For me, legos was a game changing toy. In fact, writing the word “toy” makes me cringe because legos is so much more than that. These little bricks put me on a course that would later lead to robotics in high school, electrical engineering in college, and entrepreneurship somewhere in between. And anyone that’s ever played with legos can understand where I’m coming from. Like me, you probably bought some lego truck or train, built the thing based off of the instructions, and then completely destroyed your newfound creation so you could build your own piece of art.
Invention. Creation. Destruction. Innovation.
This cycle happens over time in every business and in every industry. Take AOL as an example. They created the first web portal and then it got destroyed by new companies building off of their building blocks. AOL away messages became Twitter. AOL profile pages became Facebook. AOL search became Google. The same thing is happening to Craigslist and to many other companies and sectors.
And this is where innovation comes from. It’s all about understanding how to use building blocks and for me that happened with legos. That’s why I got pretty excited when I saw littlebits for the first time a year or so ago over on Fred Wilson’s blog. I recently met Ayah, the founder of littlebits, and I’m more excited about what this company can and hopefully will become. As Ayah believes, and as I do to, the new building blocks of the 21st century are based on electrical circuits. Some may argue that we are beyond hardware and that the real building blocks are knowing how to code and how to program, but I believe that the next wave of true innovation will come from the intersection of new hardware and new software. Not software alone.
And that’s why littlebits is so exciting. Kids all over the world will be able to play with and learn from the new building blocks of the 21st century. Had I been sitting on that basement floor with these building blocks instead of legos, who knows what I would have built. A TV perhaps.