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Great ideas aren’t forged in a vacuum. Remember to learn along the way.

Published: Mar 19, 2011 5:47 pm

Often times it’s easy for me to get focused on “the next big thing” and it’s difficult to meditate on past experiences. Entrepanuers need to be forward thinkers, but great ideas aren’t forged in a vacuum. Paradoxically, we need to reconcile these two competing lines of thinking.

Growing up, I was a PC fanatic. I built all of my own computers, I worked an I.T. job, and I did some light consulting on the side. In 2007 my needs changed. I was moving to South Africa for 6 months and I needed a laptop that I could do heavy video work on. I picked up a 15 inch MacBook Pro, Final Cut Pro, and a couple external harddrives I could use for a scratch disk. I unboxed all of my equipment on the kitchen table and began to install all 40 gigs of Final Cut Pro. My nieces were visiting and were quietly playing in the other room.

I got up to grab a water across the room and play time suddenly shifted to the kitchen. In slow motion I watched my Niece race around the kitchen table (where my laptop was) and she came face to face with a freshly unboxed MacBook Pro. Instead of tripping over the cord and pulling my laptop to an early demise, the cord simply popped free and my laptop sat on the table unscathed.

I can thank MagSafe for saving me several thousand dollars. For those of you not familiar with MagSafe, I have embedded a video below. Notice how the MagSafe connector stays in place unless it force comes from an angle (for example, a running child).

Fast forward to Apple’s unveiling of the iPad 2. Introduced alongside the new iPad was an accessory called the “Smart Cover”. It’s really cool tech that allows you to add or remove a case. It can also be used to double as a stand.

Apple has been working on the iPad 2 for over a year but work began on the smart cover when they started experimenting with magnets for MagSafe. Apple was able to leverage it’s past learning with magnets into future thinking products. The past is a great source of inspiration for the future.

What past experience can your startup leverage?

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Hi, I'm Paul Hontz.

I'm a YC alumn and I love startups. I created TSF to highlight companies I find interesting. You can learn more about me here.

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