You have what sounds like a brilliant idea which will change the world! So what, everyone has a great idea and it dies a natural death. Here are some ideas to avoid the pitfalls and take it to inception.
My latest blog reflecting what I experience on ground while assisting startups to scale. This is more relevant to first time entrepreneurs and not for experienced founders who have also done funding rounds.
“Idea to Inception” – How to cross the first hurdle in your start-up journey!
Everyone has ideas. They could come to you in the shower, while walking your dog, or even while you’re in class. Let’s say you have a great idea which you want to bring to the world. You think your product will be used by lots of people and will sell like pancakes. Sounds easy right? One might think that all you need to do is create a business plan and everything will work itself out. If it were that easy, well everyone would be doing it.
There is a reason why being an entrepreneur entails risk. There are many pitfalls and challenges you need to keep in mind when it comes to taking an idea and turning it into a product. One common mistake most founders make is misjudging their knowledge about the industry. A lot of entrepreneurs think that since they have prior experience working in or developing products in a certain industry, their knowledge can easily be transferred to their start-up journey. Your past knowledge is not worthless, but keep an open mind and let it not bias your approach.
Further, in order to further develop this great idea you have, there needs to be proof of concept. Proof of concept is essentially evidence or research that suggests that your concept is feasible in the real world. In order to do this, one should talk to the target market, test with users and receive feedback in order to tweak your product or scrap the idea completely.
The minimum viable product allows your team to focus on the features that the consumer needs the most, essentially the core value of the product. Focusing on this will contribute to the product’s success in the market. If your product serves the same purpose as other products in the market, you need to make sure not to neglect your competition. It is important to distinguish yourself from your competitors but at the same time you can’t lose sight of your own position in the market based on what competitors do. The last two pointers may come as a cliché, but it cannot be stressed enough how you should be patient with the process as well as you should not fear failure. Even if you are faced with setbacks, you should know that it is all part of the path. Two steps forward and one step backwards still equates to a step forward.
Fear of sharing your idea: Do not be concerned about sharing your idea with peers, mentors and advisors. Most likely your idea has already been thought of and someone is working on it. You may not be aware of it just because either they have not launched the product or they have not reached a stage where they have visibility. However when you are discussing with others try to discuss at a high level and not too much detail.
IP: IP/Patent protection is expensive so unless you have an extremely disruptive patentable product which you have validated by peers, will recommend holding off.
Here are some basic steps you should perform for taking your idea to the next step:
1. Check with you friends and peers if this is a good idea.
2. Discuss this with many potential clients if they like the thought process and get their feedback. This will also help you hone down to the features which are most attractive and you should implement in the first version of the product.
3. Research extensively online if there are other products in this space. Even though there may be others, you may have a differentiated service offering or the market may be huge enough for multiple players to co-exist.
4. Understand the market size (TAM) and be clear what specific market you want to target. Investors look for a large market as they are looking at a 100X return. However you may still be able to build a profitable business and grown organically which is absolutely fine.
5. Only when this is done, reach out to mentors, advisors, professors and thought leaders to get their feedback.
6. Once this is complete then only go to the POC stage.
7. Try to get associated with Incubators and Accelerators which are aligned with your technology and product. For example if you are building something using AI/ML then try to start at an Incubator which is focused on that.
“Anshu (Sudhanshu Srivastav) is a Mentor, Advisor, LP and Founder with a history of accelerating revenue acquisition for start-ups and planning growth strategies. He is very active with the start-up eco system including VC’s, incubators, accelerators and early stage ventures. “