Phase 1: Deciding what to build

In this programmable world with cloud-based services and pervasive technology, traditional barriers to entry have melted away. That's both great news and a problem.

When you can build virtually anything, how do you decide what to create?

Giant Pixel's strike team of programmers, designers and marketers starts with a simple, age-old technique: the power of lists. We maintain a big list of potential projects contributed by individuals or emerging from brainstorming sessions. We kick the ideas around internally, refining some, eliminating others, and always adding new ones.

A few percolate to the top. We review them at weekly meetings, eventually pick one, and crank out a prototype. The process is continually repeated, generating multiple embryonic startups gestating in parallel. Successful ideas grow into independent businesses that are spun out of the studio, and failures are discarded.

But ideas breed like rabbits, and the list just keeps growing. To help manage this abundance, we developed an internal project-management tool eventually productized as Nama, and enticed