“I’m an idea person” — horse-shit
Warning this is a rant. I get asked occasionally to be the technical co-founder in a start-up. I shy away from these opportunities most of the time because I don’t feel like these “idea” co-founders understand the amount of work that goes into not only building a product, but marketing it, positioning it, selling it, and maintaining relationships with customers. Frankly I don’t want to hold your hand…
Tough love time.
Your ideas could be the greatest ideas in the history of the world but if you’re not going to put in the work to make them happen then why should I?
Entitlement. That’s really all it is.
I learned to code, video-edit, pitch, build slides, break down problems and a plethora of tools in my toolbox to enable myself to create and express my own ideas, selfish as that may be. I don’t claim to be the best, even good at all or any of those skills. They’ve just allowed me to express my ideas in a variety of different mediums (no pun intended).
I don’t mind providing my advice and potential solutions on how I would approach your problem (I’ll also admit I have little context for your situation so always take any advice including mine with a grain of salt). But I won’t start a company with you, and there are a couple of reasons for that.
I don’t want to hear that you aren’t a technical person and can’t code, frankly I couldn’t care less. To this objection, I have only one thing to say:
- Prototype the idea on Google Docs
- Email people manually
- Get customers to pay you upfront and use the money to build an MVP
- Use another product or service to prototype your idea (Airtable, Webflow, Square-Space, Wordpress)
- If it’s hardware, build a prototype out of cardboard, Duct Tape, Flash-Lights or other creative solutions
- And sure, if you have the money, pay someone to build it for you
“Find. A. Way.”
Ideas are a dime a dozen. What I care about when I’m deciding whether I want to work with you is character. It’s innate curiosity. Are you willing to/curious about learning new things.
To give you an example of who not to work with. Someone who only cares about perception. You’ll notice these people because they’ll say they’re interested in a field and not know anything about it. Like the blockchain craze. I found very few blockchain founders who understood the value prop and limitations with the blockchain.
You can even sit down with them (they’ll ask you to teach them) and often you find them checked out not listening to a word you’re saying. I don’t actually know what the root cause is, maybe it’s insecurity, maybe it’s a fear?
Unsolicited Advice: I say don’t worry about being the best at something just yet! You’re just starting! There’s something more important than being the best at something, and the key trait I look for when deciding who I want to work with.
When I look to work with someone, I want someone agile, fast to learn new things, and not afraid to pick up new skills. Not someone focused on vanity metrics like, look at whose following me, I got this many likes on my post, I have this clout, I know “x”, “y” and “z”. (Yes, but do they know you? — joke) Frankly, that’s just pandering to your ego. It’s fun, and I do it sometimes too, but it doesn’t mean much.
If you’re doing it for a product (marketing) it’s different. If you consequentially already have “x” number of followers, great it can’t hurt. It’s when that’s the only thing you have to contribute, that it becomes an issue for me. Can you make a significant amount of money primarily focusing on growing your audience? Absolutely. It’s just not a business I’m frankly interested in right now. It is an area that you should invest in? Yes. It just not the end all be all in my mind. Just like building a product isn’t the end all be all in starting a company. I value your mindset and creativity exponentially more.
Really all I’m trying to say it. At-Least try to bring something to the table. An idea is usually brought to life with a conjunction of other ideas, so most of the time the initial idea is just a starting point. The final product turns out to be drastically different. I don’t care if you’re the best coder, marketer, sales-person in the world. I just want you to be able to figure stuff out and not have the “tech-guy” figure it out.
Otherwise, I’ll leave you and work on something else. Not because I wanted to steal your idea. Not because I was evil. Not because all tech people are mean and stupid. But because I couldn’t stand to baby sit you…
Lot’s of loaded ideas. If you feel like I’ve missed something or find a flaw in my reasoning, start a discussion, let’s have a conversation!
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