Of all the many emails I get each week, perhaps the one from the comic greeting-card company, someecards, is the most important.
Earlier this week, their email included a link to gift ideas for the lonliest people you know. By turns pathetic and funny, the gifts included “Jazz for When You’re Alone” and a voodoo doll called “Stick it to Your Ex.”
They also included one gift that was the subject of a talk to entrepreneurs a couple of weeks ago at Swequity 2 (@swequity) at the National Digital Research Center (NDRC) in Dublin, Ireland.
Swequity is a short program that helps idea owners, techies and business people form teams and work on lean canvass development.
Speaking to the group, Diane Roberts (@dianerbrts) invoked the “Dream Man Arm Pillow” (pictured above) and spoke of the need for entrepreneurs to carefully weigh up all the advice they receive.
With a background in Angel investing and a founder of Colman Equity, Roberts started by talking about pillows and how there seems to be little need to innovate that particular product line any more.
Yet things like the Dream Man Arm Pillow came along. Apparently it was big in Japan, but struggled in the UK until it was mocked as worst product of the year — then sales took off!
But it was feedback from the group on the next picture, the SkyRest Travel Pillow (pictured above), that helped Roberts make her point about the conflicting advice fledgling businesses often get.
One audience member hated it. Another loved it. And another said he would buy it if it had arms that massaged his back and neck. Roberts asked the entrepreneurs what they would have done if they invented the pillow had spoken to three mentors or investors who came back with the same opinions.
The conflicting opinions underscore the need for customer validation, Roberts said. Ultimately, their’s is the only opinion that really matters.
As for the other gifts, some of them are shown below.