Color. Breaking The Rules
I like to keep my head down in what I’m doing because that’s the only way I know how to make progress. But every now and then like a prairie dog I poke my head up and take a look around to see what the landscape is like. Recently, it’s Color. Color this. Color that. And none of the buzz is about the product but rather the funding. $41M for any start-up is ridiculous unless you’ve got a patented cure for Cancer.
However, I don’t care much about that. Good for Color. If Color doesn’t take off, the investors as TC puts it probably loses a golf lesson . So you know what, the funding doesn’t bother me. I’m not losing a house or going broke of it so I’m not going to bother too much about it. Breaking that specific rule and making 98% of the start-up community feel like shit because they got $41M post-launch with no traction doesn’t bother me. While everyone is yammering about the $41M, I’m probably a little obsessed with knowing what they said to Sequoia, the vision.
But what really grinds my gear as Peter would say is that the product launches and suck. It breaks all the rules of ‘a good startup’. The fact that these rules are broken yet they receive such praises from their investors is what bothers me. I’m not claiming to know all the rules nor am I questioning the VC’s. I’m actually going by what’s been preached by others over and over.
Yet here the rockstar team at Color is breaking these rules.
Good Design: User Interface & Experience
There’s no feedback option, about us, faqs or even tutorials. Nothing that tells someone who didn’t read about their app on a tech blog what it’s about or how it works. Ironically, the App requires a massive user base to work but their first impression turns users off.
I know I’m tech savvy and I’ve never fired up an app and felt so lost. I discover a button that says ‘new group’ but when tapped, it takes me back to former page breaking my expectation. Maybe it’s too much to expect it to fire up a form that allows me to create a new group. My general feeling afterwards is annoyed and frustrated.
Solve a Real Problem
Every app someone downloads brings some usefulness to their lives whether entertainment or productivity. I’m hard pressed to see where Color fits in since it’s useless. I’ve seen some people say how fun it is when you’re at dinner in a group. That's actually really cool. You’re surrounded by a bunch of early adopters all take photos of each other. How do I get my normal friends to use this? How do I use it right off the bat like I can Instagram? If you have to give me examples of the usefulness of your app - how useful is it?
What would be great is if I can browse around these 'photo parties' on Color instead of linking me to the website. There's some use but I assume that's too basic.
Given I have no damn clue of what I’m suppose to do at first, the tag that says ‘take photos together’ (which is a nice tag) coupled with that illustration defines the app as practically useless. It makes me think my friends and I are all going to be sitting in one room taking photos of each other taking photos.
Ok, so this isn’t a rule per say but given their offering, shouldn't it? Every other app does it, why not them? Once again, an app that relies on groups and massive user base but it doesn’t allow me to invite any friends from Facebook or Twitter or even my phone book. I'm not saying it should go against the location aspect of the app but at least let me notify my friends about this cool new app.
This is where I find Color an app wrapped in irony because on it’s primary page it has ‘take photos together’.
Now here’s the problem this phenomenon called Color poses: confusion.
As a young entrepreneur in the game, you’re told to have good branding, build a solid product, make sure the user experience is great, have excellent customer support and solve a real problem. Yet here is this rock star team and ‘Gods of VC’ backing a product that defies all this at first impression. Now maybe they will fix all these issues over time (which they have with $41M investment) and maybe they’ll succeed but what the hell happened to “it is important to make a good first impression”?
I've always understood the importance of team in a start-up but Color's team is now the dictionary definition of it. My conclusion is simple: Color is an exception and we shouldn't feel that we can get away with these mistakes they're committing.
In the end, I have nothing against the app but it is disappointing I cannot learn anything from a product that received such large funding. I'll have to wait. Color clearly isn’t the underdog so not a lot of people are rooting for it. However, what they have going for them now (aside from the $41M) is the drive to prove us all wrong and I see that happening because I don't see Color failing. Why? Well, despite their so called wrongs, there's 41 reasons that they're doing something right.
Disclaimer: When I use the term 'rules' I use it loosely in replacement of advice from those who've been successful in the past. I am aware there are no rules, only suggestions.