Keith Rabois, former Square, LinkedIn and PayPal executive, is a partner at Khosla Ventures. He recently led an investment in an application, Sup, and its vision sounds a little bit ahead of its time.
Right now, Sup is a short livestream video application. You can “Sup” a friend. If a friend accepts your request, it turns on the video camera on their phone and you can see what they’re up to for 10 seconds. The current product looks like a game, where you can control friends and tell them to take selfies, move left, right or forward with their cameras to see their view points.
The long-term vision is to let users see what’s going on anywhere in the world in real-time by utilising millions of cameras that aren’t in use, from Dropcams to iPhones. Instead of reading tweets about what it’s like in Gaza, for example, you could ‘Sup’ someone who’s there to see what’s going on, like virtual teleportation.
Bart Stein, co-founder of Sup, says he likes to pick startup ideas the world isn’t quite ready for and “skate in front of the puck.” But startups that are too forward thinking have a tendency to die. A startup’s success is determined by a number of factors including a founder’s vision and ambition, product-market fit, timing, and luck.
Rabois isn’t worried about Stein being overly ambitious. He feels a founder’s top priority is making a product relevant today, even if the world isn’t ready for it.
“I don’t believe startups are ever too early,” says Rabois. “Entrepreneurs put the world where they want it to be. That’s the number one job and responsibility for founders — to create product market fit today, not in the future.”
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