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Startup Secret No. 11: Rescue your darlings

The thing you plan to build and the thing that ends up having value may not be the same thing.

"What would you save?"

--Philippe Honigman, CEO of Social Folders

I reviewed Social Folders recently, and to be honest, found it a mixed bag: A useful and Interesting idea, but a very challenged business. So the story of how this product got here intrigued me.

Social Folders is based on a cloud storage and sync technology that originally appeared in a previous product, ftopia.

But Honigman realized that, "We came too late to a market already dominated by two large players [he means Dropbox and Box, I think] and overcrowded with dozens of smaller companies." So he did a little exercise. As he wrote to me, "I went through a thought experiment, picturing the crash of the project in my mind, and asking myself what I would instinctively rush to save from wreckage. When you've built something of value, the answer to that question comes to your mind as a blinding truth, and that's the first step to regenerate your venture."

What Honigman rescued was the core sync-and-store back-end technology, which was tough to build, and, he figured, valuable. The social data sync product, Social Folders, is a new front-end on top of that. It has the advantage of being a unique and very specific product, running on top of a mature and robust back-end.

The counterargument to Honigman's position is a quote that all writers know (or should), attributed most widely to Faulkner: "Kill your darlings." In other words, just because you love it, it doesn't mean it deserves to live.

But it is important to know, in your gut, what the real core of your business is.

Startup Secrets is based on personal interviews with people building companies and on their blog posts and news stories. Subscribe to Startup Secrets on Twitter or come back to Rafe's Radar every day for a new one. See all the Startup Secrets.