Chasing an idea
I greet you, Habr. In this article, I would like to devote several paragraphs of the text to a topic that is relevant today, like startups (I think that the time is right around the corner when this word itself will become synonymous with something indecent with us). But even that is not all. I dare to encroach on the most sacred thing for a startup, his initial Idea. I’ll try to understand whether it is still worth something, and if there is any method that is not very dependent on emotions, so that there is an opportunity to somehow work constructively with these ideas.
Much of what I will talk about will be similar to the captain’s revelations, and some statements may seem to someone painted in an edifying tone (although I didn’t want this in any way). I ask readers in advance to be indulgent with the text, as everything that you read below is only an exposition of the author’s thoughts aloud on the topic, and nothing more.
Literally in every publication concerning the topic of startups, it says that the idea is worth nothing. To some extent, this is true. But I noticed that many people understand this phrase too negatively. In my opinion, it means that a “bare idea”, no matter how good it may be, costs nothing to the investor, or to anyone else, only in an isolated form. But it’s a completely different matter when there is an idea and there are people who are ready to do everything for the sake of its realization. If at the same time among them there is a talented person, the idea can change very, very much, and if you work hard, you can find many facts in world history that confirm this. Agree, pretty good reason.
So, I hope I was able to convince you that the idea + the author, together, at least something, are worth it. Now the only thing left is to choose among the hundreds and thousands of ideas of their own one. The one on which you can put everything for the sake of which it is not scary to leave work and take out a loan by laying down (your own!) Apartment or car. And here the problems begin.
Problem of choice
Watching the performances of the guys at various start-up parties, with burning eyes telling today about the discount aggregator, which naturally has no analogues, and tomorrow, with the same eyes, about the fifth generation new social network, I thought that only we had such a problem . But, as it turned out, I was mistaken, having been surprised to read about throwing teams between ideas and a radical change in presentations at the last moment, before performances, in Paul Graham's exemplary Y-combinator. What can we say about others.
Thus, we come to the important question: are there any methods to sort out your own ideas somehow, on the basis of some laws and facts, and not just about emotions? And is it possible to use all this to finally make an important “first step” on the path to realizing the best of ideas? Based on that, let it be on illusory, but nevertheless grounds in its prospects, and not rushing about every day in doubt. Actually, everything that follows is an attempt to present to the public one of the variants of such a system.
Components of the idea
For the first time, the idea of decomposing the “startup idea” into components and highlighting the most important of them came to my mind when I read this article . Some smart guys took the concepts of two fairly popular projects, Pinterest and Instagram, and combined them in one bottle, creating their own Pinstagram.
It makes no sense to talk about evaluating the success of this project. Also, we will not talk about the win-win concept of the “rethinking” of Western startups, which many of our it-entrepreneurs sin, this is not about that. The important thing is that Pinstagram unexpectedly turned out to be an example of organic synthesis of two components, albeit “little” borrowed. And what is “organic synthesis”?
As far as I can remember, I always liked metaphors. And in this context, there are several options for portraying the idea of a startup. For example, you can portray it as a recipe for soup. Soup always has some basic components, without which it is impossible in principle (for example, water or broth), there are basic elements that can differ greatly, and there are spices that, despite their meager fraction in relation to the total mass, radically affect to the end result. And most importantly, even when you add the right components (quality products), but in the wrong combination, it may turn out that no one wants to eat your stew, because she will come out tasteless.
Assuming the remoteness of the audience of this resource from the culinary theme, one can propose another metaphor, where the startup will no longer be a cook, but a kind of geneticist-experimenter. He can insert various genes with certain properties (for example, a resistance gene or a viral gene) into the DNA of a new organism (his future startup). But no matter how cool genes were laid in the beginning, they can not combine well with each other, and as a result, the body will not have a chance to survive.
These metaphors clearly demonstrate the importance of deliberately combining the smaller parts from a certain set into something larger. But after a little thought, I decided to use an even simpler image, where the synthesis of an idea for a startup seems to be a collection of some kind of puzzle. From a large number of pieces, we are trying to collect a meaningful picture, using different means for this, as a sequential search, and, in some cases, a file. Small pieces can be combined into larger fragments, however, if, as a result, these fragments do not converge, you will have to reassemble them and reassemble them in a new way.
So, here, in my opinion, are the 6 most important components that any idea of a future super-project should contain. Let's consider each of them in detail.
Why did I decide to start with them? Probably because, to put it figuratively, before you start to do anything at all, it is better to look around first. A trend is not just a fashion trend or a beautiful wrapper, as many people think. Trends also show the relevance of technology in the market, trends and willingness to perceive your decision by the audience at the initial stage. Knowledge of the main trends (and the reasons for their occurrence) can be attributed to preliminary market research, but in a more generalized form.
Probably inspired by board games, I drew a number of trend cards (if I’m interested, I can lay out the whole set), which, having previously printed and cut it out, is quite interesting to use, both for brainstorming in splendid isolation and for entertainment with friends at lunchtime break.
Move on. Having a solvable problem is the most important component of a startup. It is a pity that this is so often forgotten. If there is no problem, then why would anyone use your product at all? Someone will say that his product does not seem to solve any problems, but simply is better than analogues, or cheaper. But the fact that it is better in some ways means that competitors are worse in some ways, which means that their users already have a problem, but so far they cannot formulate it. It is important that you do this for them.
In my opinion, in the field of startups, the problems should be divided according to the criterion of “pain” (criticality for the user). The more “painful” you choose a problem, the more success your startup can expect in the future, however, it’s not so easy to find a solution for a complex problem, you are not the only one so smart. And there is no single answer, because the correctness or incorrectness of the choice of a problem critically depends on the quality of the solution obtained, on your competence and resources (for more details, see the solution).
I’ll also write a few words about the features of the “technical mentality”, or why, in my opinion, the leading part of successful startups is created and managed by former techies. What is so special about the technical way of thinking? I think the point is not that such thinking is more subordinate to logic, but that techies are taught to solve problems all their lives by analysis (decomposition) and synthesis (union). With this approach, unsolvable problems do not exist in principle, I seriously, because any global problem can be divided into smaller components, and already work with them. And in order to avoid possible meaningless holivars, I note that in terms of communication and other social interactions, where it is not logic that is important, but empathy, i.e. susceptibility to other people's emotions, the humanist will make a techie like a kitten (alas). And that’s all, by the way,
I digress from the topic. Why, in fact, did I talk about the types of thinking? Moreover, when searching and researching problems, there is nothing more important than analysis, i.e., as mentioned above, decomposition into smaller components. Of course, bright insights illuminate most often unexpectedly (for example, as the appearance of “relationship status” for Facebook was shown in the notorious film “Fincher’s Social Network”), but certainly not from scratch.
I think that a good training in the ability to analyze problems, to lay in the initial idea of a startup, will be an attempt to analyze the problems solved or not yet by well-known companies. And also their components. Here are a couple of the roughest examples in the form of a simplified piece of the mind map.
A little more about Path , Pair , Airtime, Badoo , Color .
From the analysis of the problem and taking into account current current trends in the world, one or more solution options logically follows. Most likely, the decision will be preliminary first. Over time, and in the process of working on an implementation, it can change beyond recognition, become easier and more elegant, or vice versa more complicated and confusing.
It is also worth noting that such an important parameter of any solution as its “completeness”, which shows the degree of usefulness of the user's “pain” solution. Then you can roughly evaluate the ratio: the importance of the problem - the completeness of the solution. And it often happens that a complete solution to the problem of sorting collections of photographs with cats will be more viable and better for business than, say, a very superficial solution to global problems such as the global economic crisis or the mortality of human life.
When looking for a solution, it is still important to clearly represent your target audience, its interests and desires. Do they want to use your decision, is it well suited for them, how much does your virtual thinking model of potential target audience match the real thinking of the audience. Various smart marketers advise conducting all kinds of surveys and focus groups from representatives of Central Asia, although they also say that trusting the results is also not particularly worthwhile. In any case, I think it will not hurt to get some representatives of potential users in your environment, describe to them your version of the solution to their problems and find out what they think about it.
Now we can talk about three components that are inextricably linked with the personality of the author of the Idea. It is because of the presence of these components that a naked idea is worth nothing, and most likely therefore, no one will steal it (or even, in the case of theft, it will simply fail).
Let's start with competency. Most often, this concept means only work experience in the chosen professional field. But, in my opinion, this is not a completely correct definition. Imagine a person who has worked for 20 years in the banking sector, in an office he hates, but at the same time, since childhood, in his spare time collecting model models of airplanes from the Second World War. In what area is his competence and knowledge more? In the field, which he worked for a long time, but which he does not like and is not interested in, or in his favorite hobby? Of course, the ideal option is when the professional sphere and the sphere of interests coincide, but this happens less often. Anyway, the sphere of interests is most often wider than the professional one.
In other words, I mean that it’s more logical to come up with a startup in those areas that are of interest to you, and an ideal option in which you are also well versed, which partially (and sometimes strongly) already imposes restrictions on areas for finding problems and available decisions.
Also, in addition to a formal definition of your area of interest and knowledge of skills in a specialized specialty, it would be nice to think in advance what roles you can assume when implementing the chosen idea, especially at the initial stage. And the more your multiclass fits, the better. Moreover, the idea has more chances to survive and turn into something more.
Resources are not only free cash on your card, although they are, of course, as well. In this case, resources mean everything that you have and that may be useful for implementing the chosen idea.
Is there a couple of familiar programmers or designers who are ready to help out with a prototype for friendship or beer? Or maybe there is a free room, which at first can be used as an office? A familiar banker, relationships with important people, a couple of extra computers, and a router, mom, ready to sit with the children, if any, and feed your employees ... All this is a valuable resource. Finally, a couple of the most important ones are your free time and your skills.
The above things are meant as positive resources, but do not forget that there are resources with a minus sign, and they should also be taken into account. Payments on a mortgage for ten years in advance or a loan for a new car will not allow you, right away, to quit your main job and immerse yourself in the realization of your dream. As well as payment for rental housing or alimony to his ex-wife. Poor health and angina pectoris will not allow you to work non-stop for 18 hours for a long time, and children running around will not let you concentrate if you work at home.
What will be the sign of the addition of “availability of free time for the project” and “availability of financial resources from work in the office”? Most often, the answer will be individual, for each specific case.
Thus, evaluating the resources available, you can make adjustments to the plan for the implementation of the idea, including the decision itself. Having no experience in attracting large investments, you should not count on them. So, ideas like: “We build a spaceship, fly to planet X, collect diamond blocks there, return to Earth, Profit!”, Immediately disappear.
What do i want
And so we got to the last point with a strange wording. But the last one, not because it’s not important. On the contrary, I would say that he is the most important of all. The only problem is that the desired answer is quite difficult to find, and in some cases it can be more difficult than even launching a successful startup.
In principle, you can start the implementation without this point, limiting yourself (for a while) to the classic: “I want to be rich and famous”. My only request is to think, maybe this phrase will sound better in the wording: “I want people like me to be rich and famous.” Agree, because the meaning of the original wording is 100% contained in the new version. But plus to this, now there is something else, perhaps more important.
In general, in fact, the ideal formulation of the last component of the Idea (and the first in importance) should sound: “What do I want to change in the world?”. It just so happens that any of our actions, every word that is accidentally thrown, changes the world, in one direction or another. Whether we want it or not. The difference is only in scale. But, if we want to build really something big and global, it would be nice to understand in advance why we are building this big.
If you still are not too lazy and, having delved deeply into yourself, really find the answer to this question for yourself, I guarantee you will not regret the time spent. This is, like, unexpectedly found on the road, A-class armor, like, a free buff of maximum level and long duration, like ... well, you understand :) For a person who knows what he wants, there are no failures or failures, but there are only corrections in terms of and valuable experience points.
That’s all for me. I wish everyone good luck in implementing their own mega-projects. And in conclusion, I only note that in reality it is not difficult to change the world. It is more difficult to change it so that later it would not be a shame. Remember this.