TechStars notes in the raw #1

March 4, 2008 at 8:24 am 4 comments

(I took copious notes during TechStars 2007. I am opening up my notebook and sharing them with aspiring entrepreneurs.   I am going to serialize my notes on this blog.  These are my RAW notes, so sometimes people spoke too fast or were inaudible but I tried to get the gist of what they were saying. There is very little editing to these notes.)

The following questions were addressed during one of the early TechStars panels:

 1)     Do you need a brilliant idea before starting?

  • NO!!! 
  • You just need to get going.  If you ask too many people before you start and you get feedback, you are probably selling yourself short. Just start.
  • Look for analogies in paradigms.  The first internet revolution was trying to implement an analogy of the non-digital world.  Seek the next analogy.   Also consider addressing areas that failed in the first internet revolution. 

2)     How do you know if you have an idea and you should step it up?

  • When you start having people expressing need and people catching on.
  • Listen – Listen to your peer group. Listen to the right people and the people that form your market. VCs are not necessarily the market.  
  • Sometimes you have to provide what people are going to need tomorrow (the example that was given here was what Greg Reinacker did with the concept behind Newsgator).  When you ask people, they probably will tell you what they needed yesterday and not know what they need tomorrow.  So you have to be ahead of the ball game.
  • There are two ways to describe how startup ideas evolve                                                                
  1. Scratch someone else’s itch                                                         
  2. Scratch your own itch

Ultimately you have to move from 2. to 1.  

(My interpretation of what Brad Feld was saying here is that you either have to solve problems that you are having or problems that other people are having.  But to be a successful you have to end up solving problems that other people are having if you want your idea to get off the ground)

3)     Should you start a startup in the consumer space or the B2B space?

  • Relatively indifferent to consumer or B2B. The question is how you are extracting money , long term, from the people using your product
  • At this stage, getting a great service up and running is important but most importantly you need to think of how you will make money in the long term
  • Extracting money from the customer is an engineering problem. You are thinking about the “architecture of your business”.  Address how you interact with the customer for money. The internet is free but you have to work on something monetizable
  • Some people who think that they are addressing the consumer internet now, may end up with a business solution.  Keep your mind open.

MORE TO COME …..

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Entry filed under: Startups, Techstars, Web 2.0.

NLP: Unstructured thinking for unstructured data TechStars notes in the raw #2

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Duey  |  March 4, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Tom,

    Yet another great post!

    My wife and I applied to TechStars (again), but our initial idea really stinks. We’re currently trying to grope around in the dark to improve the idea. Posts like yours shed a little light on the process.

    Thanks for your insights!

    Reply
  • 2. David Duey  |  March 4, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Tom,

    Yet another great post!

    My wife and I applied to TechStars (again), but our initial idea really stinks. We’re currently trying to grope around in the dark to improve the idea. Posts like yours shed a little light on the process.

    Thanks for your insights!

    Reply
  • 3. All Great Things End With Good Intentions  |  March 10, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    […] past week, there was a series of posts that my friend Tom has begun writing, and if you are interested in TechStars (applications are […]

    Reply
  • 4. vulcanological  |  May 29, 2008 at 10:52 pm

    Vulcanological says : I absolutely agree with this !

    Reply

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