The Difficulty of Being a Good Idea

Of the 300-odd startups that approach me every year for evaluation, there are quite a good number whose idea to create a startup originates from the fact that they have faced some challenge with a product or service. Hence the founders decide to convert their own problem statement into a solution for the world. To them, I simply ask one question: Have you got the idea validated?

Next, if you have identified a problem, do you think people want it to be solved? If yes, are they willing to pay for it? Generally, the conversation goes silent after these statements. The ones that survive such a discussion are the ones who know exactly what they are getting into. It is quite a challenge to determine the basis on which a startup company may be built.

One thing that never ceases to amaze me is how every startup I have worked with begins with a nearly impossible vision and achieves it despite all odds. I still remember how I and the founders of a new age startup in Pune used to sit at the end of the day and they would have a glow on their face: “Hey do you know, we collected three more cheques today and two of our earlier users have agreed to renew their business with us.” It is important to realize that the Eureka moment does not come every day. So, when the moment of breakthrough does come, it is important for one to be prepared to give it their best shot and not let the moment pass.

There are many examples of how technology and product startups have impacted millions of users, and they all have a common basis—identifying the need correctly and delivering a meaningful solution to fulfil the need. Every successful company I crossed paths with remained focused on the main idea while always being open to diversifying and scaling to higher levels. However, this is easier said than done.

It is a nail-biting experience to go through all the ideas a hunch may generate, and ultimately settle on one that must be focused on to develop it further. Moreover, there is always the risk that the idea that appeals to you the most may have already been taken up by someone else to create a product/service—a fact that may come to light just when you are ready to take the plunge as an entrepreneur.

There is a common perception that making something cheaper, better, and greener is a sure way of entrepreneurial success. However, the aspect that the startups I interacted with struggled with was how not to create a solution with just a marginal impact but to launch a service that would change the world for many. Small enhancements and improvements or copying international services and launching them locally may be viable but do not produce the wow factor. An idea that strikes a chord with the consumer and creates a subconscious wow is what rises to the top and starts to stand out.

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