In his blog post yesterday, Scott Adams (Creator of Dilbert) talks about Quality following Popularity. He gives some interesting examples from the entertainment world of products (shows) that weren’t that good to begin with (poor quality), but were given enough time to grow an audience (popularity), and eventually improved their product. Adams provides a two part litmus test on whether or not something can achieve the popularity necessary to give it the time to deliver quality.
1) You must be able to describe it in a few words.
2) When people hear about it, they ask questions.
I think this all applies equally well to tech startups. Many times that beta product just isn’t that great. But it scratches some itch and gets people talking. Talking leads to buzz, buzz leads to users, users leads to some investors, and cash provides the time needed to actually produce a quality product.
(BTW - did you know there are over 7,000 Dilbert strips? I’ve got some catching up to do.)