It’s Been Tried Already…
I’m reading The Victorian Internet on the recommendation of Sam Lessin. What a terrific book. Only 30 pages in, I can tell already that I’ll be blogging about this book a number of times. So, here’s the first of many.
Samuel Morse invented the concept of an electric telegraph and his system of encoding messages, Morse code, during a 6 week journey across the Atlantic. When he sketched out the ideas for this invention, he was oblivious to the fact that many European inventors had been working for nearly a century on the idea of sending electric telegraph messages, and all of them failed when it came to testing the concept over large distances.
Morse had no idea how many people had failed before him and the improbability of his idea at the time. He thought he was the first person to come up with this idea. And, if he had been aware of the wasteland of failed attempts behind him, he likely would have resolved it was impossible and given up himself.
Sometimes ignorance is a great thing to have in entrepreneurial endeavors. People (myself included) often dismiss an idea or market because “it’s a landscape littered with bodies.” The knowledge of past failures justifies being dismissive about the prospects in a idea/market as the rational choice, but I love the entrepreneurs (like Samuel Morse) who prove that being dismissive is not necessarily the right choice.