“Not invented here” has long held a negative connotation. I’ve been involved in my share of corporate development efforts that ignore marketplace solutions and pursue an internal one only to see the project stagger and fall. I’ve also used it as an excuse for obstacles encountered when dealing with other companies. In those respects, it’s alive and well.
When you’re a lean startup, however, you can’t afford to ignore something because it wasn’t developed from within. You’re trying to serve your clients and end users in the best way possible as fast as possible in the run toward sustainability.
Fortunately, there are many examples on the web where “not invented here” has produced beautiful results. Think of all the mashups where content and functionality from multiple sites are combined (you can find fun examples at Mashup Awards).
For the web, it’s morphed into the “I want some of what’s over there” syndrome, and that’s often all it takes to start pulling it into your product. Looking at Brand Thunder’s own efforts, we did that with Surf Canyon (who was just recognized by Search Engine Journal). We don’t view ourselves as just creating a more personal and customized browser experience; we’re trying to create a better one. Regardless of how badly we want to do something, we simply don’t have the time nor resources to do it all. And, it doesn’t make sense to reinvent a good product when it’s sitting “over there.”
When your resources are fully tapped out developing your core offering, finding something of value that was not invented here is a gift. We’ll continue to look for relationships that can help us improve our product at a rapid rate. And hopefully we won’t lock ourselves into mindsets that limit us.