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Seeing opportunities, and missing them  

This engaging story of the early days of a startup team (which is now working on their next startup) who went to Silicon Valley with a dream and not much idea of what they were going to do, but made it work through spotting an opportunity and going with it:

In a day of work, we wrote the software in 300 lines of code and tested it. We ordered a label printer from Dymo and hooked them up to a Dell Mini 10v netbook. After that was done, we contacted an event organizer, convinced him that our system wasn't going to fail, and asked if we could print name badges for him.

The event organizer let us try out our system, and that night turned out to be amazing. People thought it was the coolest thing ever to type their name in a laptop and instantly have a name badge print out. At the end of the night, we handed out lots of cards and got lots of people to try our mobile app. It was the first time in my life that there was "buzz" around something I created.

But then, they sold the company and went back to their previous idea, which HN user SwellJoe takes issue to:

You made a product no one wanted, and in order to market it, you stumbled onto a product that lots of people wanted in a market where billions of dollars are spent each year (we spend about 10 grand a year on conferences, and we're a tiny company with a tiny marketing budget). You've now ditched the product people wanted, presumably selling it for a pittance, and went right back to a similar mobile app to the one you couldn't convince anyone to use, despite excellent marketing savvy.

More from the library:
How to deal with massive technological disruption
Picking technologies on the right side of history
Non-violent communication