“Start -“ up ”or“ down ”?, Guide for Dummies ... with ideas

    Not often in the Russian-language network appear revelations of the MASTER ... on the topic of startups.
    I propose to read ..., and compare with your presentation on the topic of startups.

    Regards, Vladimir Hakham.
    “I have already (including here) made an analogy of the situation on the social Internet with the times of the Gold Rush. As then, now the cost of the “prize”, along with the simplicity of the toolkit, attracts hundreds of startups, speaking in modern Russian, to the mines. And again, in reality, everything turns out to be much more complicated than many of them imagined. I will try to clarify my idea on one problem, which often has to be solved by idea generators - the founders of startups. It turned out a kind of roadmap for beginners, developed on the basis of our own experience ...

    Statement of the problem

    1. there is an idea that, and you are sure of it, will turn the world around (at least the world of the social Internet)
    2. there is a preliminary understanding that you cannot do this idea alone (the reasons can be very different, we'll talk about some of them later)
    3. no team
    4. no money


    1. Who is to blame? - remove the question. Each of us already has an answer to it. In particular, we know well who is to blame for the fact that we do not have money.

    2. What to do? - choose the answer option (you can ignore my comments):

    - patent the idea so that you can sell it later (accepting the above conditions, I think the session is pointless)
    - sell the idea right away (I also think it’s almost a waste of time -
    you’re unlikely to find anyone who wants to buy a “pig in a poke) ” - give the idea (why not? There is an Open Source, there is an Open ID, and now there will be an Open Idea. how many such gifts are scattered around the blogosphere!)
    - forget about it and give birth to a new one (we will always be in time)
    - make sure that the idea still "spins" (I am in favor)

    3. Where to start? - answer options depend on the selected answer according to claim 2. I want to share with the reader some thoughts in case he or she chooses to DO option in clause 2.. In this case, there are not so many options at our disposal:

    • develop a business plan for the idea, and then look for money
    • look for money immediately for the implementation of the idea
    • put together a team to fully realize the idea and do without any outside investments at all
    • put together a team to implement the idea at the level of a working prototype, and then look for money
    • create a prototype all the same yourself, and then sell it along with the idea

    Your skepticism about business I already explained the plan in the first stages of the web project earlier. Start looking for money right away? You can, of course, try. However, only under one of the conditions (and it is better if all conditions are together):

    - you have several completed projects behind you
    - you are well known in your professional circle
    - you have familiar investors or acquaintances of these friends who are ready to vouch for you

    Is this all there? But then, when you consider that you are still so smart (otherwise, where are the ideas from?), The counter-question is “American”: why aren't you a millionaire? Very sad thoughts sometimes come to mind when you try to answer this question yourself. But let's not talk about sad things.

    And if you try everything at once and without money? Will not work! The fact is that creating a new product by programming is by no means limited. You do not want to make a product for a dozen of your friends, hundreds of acquaintances or several hundreds of random fans, but you dream of an audience where the bill goes to millions or tens of millions. True? And if this is so, then we need very substantial injections to perform a lot of work that is not always pleasant and / or unfamiliar to you, such as: marketing research, documentation, good Help, advertising, reliable hosting in all respects, copyright protection, other legal issues , very high-quality testing, great design, working with the internal cash flows of your resource, accounting and other financial issues and so on and so forth.

    So, we will rely only on a working prototype. Then one question remains: rely only on yourself, or create a team. Let’s talk about this ... I’m

    connected by one chain

    ! Unfortunately, it disappears right away. Even if you are a super programmer and are ready to switch to bread and water for a couple of months, fully devoting yourself to your project and not doing anything else. And that's why it disappears ...

    You do not need to be a great specialist in order to look at the many social resources on the Internet today and understand that the vast majority of them are based on a very limited tool kit. About ten more or less “open”, so-called engines and several relatively accessible “libraries” of improvised building materials based on technologies like ASP.Net, PHP and AJAX. Startups turned out to be connected by one chain (instrumental).

    And these “connected” startups on these de facto standard base platforms continue to produce new, faceless and now almost nobody needs social resources. After all, it is known that from a change of places (design elements), the sum (final functionality) never changes. But you have an idea that is designed for something completely different. You dream of a resource with a “face not a common expression” and functionality that no one else can find. And in order to realize this “big and white”, you need to start almost from scratch, with the creation of many building bricks with your own hands. And while all this needs to be done quickly enough. Like it or not, but work is measured by more than one “man-month”.

    By the way, to the statement often sounding from the mouth of idea generators that they do not need any startup, since their ingenious concept can be realized only in a very well-developed social resource. It will not work, even if your idea to the owners of this resource will really please. Owners will like the idea, but the resource itself, alas, is not compatible with it. And it’s unlikely that anyone will want to break already promoted even for the sake of a very beautiful idea.

    This also applies to traditional requests that we, the users, turn to the owners of the resource when we ask them to change or add something to the resource. In most cases, they simply cannot do this, even if they really want to - the basic platform does not allow it.

    So, there remains only team building, which we are moving on to ...

    You can only believe in the idea.

    Before us, there is no end. And everything is only based on future profits. But after all, developers - potential members of the team being created need to live on something. And if you also feed the family ?! So, as a rule, each of them can give the project only part of its time. It follows that in the mythical “human months” of these same months there should be fewer, these “people” should be more. And would these “people” be more skilled, but more experienced. Where to find them? Yes, only in the virtual world. Soon the fairy tale affects, but in fact there are many problems.

    All geniuses have their own ideas, and each of them believes that only his ideas can turn the world around. Two geniuses on the same team, two bears on the same den. But in order to start a gratuitous labor at first, one has to deal with someone else's idea and, most importantly, to believe in it. And here you don’t know what to do with your ideas.

    Programmers from all countries ... Well, with geniuses, everything is clear. And if not a genius, but simply a good specialist, then he prefers to work on the principle of Ostap Bender: “In the morning, money, and in the evening chairs.” Well, if not the full amount, then at least 50% of the advance. And all these talk about equity participation for him is all the same that (again a “bearish” analogy) an invitation to share the skin of an unkilled bear. I remind you that you don’t have money, but even would be, I would not recommend issuing any advance payments to virtual partners. Money is by no means virtual.

    But they can "throw" (I recall, you do not have a patent, and it will not always help). And so you think, not only you, but also your potential partners, All, although a little bit, do not believe each other. Indeed, in most cases, these are not friends, but only friends. And, as one colleague correctly explained to me, friends and friends are “two big differences”.

    Look for a prototype. And yet you were lucky, with your idea you lit the masses, and virtual “friends” turned out to be, if not friends, then, in any case, potentially good partners. And they decided to all unite in an online startup, initially working only “for shares”. The first thing that these same partners will ask you after conversations about money have finally calmed down is the technical task (TOR). Well, at least in order to assess the complexity of the project. We will talk about TK below, but for now, imagine that you already have it, but for now (I believe, but still ...) you decided to hold it. How do you do in that case? Look for a prototype (or prototypes)! Naturally, not the prototype that your team has yet to create, but some basic analogue with which you can compare your dream. As soon as you find, then everything is very simple. Once again, carefully work with him (with them) and try to evaluate how much your project is functionally (only functionally!) More complicated than analogues. Everything, the answer is ready for the masses. In a very schematic form, this is the formula “Sum (k1 * k2 * prototype)”, where k1 is the weight coefficient of proximity of each prototype to your task, k2 is the coefficient of its complexity compared to this prototype. And that’s all - your experienced team, they will further understand themselves. You can not find on the Internet anything even a little like your idea? Honestly, I don’t know if I should envy or sympathize with you. K2 - coefficient of its complexity compared to this prototype. And that’s all - your experienced team, they will further understand themselves. You can not find on the Internet anything even a little like your idea? Honestly, I don’t know if I should envy or sympathize with you. K2 - coefficient of its complexity compared to this prototype. And that’s all - your experienced team, they will further understand themselves. You can not find on the Internet anything even a little like your idea? Honestly, I don’t know if I should envy or sympathize with you.

