The problem with great startup ideas is that everyone has one

The problem with great startup ideas is that everyone has one

I had one of those unfortunate meetings the other day. The kind that leaves you pondering the Big Questions, like “why am I even here?”. Is Australia some weird backwater where developers are the serfs?

My day started bad. I should have just turned around. I was on my commute in, and the guy next to me was having an Unavoidably Loud Conversation. Basically, he ran some kind of Fintech financial outfit, and he was having some software developed. This week his plan was to sack the current development team (they didn’t know this yet), and replace them with an offshore group. Because the offshore guys “would just shut up and get on with it”.

Later that morning some new clients came in to meet with me. These guys wanted to tell us about their business, and then see if we were a good fit in terms of building out the technology side. They went through a typical startup pitch - the problem, the addressable market, and what their plan was.

Except there was no plan. Apart from making lots of money.

They had a basic outline of the problem, and a hunch that if we made some awesome software that provided customers easy to use and powerful tools, they probably will use that software. Which is fine - we’re totally adept at designing and building out a digital product.

One problem: they had no money to invest. Oh, and they didn’t actually want to be involved in doing any work. Other than getting paid. I tried to explain that there is a bit more to it than just having an idea and finding a developer. But their eyes glazed over. I realised I was probably in the same boat as that other development team - why didn’t we just shut up and get on with it?

I totally agree that it would be totally wonderful if Tech was just like Mining - you claim the idea (exploration license), you hire a team & trucks to dig a hole (if you don’t like them, you swap them out), you pull all the stuff out and then profit.

Having someone give you informed feedback about an idea is exceptionally valuable. I realise it is disappointing to hear that the idea you thought was ama-zing has some holes, or take longer than you expected. I understand life can be hard for “I talk you listen” style people.

So I didn’t shut up and do it. Because the execution matters. I know it does. You can have the best idea in the world, but if you can’t pull it off, it really doesn’t matter what your idea was. And you need a really smart product and development team to do this. Those stories about a company valued at a billion dollars who made everything by outsourcing to some team who shut up and did it at $10/hr are just that - stories.

Execution matters. There are plenty of great ideas, but you need an experienced and opinionated development team to help you execute

Ben Still


17 Sep 2018

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