I recently had someone message me and ask me to connect them to ‘VCs’ for funding their ‘idea’. About a year and half since I started conceptualizing my startup, I was struck by the naïveté of such a question – almost beginning to laugh. Then, a visit up memory lane made me realize that very early on in my startup journey -I had been just as confused, as many first time entrepreneurs often are.
Final year students in university with an idea that we thought could change the world – all we wanted to do was work on our startup after we graduated. But, how could we make those decisions without any money at all? Was it prudent to reject job offers when you didn’t have money or stability to run a startup? Should we talk to investors first or should we build our product? What on earth do you do once you have your moment of epiphany?! One and half years later, these are my two cents worth:
Stage 1: Validating an idea
1. Build a website and not a business plan Honestly, instead of writing out a 20 page business plan.. Try making a website instead. There is probably no better way to put your thoughts together. What I love about websites is that instead of the theoretical bplan is that yoimmediately need to become a salesman. You need to sell your vision to a customer in layman terms. So cut the jargon you use in your ‘operation plan’ section (any Bschool students out there?) and try selling your ‘idea’ by conceptualizing it first.
2. Talk to everybody you know about your idea In Asia, we sometimes tend to guard our ideas. Don’t. Talk to people. Hear feedback. It helps build your vision. It will open your eyes to things you were not aware of. Just walk up to people and ask them for feedback. Always helps.
3. Talk to potential customers. Understand them. Customers are people whose problem you are solving. Talk to them. Understand them. Just approach them for a focus group. It always helps.
4. Do NOT talk to investors. Sorry to break the truth -but no one will fund an ‘idea’.. Well unless you happen to be Steve jobs or jack Dorsey. Or your dad just happens to be a rich industrialist. So if the above doesn’t ring a bell -wait in line with the rest of us mortals, guys!