Where to get your idea?
You should have personal experiences that allow you to identify and resonate with the idea.
In 2 sentences, can you describe the problem and your solution? If you can’t, keep searching.
In order to change the world, you need to critically ask yourself, “Can your idea turn into a solution for a large problem?
*** NOTE: This is only true if you are building a “fundable” company. This usually means it has to be a company that can be scaled for mass growth and adoption. One way to assess this is by the company’s market potential (see below). This is not to say that non-fundable ideas are bad because these ideas oftentimes turn into great businesses; there’s just a difference in size and massive growth potential.
TK’s 4-Week Trick
This is an idea brainstorming trick that Wasabi Ventures Partner, TK Kuegler advocates to help sprout creativity and the cultivation of new ideas.
Take the next 4 weeks to isolate yourself and think. List everything you can possibly think of in regards to things you wanted to do, but couldn’t do easily. Then ask yourself these questions:
At this point, you aren’t looking to build a business. You are merely identifying problems or pains in the world that you recognize and associate frustration with.
Next, sit down with a mentor(s) and vet the list.
Build a simple Pitch Deck for your idea
This should not be a deck to go raise money. It is used to simply:
Decks are meant to help streamline and polish up your message in addition to making it easier to discuss your idea with strangers. Don’t consume too much time making it pretty, you can always work on that later, but rather focus on answering the three most essential questions when assessing a startup idea.
The 3 Questions
10% of a $1B Market = $100M/year
This is the type of number investors salivate for because it paves the way for a potential IPO.
How saturated is the market? Don’t go build another desktop OS. I learned this the harder way with the first startup I was involved with, Luxury Lites. At Luxury Lites, our initial product line consisted of mostly electronic cigarettes. And at the time, the market was very saturated, which big players like Blu and multiple larger corporations seeking to grow a presence in the industry. With creativity and initiative, my friend, partner, and the founder of Luxury Lites, Yaseen Waqar, and I decided to manifest our efforts towards creating electronic hookahs instead. This helped us capture a whole new market and compete in a new market – allowing us to scale quicker.
Is the industry looking for new things or ways to achieve an advantage? An example would be how financial institutions will do anything for an advantage.
Is it a real headache that requires Aspirin, or is it just a vitamin? An example of this would be VMware.
No, I’m not just asking this because I loved the Wolf of Wall Street. But rather is the product or service viral and/or addictive? Think Facebook, Angry Birds, and Snapchat.
Is it the same, but not the same? A small jump up from the previous or the competition. Think Macbook Air.
Ask yourself if the startup is like nothing that came before. An example of this would be the iPad.
This can include relevant industry experience in the space you’re looking to compete in.
This is always a plus because it conveys to investors and others that you are familiar of the role of a startup founder and its extreme demands.
From engineering, marketing, and PR, industry knowledge, product knowledge, to sales and financial management the team is fully equipped to execute.
If the startup is the first, the only, or the leading entity in something, emphasize this on your deck. These are great points of conversation with speaking to others, particularly investors.
You are your network. Oftentimes, in order to have a successful go-to-market strategy and execution, your relationships can mean the difference between quick traction or bust. Invest time into understanding your industry and the key leaders and influencers within it. Ask questions about the future of the industry and their thoughts. These people will serve as powerful allies as you go to battle with your startup.
Stuff that isn’t as Important
No one cares what degree you have, whether it be MBAs, Ph.D.’s, and Masters’s degrees. At the end of the day, it’s always about execution.
Amusingly enough, Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint, has a famous quote on assessing the value of MBAs in the startup ecosystem. “When valuing a startup, add $500k for every engineer, and subtract $250k for every MBA.”
As far as how secretive you should be about your idea, I’m going to agree with my good friend and venture capitalist from Andreesen Horowitz, Chris Dixon in his blog post:
“A frequent question entrepreneurs have when they are just starting their company is: how secretive should I be about my idea? My answer: you should talk about it to almost anyone who will listen. This includes investors, entrepreneurs, people who work in similar areas, friends, people on the street, bartenders, etc. There are lots of benefits to talking to people. You’ll get suggestions for improvements. You’ll discover flaws and hopefully correct them. You’ll learn a lot more about the sector/industry. You’ll learn about competitive products that exist or are being built. You’ll gauge people’s excitement level for the product and for various features. You’ll refine your sales and investor pitch. You might even discover your idea is a bad idea and save yourself years of hitting your head against the wall.” – Chris Dixon
The reality is, that anyone can come up with ideas. And even in the case when two individuals have the same idea, the manner in which they go about executing those ideas will never be the same. The design, functionality, and go-to-market will never be the same. Entrepreneurs are all different with unique outlooks, perspectives, and talents. This is where the excitement of competition comes into play. As an entrepreneur myself, I’m always eager to share my ideas and hear others. If someone does steal my idea and enables it to materialize into a startup, three things can happen.
This concludes the first part of the six-part series in the Wasabi Ventures Academy. I hope you enjoyed it and feel equipped to go out there and start brainstorming on ways to help change the world.
If you’d like to share your ideas or thoughts, I’m here to chat. As always, I’d love to hear from you and gain feedback. Feel free to tweet @rayyanislam1 or email me.
Let’s get creative.
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