Who Dreams Up This Stuff?

4 Nov

Picture 3Walking through ad:tech in New York it’s hard not to have flashback to the Internet boom of the late 90s. There are far too many people, pushing far too many half-baked ideas. Six months from now most of them will be two business plans down the road.
Having been in the thick of the first Internet boom, I have this protective wall of cynicism that pops up when BS is detected in dangerous concentrations. And on the exhibit floor that warning system was in full-force.

Booth after booth there were vendors hawking solutions in search of problems or just dumb ideas. But by far the worst was back in the corner with new mobile solutions. To be fair, there are some smart start-ups that I hope beat the odds and find their niche. But consider the following pitch I was given.

Company X (no, I won’t identify them) has a custom QR Code that it believes consumer package goods companies will want on their box. Why? Well because with it you can deliver rich information to consumers right there in the stores. How will it work? Why in just these few easy steps.

  1. Consumers download company’s iPhone app. (No marketing plan on driving downloads, trust us it will be huge.)
  2. Walking down the grocery aisle you see a sign for your product offering cool content just a click away. (No explanation about who’s going to pay to get the store to install your signage. But, let’s not dither over details.)
  3. You’ll stop in your tracks, turn the product around, spot the little QR alternative, open your iPhone app (ok), type in the product name (why) and snap a picture of the little logo. Then the magic happens. (No, trust them, you will be so excited about this that you’ll do this over and over in the store.)
  4. You see a mobile web page with menu ideas and other “great content.” (Wake up, you’re missing the big pay off.)
  5. You’ll need to go retrieve your kids who are now three aisles away racking up impressive charges for damaged goods. (OK, I made that one up.)

If someone had paused just once to question why, maybe this train wreck could have been avoided. But sadly there is once again too much money chasing too few good ideas.

The investors were out in force, walking the same show floor. I’ll bet more than a few are buzzing about this little start-up.

(For a slightly saltier view of the mayhem, check out this snarky YouTube video.)

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