We need more starters. More entrepreneurs. More of the bad ones and more of the good ones because they both contribute to the ecosystem and help spreading the good fire around.
Which is why I have decided that early this year I will take a step back and focus not only on early stage companies but on those on the verge of starting one. Both matter. Both deserve some attention.
I am not a domain expert…
This is usually the smallest issues that somehow still manages to confuse prevent and scare people off from starting a company. Here come the good news — most of the founders weren’t domain experts. Some of them became domain experts on the way, or didn’t make it up for the lack of expertise in between at all (like the Sopranos case might have turned).
Great founders are not necessarily great makers or engineers. They often are great leaders, great salesman or simply great motivators. The best example would probably be the good old Steve Jobs. He was no master at computers the way Steve Wozniak was. But his biggest talents was recognizing where each piece of the puzzle belongs, finding those pieces and persuading them to come into his puzzle.
A small rule of thumb — If you are in dilemma on whether to start a company now or become a domain expert first, here is the trade-off — Start now and use the next 2 years to become a domain expert.
Can’t great ideas worth working on
There is no definite answer to that and in most cases what works best is not to find the best ideas but to have a process that quickly discards the bad ones. Try to ramp up some sales as early as possible, iterate and then see if that brings you more sales, then hire few more people to scale up. Repeat.
If the first level does not happen and your growth is sluggish, discard quickly and move on to the next
What if I love doing what I do but it is not much profitable and others don’t approve it?
Keep doing some more of that and ignore what others say. No one has built his life story on listening to others. Just make sure you make a comfortable living out of what you do because we all have duties sooner or later.
Here is another 3 questions framework for finding great ideas working on I often suggested to startup founders:
- Is this one of the 3 problems this person most wants to solve this year?
- Have they come up with a good enough workaround already?
- Do they have budget and are they willing to pay for it?
Should I be focusing on growth first or perfecting the product first?
This assumes that you are no longer in an idea stage which is a great sign. However the answer to such binary question still doesn’t come easier because it is a type of question where founders almost plead for a definite answer that will help them discard the other alternative.
Both things matter. So you should focus on both. Here is a small rule of thumb — If you have retention issues, don’t spend time on PR because PR won’t fix a leaking product.
If you have been marking continuous growth for a while, get back to the product and further improve it.
What do you look for when analyzing a startup application?
Your decision of starting a company should not have anything to do with a refusal or acceptance of your startup incubation application in EVC Ventures or any other accelerator.
Few helpful hints when we review startup applications — Do founders have unique insights on how to acquire customers? Are they able to communicate the idea in brief manner? It should not take more than 10 minutes for ideas and business models to be clearly communicated.
We are further biased towards action oriented people. Provide evidence that you have made something, something that people can click on and use.
Our next batch is now opened for applications. Apply here