So there you were… walking through Ho Plaza, and suddenly it hit you – the next billion-dollar startup idea. But what do you do next? Where do you go? Who do you talk to? Well, if you’re stuck, here are a few ideas.
One: Make sure you’re solving a problem
To have a successful company, you must solve a problem for people. More specifically, you must solve a problem that people are willing to pay for. A great place to start this research is Google. Doing some quick searches to see if similar companies exist will allow you to see if other people are trying to solve the problem. Also, you can find out if people have similar complaints or issues, and if your amazing solution could address these.
Two: Start talking to people
It’s always easiest to start talking with your friends. This group is always helpful, but also very dangerous. Friends will be hesitant to speak poorly of your idea. They might just want to make you feel positive about what you’re working on. Also, your friends tend to be very similar to you, so they probably aren’t a great representation of your potential user base. Some strategies to get more honest and potentially helpful feedback are to find industry insiders who can give you more critical feedback. Also, Cornell has an amazing entrepreneurship staff, both in the Dyson School and without, that can ask probing questions to help you think about your idea in a new way. Finally, you can find groups of your target customers and ask them questions to gauge interest and potential.
Three: Start doing!
A great starting place is a small website to briefly explain your idea and collect signups of interested people. Once you’ve started getting measuring interest from a larger group, you can start building prototypes. It is important to build quickly and fast. Get ready to fail often and use the feedback from those failures to improve your future designs. Keep iterating on your product or service to ensure you are solving the real problems your customers have.
These ideas are by no means complete or the only way to go about getting your idea off the ground. But, if you’re stuck, it’s a great place to start. The most important thing is to keep forging ahead and keep being ready to change. Check back next week for my thoughts on entrepreneurship!