Ever since Google announced that they'd be shutting down Google Reader, I've been observing what's been happening in the space of RSS readers / tools. What's been interesting is that some companies / tools have been able to leverage this situation to their advantage by being an alternative option (to which ex-Google Reader customers could migrate to).
One of the companies that seems to have gained a lot of traction as a result is feedly (according to their traffic stats).
The thing about feedly is that I've been seeing it mentioned quite a few times in the Twitterverse in the last couple of months. It's been touted as a great app, with a superior UI, and many of the people I follow (and regard as influencers to some extent) have adopted feedly (in favour of whatever they were using before).
Due to the work that they did until now, feedly was in the right place at the right time to take advantage of changes elsewhere in the ecosystem.
In a similar vein, whilst Posthaven seemed to pop up just at the right place and time as an alternative to Posterous, who announced they'll be shutting down at the end of April. On the surface that seems lucky and coincidental (especially in terms of the timing), but Garry Tan's involvement (former founder of Posterous and now founder of Posthaven) is anything but lucky & coincidental.
Sometimes it seems as if an entrepreneur or company just got lucky, but that's rarely the case. The golfing legend Gary Player used to say, "the more I practice, the luckier I get", which is what I'm reminded of when I see "coincidences" like these.
Both feedly and Posthaven were in the right place at the right time to leverage an opportunity. Being there and being ready required a lot of hard work prior to that though, which meant they were afforded an exclusive opportunity that most of us won't have been privy to.
As an example, I'm sure that many entrepreneurs thought of using the shutting down of Google Reader to create a new RSS reading app. But by the time you could've put a V1 together from scratch the likes of feedly would've already beaten you.
Similarly, if anyone else built "a new Posterous" after it was announced that Posterous would close down, I bet it would've failed. That anyone else obviously excludes the former founders of Posterous though.
I think there's a couple of things that every startup and company should be doing that would give them the ability to execute and exploit these lucky opportunities:
- As an entrepreneur, build your soft assets and continuously improve your skills;
- Build a great team;
- Build a great product; and
- Don't waste money and have reserve kitty in your bank account.
Being in the right place at the right time is anything but being lucky. You only earn that privilege by putting in the hard yards long before that opportunity presents itself.