In the past few days alone, half of my office hours with startups have resulted in exactly the same feedback, in a critical but advisory way:
- I don’t care
- You’re telling me about the product, the solution
- I have no idea how to help you, stop selling me
8 different startups fixated on telling me what they’re doing, and how they’re solving the problem they perceive; failing to inspire me to agree with them.
The consistency in all 8 of those startups, the consistency distinct from the others met?
Sole, technically oriented founders. People who build solutions.
In far too many elevator pitches and pitch decks, founders fail to appreciate that no one cares WHAT you are doing nor even that it solves a problem when we don’t yet agree that there is a problem, an opportunity, and that your *team* can capably address it.
You *think* your idea matters. You think your pitch is intended to explain to people how your idea is a good one, that it’s feasible, and that what you’re building will solve the problem. But if you alone lack the skills to build an enduring, competitive company, WHAT you are doing is irrelevant. If you lack the knowledge of the market necessary for your solution to be feasible as a venture, I assure you, you have nothing.
And I don’t use the word *assure* lightly; I guarantee it, you do NOT know that you have a valid idea and that it’s feasible. No amount of showing me your product will convince anyone otherwise – the idea and the solution aren’t what matters.
Many founders exude overconfidence that they KNOW their market, the problem, and the customers. Too many founders claim that their solution (patented no less), will work.
No one has ever known.
If you know it, do it, go be a trillionaire.
Startups and successful ventures are NEVER about the idea and the solution. They are about the people capable of accomplishing things no one else ever has. And you can’t *know* something that hasn’t yet been accomplished.
If you had an idea for a restaurant (a new business), I’d give you the benefit of the doubt that you could know it should work because we can practically know how to run an existing type of business. But if this is a new model for an innovation, you can’t know – you don’t know. It’s not possible to *know*
Thus, it’s not feasible. Your pitch fixated on a product solving the problem is irrelevant because we’re not first convinced that there is a problem you can capably solve. Not only can you not know that it’s feasible, but you also think it is, and yet you (alone) can’t do it – thus, you’re wrong.
Now, I’m being a bit harsh on purpose.
People with ideas (and particularly tech or research-oriented people who are certain of themselves), need to stop wasting their own time, money, and as a result, everyone else’s time and money. Your idea is worthless. The solution or tech is worthless. There is an immeasurable amount of tech and good ideas stuck away in minds, offices, IP, and even patents – all worthless.
Worthless because the ONLY thing that matters, what makes things valuable, is the market: demand, your ability to compete, and your ability to scale it to create value.
You could have a functioning cure for cancer in your mind, and while you claim it’s feasible, if it can’t be made, produced, paid for, and delivered, it’s worthless.
Change your Perspective and Priorities
- Go talk to hundreds of random people, not customers! Tell them about it. Listen. Hear. Your audience should be comprised of children and your grandmother, or you’re doing it wrong. In fact, start right now, reply in the comments with your idea – go ahead, use the audience here to freely promote what you’re doing. If you’re unwilling or afraid, because you think your idea is special, you’ve already lost.
- Stop fundraising or selling and start finding the people who CAN do it and who want to do it with you. Particularly, market-oriented people who can validate and establish that there is one.
- Decide how much of your idea to give up. To give away. Either you start a company and share ownership, or give away the idea… Either way, you have nothing without 1 and 2, gained by 3, so stop spinning your wheels trying to get your certainty sold.
[photo: Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash]