What is time?
Time is money. There are timelines and timetables.
Overtime. Uptime. Downtime.
Daytime and nighttime. Dinnertime and lunchtime.
You can waste time. And you can make time.
You wish you had the time. To save time.
But what is time?
Nathan Kontny has a simple theory about how to get business ideas.
- Find a job people have.
- List out every step people take to complete that job.
- Remove as many steps as you can.
This is how Kontny built Draft. Draft is a web app that makes you write better through easy collaboration and version control.
He describes how he would send his wife blog posts for her to edit and he realized how many steps were involved in the process.
As I would watch her operate, I would send her a link to a blog post. She would copy and paste it all into Microsoft Word. And then she would do her stuff. Then she would send me a Word document back over email. I have to open up Word now or Pages, something on my Mac, which was awful. I have to copy and paste the work she had done back into a text editor or whatever. It was just like here is eight steps or however many I just labeled. It’s too many steps.
Nathan Kontny, Solve Your Own Problems, Product TV]
Kontny eliminates several steps. He built Draft to send a link to his wife and she could edit it within the browser. He could then accept the changes he wanted or reject those he did not want. And that’s it.
By eliminating steps Kontny has solved his own problem and one that was a major pain for other people too. Draft gives you a little bit of time back.
And that’s the real value. You no longer have to waste time of opening Microsoft Word or be confused with Google Docs. No more copying and pasting into other programs.
Draft is selling time.
Last week I needed to hitch a ride to Union Station in Washington DC to catch the Megabus at 7:00 am. I live about four miles from the Metro in Arlington, VA.
I could of called a taxi or started walking towards the Metro. And then ride the Metro into Union Station to catch the bus. But it was 5:45 am.
Instead I packed up my things and pulled up Uber on my phone. I live in a residential neighborhood. I requested a ride and poured a bowl of cereal.
Before I could take the second scoop from the bowl, the driver had already arrived at my apartment. He was backed into the driveway and ready to take me to Union Station. It cost just $15 and I arrived with 30 minutes to spare.
My favorite part about Uber is how you pay the driver. Let’s compare the payment process with a taxi and Uber.
It’s not always that bad. But it can be. There is not a standard rate for taxis. Some only take cash. Others can’t take certain cards. Inconvenient.
Uber slashes the steps in half. It eliminated at least three steps for me that morning and gave me some time back.
Uber is selling time.
This idea of eliminating steps has been around for a while. Remember Napster? Go down memory lane and watch the documentary Downloaded.
The company shattered the music industry. Napster was a catalyst for social networks and proved how technology was going to change our lives forever. How did you get new music before 1999?
Let’s list out the steps.
- Go to your local record store.
- Search for the artist’s CD or record.
- Buy the full CD or record.
- Take it to your car or home.
- Play the music.
Shawn Fanning, Sean Parker, and the rest of the Napster crew obliterated that process. Here’s how you could get new music with Napster.
- Open your computer and the Napster app.
- Search for the artist’s music.
- Click download and play the music.
You could do this all from your dorm room. Millions of people did. Because Napster would save you lots of time.
Music will be ubiquitous. And we believe you’ll be able to get it on your cell phone, on your stereo, or whatever the device of the future is. I think people are going to be willing to pay for convenience.
Sean Parker, Downloaded
Napster was selling time.
So what is time? It’s our most valuable resource.
And today, you can buy it.
Because time is for sale.