“Lee Kaifu’s trap” is a thrilling leap to defeat the entrepreneurial team


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Every scientific and technological innovation and entrepreneurship project must consider the market application ability and consumer demand. Among them, there is a subtle and dangerous “Lee Kaifu trap”.
Oral / Wu Xiaobo
Source / WeChat official account: Wu Xiaobo channel
Once upon a time, I had a brief communication with Dr. Kaifu li of the entrepreneurial workshop.
Lee Kai Fu was a computer scientist in his early years. After he resigned from Google, he raised a fund in China to invest in new technology type start-up companies.
I asked him, you have met a lot of highly skilled young people and invested in numerous projects. What is the most frustrating thing in the process?
The computer scientist, who has worked for apple, Microsoft and Google, told me that his biggest frustration was that he couldn’t invest in the cool and innovative products they developed when they met some “bright eyed” technology entrepreneurs who understood their cool and innovative products.
Because although these products are technically advanced, they can not find consumers and can not be applied. This means:
Any innovative product, from the laboratory to the market, will experience a thrilling leap.
This span across in front of entrepreneurs, many people can not jump over. This does not mean that the technology of the product is not good and there is no innovation, but that the entrepreneurs have not found the application market for consumption.
This is the phenomenon of disconnection between products and the consumer market, which is largely related to the “pseudo demand” nature of products.
In this regard, there is a classic story in the sales world – how to sell shoes to people who don’t wear shoes?
The story is that the residents of an island never wear shoes for unknown reasons. There’s a product manager on the island who needs to design the right shoes to sell to the islanders. How to sell it? There are two options.
In the first scheme, the product manager thought that the islanders did not know what the shoes were, so they took the demand of mainland residents for shoes as the needs of islanders, and sold them a leather shoes, but the sales volume was very poor.
In the second scheme, the product manager sells the sandals that are not easy to accumulate sand and wear comfortable sandals to the islanders, resulting in a big increase in sales.
The results of the two schemes are quite different. Why?
The leather shoes in scheme 1 are exquisite and beautiful, which is the demand of urban residents on the mainland. However, after investigation, the product manager found that the residents lived on the beach, and there was sand in their shoes when they walked. The reason why islanders finally choose to walk barefoot is that barefoot is more comfortable than wearing shoes.
Leather shoes can also accumulate sand, so its delicate and beautiful features are a “pseudo demand” for Islanders.
Comfort and no sand accumulation are the real needs of islanders. Therefore, to fully understand the market demand, scheme two can greatly increase sales.
On the issue of “pseudo demand”, Kaifu Li shared his story when he was young:
When he was in Silicon Valley, Kaifu Lee once worked for a company called SGI (Silicon Graphics), whose Chinese name is “situ”. This is a multinational company that started with visual computing technology. It has launched many excellent server products, such as indigo series.
Source of indigo2 graphic workstation released by SGI company in 1993: SGI Tech
Although the company is no longer brilliant, more than 20 years ago, SGI and Google were on the same page.
When we developed a new browser called Lee SGI.
He and his team want to build a 3D world in the browser. He once said that the product was completely the idea of a scientist in his mind.
For example, they want this 3D world to be able to navigate, move objects freely, and create cool advertisements.
The idea was very innovative at the time. In early 2000, when 3D browsers were developed, computer systems did not even have enough memory and fast broadband to support it.
But Lee believes that we can’t wait until all the technologies can meet the needs of 3D browsers before we can develop it.
After that, they developed it successfully, and the 3D browser worked quite well in the early stage.
Kaifu Lee is quite confident about the high-tech product he has developed. He thinks that it has the best VR technology in the world, and it must also have sufficient market demand.
But when Kaifu Lee’s team showed the product to the CEO of the company, the CEO threw cold water on him.
The CEO said that the company has spent a lot of resources to develop it, but it does not think that the product has market value, so it is not willing to keep the product.
Kaifu Lee refused to accept and wanted to collect evidence to refute the CEO.
So, the CEO set a task for Kaifu Lee, asking him to go to the market to find buyers, sell the 3D browser, and see how many people are willing to spend for it.
Li Kaifu’s initial self-confidence has disappeared in the face of real market demand. No one in the market was willing to buy it, and finally Kaifu had to sell it at a very low price.
Kaifu Lee’s failure in selling 3D browser products can be attributed to two reasons
First, technology cannot be commercialized.
When the entrepreneurial team develops products, they only focus on technical innovation, but do not consider the practical innovation of technology.
Second, technology has proven to be “pseudo requirements.”.
At the time, perhaps 3D technology was advanced. But when consumers use browsers, they don’t need to use 3D technology. The R & D team thinks that it can realize navigation function and make cool advertisements, but consumers don’t necessarily need 3D effect when using navigation function or watching advertisements.
Therefore, the demand conceived by the R & D team is actually a “pseudo demand” for consumers.
For many high-tech start-up teams, “pseudo demand” is not easy to detect. They often regard the hard-working products as their own children, and have invested a lot of time and effort for them, and have unlimited expectations that it can benefit the lives of users.
As a result, many start-up projects carry the original vision of the team, but whether these expectations are suitable for the market is uncertain.

Many product managers agree that some entrepreneurial teams have mastered strong technology R & D capabilities, but the products with cutting-edge technology are not necessarily in line with the logic of demand.
The story of Kaifu Lee’s development and sales of 3D browsers may be called the “Lee Kaifu trap”.
This “trap” is beautiful and imaginative. But its biggest danger is whether the technology can be productized when the entrepreneurial team carries out technology research and innovation? Can this product meet the needs of consumers now or in the future?
The biggest difference between technological innovation and business innovation is their boundary and quantifiable.
In today’s China, under the circumstances of industrial progress and Sino US trade friction, an exciting upsurge of scientific and technological innovation is breaking out. In the long run, this is of decisive significance for China’s industrial economy.
However, when it comes to every technological innovation and entrepreneurship project, we must consider the application ability of the market and the needs of consumers. Among them, there is a subtle and dangerous “Lee Kaifu trap”.
(statement: This article only represents the author’s point of view, not Sina’s position.)