One of the ways I think about the web is it being a giant laboratory. This is a laboratory where almost anyone can test an amazingly large number of hypotheses with hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people, all over the world, relatively quickly. Once you learn a few simple skills, the world’s largest laboratory becomes practically free to tinker in and the number of subjects who can be used in an experiment is limitless and borderless. That’s pretty cool.
The deeper I go with this analogy, the greater my appreciation for the web becomes – I realize what an empowering tool is at my fingertips and I am thankful I spent some time developing the necessary skills for my own experimentation. Being a “scientist” of the web is exciting!
When I say “experiment” I am mainly referring to testing potential business opportunities, after all, that is really what entrepreneurship is about – experimenting with what people want and what they are willing to pay for it. But there are other experiments that can be perfectly suited for the web as well including social or psychological experiments to name a few.
Right now, my partners and I are working on our own experiment. We call it Medko, and we’re testing whether or not people want to find healthcare information online. If so, can we create a business model in which connecting patients and doctors makes us money? The verdict is still out but we genuinely believe that every new days draws us closer to a conclusion. The discovery might not be what we are hoping for, but until tested, we have no way of knowing. And so we push on.
Working on a startup is a never ending cycle of tests. Can we convert more users if we say X in this email? What happens to Y if we change this variable on our homepage? And the list goes on.
One of our greatest challenges is actually deciding what we shouldn’t test. There are a million different micro experiments we could run but many of them will not provide us with truly valuable information regarding our original hypothesis. When we disagree on which tests are worthy, it can lead to conflict. Conflicts with your lab partners are never fun but it is inevitable when working in this type of environment. Luckily, my co-founders and I are usually moving in the same direction.
If you are interested in running your own experiments, I would strongly encourage you to try learning HTML and CSS or some other skill that gives you the ability to create, whether it be a programming language or the ability to create graphics in Adobe Illustrator. I consider these skills some of the greatest things I’ve ever learned and wish I began understanding them much sooner.
There are people that build the web, and people that simply use it. I happen to be in both categories and when you begin building the web instead of only consuming it, you become a new member of the laboratory. It’s truly an exciting place to be.
If you have a question on entrepreneurship or your own experiment and would like some feedback, please send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org