    Without a piece of paper you are a bug. Even if you are the bearer of a brilliant idea. In this case, by “paper” I mean, if not a business plan, then at least TK. Otherwise, you run the risk of getting the output, (if, in general, you get something) is not at all what you have been waiting for so long and so impatiently. After all, all the initiative people gathered in your team: smile.gif.

    Shoemaker without shoes. This is me because there is no normal toolkit for collaborative engineering in today's social Internet (Enterprise 2.0, including). Here we all say: "Ah, wiki and oh, wiki." What is a wiki? Yes, nothing more than a web-based remake of Word's Track Change. Such a small SaaS. And I need SaaS tools for normal project management, bug tracking (Bug tracking) and much more, without which conducting joint development on-line is extremely difficult. In other words, almost according to Munchausen, one has to think about how to pull oneself “by the hair from the swamp” - to build a startup to create a social resource that would help others organize new startups.

    A few additional words from my own experience about what is the development of TK. Everything can be illustrated by simple comparisons. Personally, I need to:

    a) formulate an idea at the level of a blog post - a maximum of a couple of hours, and for some ten minutes is enough
    b) intelligently state the concept at the level of a “good” magazine article or section of a “good” business plan - a couple of days
    c) write TK - at least a month. And this despite the fact that in my luggage the experience of development is not one such task. And this despite the fact that I write TK, nevertheless, based on narrow professionals in their field who do not need to “chew” many things

    By the way, returning to the thesis “shoemaker without boots”, I give the idea of ​​a viable social web environment for collaboration of online startups to everyone. I do not mind - I have a lot of these ideas: smile.gif. All the same, you do not “compose” all of their TK. The rest of my life is not enough. In general, there is a lot of talk now about using social networks as a springboard for what I call an online startup incubator (I will refer to members of our Commonwealth to an article on its closed forum, which, as far as I know, the author will soon post on Habré). However, as you can see, there are a lot of hard-to-solve problems, and far from only technological ones. And yet ...

    Hope dies last

    As one now forgotten classic once taught us, you need to find the weak link and, pulling for it, try to solve a difficult problem. Such a weak link in any idea is the lack of a “good” technical task for it.

    Why should the idea generator really begin to promote his concept only after developing competent TK on it? I list it only by developing such a document:

    1. you will finally understand yourself what you really want to say to everyone
    2. you will finally answer the question whether your idea is yet another mobility and is it possible to implement
    3. you will refine the details of your concept, better understand your market niche and with whom you will have to compete
    4. you will be able to at least roughly assess the laboriousness of your idea, what kind of specialists you lack, and when you should expect the result
    5. you explain to your partners what you expect from them
    6. you will find for your team some other “geniuses” who, realizing that they are dealing with a practical person, maybe they will want to combine their ideas with yours
    7. you will get a lot of your new ideas (but, unfortunately, with the need to answer the same questions: what to do with them and why to start?)
    8. will you get benign source material for developing any other documents that you may need during the promotion, regardless of which direction you decide to move (see the statement of the problem)
    9. you will feel confident in talking about your idea with anyone, even with the worst investor. And what the hell is not joking, what if you manage to immediately sell such a well-designed idea?
    10. you will satisfy your hunger for real creative activity, which, as it may seem strange at first glance, is characteristic of many generators of ideas. As the hero of one not very decent joke said: “I won’t catch up, I’ll warm up so much” smile.gif
    11. you will feel (if you are not a web specialist yourself, of course), but what it is in practice to start developing a new product for the Internet. You will understand at least a little, but enough so that your next idea is even less divorced from life
    12. you once again prove the truth that hope dies last. Isn’t that so?

    All of this, in aggregate, will be much more useful than wasting time on developing a yet-unnecessary business plan for anyone.

    Here's an almost optimistic tragedy for a person with ideas. And you’re talking about startups. And nevertheless, although in most cases we do not have start-ups, but start-downs (this is not a disease: smile.gif, but simply tracing with “down-down”, as an alternative to “up-up”), I, as you already seen, continue to be optimistic. What I wish you all, dear brothers in misfortune - generators of all kinds of ideas! Well, what, in my opinion, should look like a “good” TK, I will try to answer in the next note.

    This post has been edited by amilner: Oct 25 2007, 01:49 PM


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