Universal Products

Consider some of the most successful products in history:


The screw.

The rope.

The wheel.

What do they have in common?

They simultaneously have an enormous range of obviously valuable applications (it's not a big stretch of the imagination to see how a nail can be useful) and at the same time make very few assumptions about how they should be used or in what context. There is something very elemental and basic in each of them.

Paper: a highly portable and durable device for storing and displaying data, with zero marginal maintenance cost.

The screw: a small device for fastening two planar objects together, which is resilient under tensile loads

The rope: a linear device which comes in configurable lengths (from 1" to virtually infinite length) which is highly flexible, self-fastening, and optimized for resistance to tensile loads.

The wheel: a device for reducing the friction of a moving object over a surface

Time to Develop

Products which spend more than a year in development without any validation or feedback are doomed to fail.

It's because over a long timespan, you are forced to make arbitrary decisions for the users. You're basically gambling, flipping the coin each time. If you do this enough times, the odds of success diminish as 0.5^x where x is the number of decisions you must make.