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What is the first thing you do when you feel you're onto a great idea?

As the old saying goes "There are many ways to the top of the mountain", but I want to talk about the first step.

We've all been there. You have what you feel is a great idea at hand. Not all the variables have been worked out and to be honest, you don't even know if you know all the variables, but optimism is booming and the urge for action takes over.

What next? What do you do?
What is your first step?

32 Replies

Derek Steve Bereit
2
0
Derek Steve Bereit Entrepreneur • Advisor
Startup founder || python neophyte, NY attorney, veteran || general counsel Nimbo || co-founder Symptomly | Techstars
First step: Start calling/contacting customers -- there are no good or bad "ideas"--there is what people will pay for, ideally with rapidly scaling sales/customer base. Another first step: If it is great patentable idea--file a provisional patent.
Mitchell Portnoy
5
3
Mitchell Portnoy Entrepreneur
Healthcare Information Executive
Lev: Before you do ANYTHING, commit to writing as much as you can about your concept and mail it to yourself certified mail. When it arrives, do not open it. Save it in a place where you and someone you trust knows about it. This document serves as a time and date stamped proof of concept. It's your idea's "birth certificate," if you will. This may come in handy someday in the future when you must prove that you were first and it was your idea. Best of luck. Mitchell Portnoy [removed to protect privacy]
Noah Szczepanek
3
1
Noah Szczepanek Entrepreneur
Product Manager and Strategic Visionary
Lev: Lean methodology is all about validating your idea and incrementally identifying the features/services that make up a minimal viable product ( the bare minimum of feature/service solution that people will pay for). Here is a 5 step plan on what areas need to be validated :

http://streetsmartproductmanager.com/2014/10/16/validate-product-idea-5-steps/
Lev Kerzhner
0
0
Lev Kerzhner Entrepreneur • Advisor
COO at JamRoom
Brilliant resource. I'm a huge fan of Lean methodology, it's a wonderful philosophy and indeed highly recommended.

However, with this discussion I'm asking more about the very first steps to take after the 'aha' moment. Personally, I'm in Derek's "Call a client" approach, but I'm very interested in other approaches, other ideas.
Michael Brill
10
1
Michael Brill Entrepreneur
Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products
Take 30 minutes and write it down in your Great Ideas document.
Ignore it for a couple weeks.
Hopefully you'll forget about it and get back to executing the great idea you were already executing on.
Ignore it for another week.
If you can't get it out of your head then talk to a few friends who are used to hearing your wacky ideas and will happily vomit on them.
By this time your brain has probably had enough elapsed time to process.
Now go talk to customers, investors, et al.

If you simply go from an idea to talking to customers/investors and then don't follow through, then you start to appear to be indecisive. After a couple times it's "ugh, Lev's got another idea." That's a downside of lean.




Bob Binder
1
0
Bob Binder Entrepreneur
Member of Technical Staff at Software Engineering Institute | Carnegie Mellon University

Do the numbers - make a guess at the addressable market. Assume you're off by a factor of ten - does it still pay the bills? Why would anybody be willing to pay for it? Work out what you'll need to get to a MVP, and then to cash flow positive.

Then, do everything Alberto Savioa suggestsin his pretotyping manifesto http://www.pretotyping.org/

Keith Hopper
3
0
Keith Hopper Entrepreneur • Advisor
Product Innovation
Start discussing your idea with people you respect. Make sure this isn't just fishing for compliments to help build up your confidence. Instead, ask for all the reasons this idea won't work. Use this information to
1) wend your way to the core value of the idea (which often gets conflated with the package the idea comes in, e.g. product features)
2) improve the idea through others' reactions and suggestions
3) reframe each challenge that goes unresolved into a hypothesis that needs to be tested. I am a fan of this guide http://scalemybusiness.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-minimum-viable-products/
4) Test your willingness to stick with this idea. If you still are excited after getting beaten down, you may be on to something
Mark I. Koffsky
1
0
Mark I. Koffsky Advisor
Partner, Koffsky Schwalb LLC
After you have written the idea down on paper, consider filing a provisional patent application The filing fee is cheap (usually $130) and there is very little attorney time to prepare and file one, This can preserve your right to file for a patent on that idea for one year while you test it out in the market.
Kevin Lentz
3
0
Kevin Lentz Entrepreneur • Advisor
Let's ship great products
I recently had just such a moment. I first casually threw the idea out to a couple of people who's opinions I respected. They thought not only was it worth pursuing but might become really big. Based on that, I filed a provisional (cost $260). With that in my pocket, I'm going through LinkedIn contacts to start customer interviews while I learn as much as I can about the industry.
Mark I. Koffsky
1
0
Mark I. Koffsky Advisor
Partner, Koffsky Schwalb LLC
One important caveat with provisionals is the they only protect what is disclosed. If you have any further innovations you may need to file additional provisionals within the year that you filed the first provisional.
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