Every Idea is Crazy – Right Before it’s Real
One of the things I love about startups is that ability that a founder needs to have to see a vision before it happens. A friend of mine called it the “power of focus!”
You’ll hear people around startup often say “it’s not the idea that matters, it’s execution” that is partially true. There were people with the idea for Uber before Uber, yes they didn’t do anything with it and yes, it that case, only the execution matters.
But the MASSIVE problem with the statement is that it assumes that your idea is a good idea. There are plenty of crappy little ideas out there that you shouldn’t invest your life in, for example:
- A feature for someone else’s product – SalesforceIQ is an amazing plugin that connects Gmail and Salesforce – killing all of the other plugins in the category
- Small markets suck – creating a mobile app for organic farmers to trade produce on Vashon Island is a great hobby, not a business
Then there are massive markets opportunities – so big they are crazy. For example, Yahoo was so dominant, no one wanted to invest in a search engine competitor. But then there was Google. GM shipped an electric car and no car company ever succeeded that wasn’t started over 100 years ago, until Tesla.
Large incumbent companies in big markets scare away many investors because they see the way the market is today, not the way that the entrepreneur sees how it will be in the future. Entrepreneurs are crazy that way – and I love it!
In Seattle, we have some amazing investors. And like any market, we have some that don’t see the future the way the entrepreneurs see it. Those investors will tell you “every good company in Seattle gets funded” or “if Seattle had better entrepreneurs, they would fund more deals here”. Which like the statement above is partially true.
For the Founder, it feels like every idea is crazy, right before it’s real. For example, taking on Craigslist. A category killer that vaporized billions of dollars in valuation from the previous incumbent, the newspaper industry.
The founders would tell you that every good company does get funded – but not necessarily in Seattle. Congrats to @NickHuzar and the Offer Up team on a monster fundraising round. It doesn’t sound so crazy now, does it!
An enjoyable read. It’s like a syllogism: plug you clear vision in the major premise, your “idea” in the minor premise, presumed outcome in the conclusion and execute the experiment rejecting and replacing “ideas” until consistent. Or, the runway ends. It’s the vision that frames the experiments. You’ll know your vision is weak if run out of ideas before you run out of money and time. I don’t think people pay enough attention to the nuanced distinction between mere ideas and vision.