Yun and I are a magazine publisher's dream. We not only subscribe to 10+ different mags, but we're all too willing to reward a catchy headline by paying the full news stand price too. This morning Time Magazine got me with its cover story on its June 6th issue: The Science of Optimism. It's an interesting piece about how humans are hardwired to be optimistic, which the author contends is the underlying force that has fostered our evolution from cave dwellers to space travelers. In particular, author Tali Sharot points out, "To make progress, we need to be able to imagine alternative realities - better ones - and we need to believe we can achieve them." While the author's conclusions relate more generally to mankind's development, the connection between optimism and striving for a better future struck a chord with me in how they relate to entrepreneurship.
Without optimism (sometimes to the point of being overly optimistic) towards the business you're launching, it would be impossible to get any idea off of the ground. With few exceptions, everything is being done in this world. So, to jump into the fray (whatever the industry) with your own spin, to think you can do it better and/or differently, you need to believe in what you're undertaking and have confidence in your ability to execute a plan. It's interesting to consider whether the optimism we feel towards our business is something intangible that we're pre-wired for or whether it comes from a more thoughtful, analytical place.
When we started building apps with our Letter Buddies and Zoozoo content, we were optimistic that parents would understand the educational value of the underlying materials and pay $2.99/$5.99 (iPhone/iPad) for our Letter Buddies AlphaBooks app when many apps are sold for $0.99. We believe that if you're building anything that provides value, your customer should be willing to pay a fair price. I'm sure that we've turned off some potential customers because our price point is a bit bit higher than the $0.99 apps level, but I'm still optimistic that in time, as we build our brand, all potential customers will appreciate the quality of our products and agree that we're offering them at a fair price. Getting fair value — that's ultimately why I just gave $4.99 to Time Magazine for the news stand edition of the magazine that I could read online for free! - Kevin