“This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.” That is the line from the famous TV series that made it onto the big screen, Mission Impossible. Yet, this is now a reality with Snapchat, whose vanishing message service is akin to MI’s self-destructing ones. What was once feared as a sexting tool for teenagers, has now caught on with the larger masses, with nearly 100 million people using its services every day. Last Friday, Snapchat informed US regulators that is has raised a new round of funding of US$537 million, with a possibility that it could rise to US$650 million. Earlier this year, Alibaba committed US$200 million to Snapchat as well, putting its valuation at more than US$15 billion. What can we learn from this? Here are 5 easy ideas about Snapchat that you could use in your quest for innovative success…
(1) Find business whitespace
Who needs vanishing messages, anyway? Perhaps spies and people engaging in illicit activities. Yet criminal activities may well make great business white space. Surveillance companies used to sell only to crime-prevention businesses, but now sells to all and sundry. Cyber security has grown to such a level that it is a burgeoning industry all by itself. Face-detection software was previously employed by the government in its fight against terrorism, but commercial companies like casinos use the same technology to sieve out cheats. Crime and crime prevention make for very interesting business whitespace that can be utilized for profit. Vanishing viruses, anyone?
(2) Youth as the first wave
When Snapchat first came onto the scene in 2011, teenagers jumped onto the service. Many presume it was best used for sexting. But other now-mainstream services were first adopted by the youth. Facebook was designed for use by university undergraduates. When Twitter came along, the youth jumped onto it first, finding ways to keep in touch with each other where their parents don’t lurk. Then came Instagram, and then Snapchat. The youth market is a great testing ground because they are so attuned to technology. They also form online communities much faster. If you want to start the next revolution, design with the youth in mind.
(3) Impossible is nothing
There should be a mindset with all our innovators – nothing is impossible. A Mission Impossible-type self-destructing message? Well, 10 years ago it was impossible, today, it is a reality. All it took was a shift in our thinking, a hunt (Get it? Hunt? As in Ethan Hunt? Never mind…) for possibilities, and the need to make it happen. Technology is ever-expanding and this allows for many ways to achieve the impossible – we just need to keep our eyes and ears pealed for them, and connect the dots. No one is going to make that connection for you – that is where whitespace exists.
(4) Everything is in the clouds these days
The cloud is the next Internet revolution. There are loads of opportunities available to people to harness this technology, as well as to protect the contents within. Blackberry used to own the secured network space, but now that the cloud is everywhere, there is a need to play in a secured cloud space like Samsung has done with its Knox system. This now makes Blackberry irrelevant. Everything is in the cloud these days. We need to learn to harness that, just as Snapchat has done.
(5) Reuse! Reuse! Reuse! (or in some cases, rebuy!)
Snapchat has 100 million users a day. To be viable, a service needs to have people using, and reusing, it, constantly. Amazon uses predictive software to upsell more items by saying, “People who bought this also bought these other stuff…” By getting people to use and reuse your service, you get a higher lifetime value of the customer. And that translates to more revenue, and greater value. That Snapchat has just included advertising on its platform shows that it is now reaping what it has been sowing for the last four years, during which time it was adding more users and more Snapchats. Reuse! Reuse! Reuse!