My friend Jason Hogg recently told a story about a conversation with his son. His son asked this question:
“Daddy, why don’t we just take the Space Shuttle to Mars?”
Jason: “Son, yes, the Space Shuttle is a spaceship, but going to Mars is a lot more complicated than that. Let me tell you why.”
Like space travel, startups are more complicated than they seem. Most aren’t NASA complicated, but they aren’t simple either. I find that when someone starts a sentence with “Why don’t you just…?“, they are typically indicating a lack of understanding of the complexity of something.
Here’s a silly but germane example. At a recent Cornell Hockey game, there was a fundraiser and gift collection where the fans were asked to either buy or bring a stuffed animal to be donated to a local children’s charity. For most people, it meant spending $5 as you walked into the stadium, and tossing this little guy over the glass partition at the end of the game:
Some generous person decided to donate a huge bear. It was initially part of the display in the lobby to get the attention of attendees. I can hear someone saying, “Why don’t we just toss the Big Big Red Teddy Bear over the partition?”. The result was not so elegant:
[blox_video title=”” image=””]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yVDZqi2M94#t=21[/blox_video]
In summary: Getting the little bear over the glass, and getting the space shuttle into orbit are a lot less complicated than getting the huge bear over the glass, and a spaceship to Mars. Next time you hear “Why don’t you just…?“, be wary.
Jason, your Father of the Year gift can be picked up here: