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Are there tool to evaluate start-up ideas?

Has anyone used or know of a tool or spreadsheet that can help evaluate and rank business ideas? Let's say you have 10 ideas and are not sure which one is the best. You would rank each one based on a series of weighted criteria. For example: market size/opportunity, competitor strength, level of differentiation, time to market, cost to build, monetization model, etc... The result would help the entrepreneur decide which one to go with.

Of course I can build this myself but why reinvent the wheel if such a tool exists.

Thanks!

40 Replies

Sam McAfee
0
0
Sam McAfee Advisor
Building Popup Incubators for Corporate Innovation Programs
I haven't heard of such a tool, but I love the idea. As a consultant at Neo, we had a lightweight framework for evaluating new ideas, but we did it serially for each idea. It never occurred to me to line them up together.

I would love to see this if you build it, or I'd even take a crack at doing it with you. I think the key components are to try and quantify as many things as possible with real world data, even those things entrepreneurs typically shy from quantifying. Several of the factors you listed, for example like competitor strength, will be at best wild estimates at first, until you start testing the ideas. But it could still be a good way to organize your idea finding phase.

Let me know how it goes. :)
Sean Carney
0
0
Sean Carney Entrepreneur
Innovator
I too have not heard of such a tool. But it does sounds similar, or at least could benefit from the methodology used to manage an innovation portfolio.
Scott McGregor
1
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Scott McGregor Entrepreneur • Advisor
Advisor, co-founder, consultant and part time executive to Tech Start-ups. Based in Silicon Valley.
You might check with Founder Institute (FI.co) which has founders in its program generate and compare 3 ideas and select one to pursue for the remainder of the program. Most startup ideas are bad. Inevitably they have at least one of these problems: 1) they are so innovative that there is little evidence that that there will be a large enough market for your product or that you will get sufficient share in it. Or there are so many competitors with similar products it is not clear how you will steal enough share. Only by buying an existing successful business can you avoid one of these uncertainties. Ultimately, entrepreneurs need to remain committed to making their business survive long enough to thrive. Most will pivot ideas several times so the goodness of the ideas is often less important than how much your goals inspire you to persist. This is why most investors pay more attention to the team and their histories than to ideas and possible futures. Scott McGregor, Scott@soundfit.me, (408) 505-4123 Sent from my iPhone
Jim Casparie
0
0
Jim Casparie Advisor
Proven Expert at Finding, Qualifying, Funding & Building Entrepreneurial Investment Value
We developed a tool back in 2001 that rates the fundability of entrepreneurial companies. Although not exactly what you are looking for, the TVA tools take entrepreneurial ideas and -- through a proprietary process of collecting information -- we are able to determine which idea's (companies) are most investible. We've been used by Entrepreneur and Forbes magazines and many VC and angel groups across the country. Check us out at www.tvausa.com.
Mikhail Gorelkin
1
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Mikhail Gorelkin Entrepreneur • Advisor
Algorithm & AI Architect / Developer
There is a new trend now: if you develop a successful business X, someone could design a X + Artificial Intelligence and take your market away with a more effective solution. Examples: fully automated trading, personalized e-commerce based on recommenders (Amazon, Netflix), etc.
http://www.shivonzilis.com/machineintelligence
Stephen Campbell, PMP
0
0
Project Management Professional
I created a similar spreadsheet for my nephew who was looking to rank/evaluate his college options. When it was finished I stepped back and laughed when I realized how universal the tool was to a number of decisions in life, including start up ideas. Might just use it for that purpose myself, thanKS for the idea! Will share if interested.
Ralf-Rainer von Albedyhll
2
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Ralf-Rainer von Albedyhll Entrepreneur • Advisor
CEO - Secure.cc
We have developed a system called CanInvest which does exactly what you are describing. In this case the objective was to reshape the startup funding process and to bring it into the 21st. Century. I attended lots of pitching events and noted that typically there were no immediate results which - as an entrepreneur I found frustrating. My reasoning was that IF investors had all pertinent information available to them including due diligence - they should be in a position to evaluate an opportunity on the spot and get off the pot, so to speak.

Using the system the investor would score each opportunity based on the criteria you describe such as team etc. in order to see immediately how every opportunity stacked. If this is something you want to check out you can contact me at ralfmrATme.com.
Bharathi Masilamani
2
0
Bharathi Masilamani Entrepreneur • Advisor
Software Development Manager at Amazon
LeanCanvas should be a good tool to get off the ground. I have used it and it works great. The tool is no magic or a silver bullet to solve all issues, but at least gives a template to focus and follow through ideas in each area of importance in a startup.

I have heard that this canvas largely applies only to tech startup - i have used this in my tech startup and has helped me...but no datapoints on other verticals.

YMMV..
Peter Jones [LION: li.blueoyster~@~gmail.com]
0
0
Peter Jones creates solutions for product USP, market messaging, team building, venture and other commercial capital
I hope one day to build such a tool myself, I have the design in mind already.

Meantime, you need to make sure audience feedback is very high up in your reckoning, since in the end it is your audiences who will decide on the viability or otherwise of your ideas.

You will need a way to bootstrap your ideas into a format that gives audiences enough of a handle on what you are trying to offer, so that you can see what sort of traction you actually generate, even from a prototype.

Good luck, Hope you have some great partners near you who can help!
Dimitry Rotstein
3
0
Dimitry Rotstein Entrepreneur
Head of R&D at SafeZone
A few months ago I had exactly the same problem - to evaluate and compare 10 startup ideas - so I built a lean-canvas-like page for it, and it worked great:

http://miranor.com/canvas/

Unlike canonical canvas, it allows you to see both short-term and long-term potential.
It may not provide mathematical evaluation (yet), but such evaluation would probably be largely arbitrary anyway - startup potential is still not exact science. But at least in my case it helped me filter out "bad" ideas with low potential, and of the few that survive, picking one isn't difficult - just go with the one you like to implement most.
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