to explain what your startup does on one line of the subway (or in the course of an elevator ride).
- Understand your user - This may seem like an easy question, but it's actually very difficult and you should spend lots of time thinking about this topic.
- Determine the problem?" - Is it a real problem? Is there a pain?
- A 10X Solution - Are you providing a 10X solution for what exists today? To get users to break from their routines and choose your offering, your solution needs to be 10X better.
Thinc Iowa is a premiere event produced by Silicon Prairie News. For live video of Thinc Iowa 2012, tune in at spne.ws/live from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 and 11. For more on Thinc Iowa, check out the conference on Twitter and Facebook.