Monday, February 19, 2007

How to Avoid the Next Dot-Com Flop

As I was checking my Google Reader for interesting articles today I came across this one from The Street: How to Avoid the Next Dot-Com Flop It is a nice article about a new start-up but what stuck out to me was one section: (I added the bold type)

... one of the first mistakes Simmons and Stoppelman made was to assume their idea was original. Therefore, they were very secretive about it. "If you think you have an idea that's unique, you probably don't," Stoppelman points out.

"If the idea hasn't been built upon yet, there are probably a couple of other people out there that have the same faculties and abilities to try and pursue it that you do."

"We weren't open to much criticism because we weren't telling anyone what the idea was," he continues.

And sure enough, when Yelp launched, there were a number of competitors with very similar ideas.

"My advice there [is] don't worry about people finding out about your idea or spend a lot of time trying to keep it super-secret," Stoppelman says. "Just go out and get the feedback as soon as you can ... and get ready for mass amounts of [fine-] tuning."

Feedback in general is always useful, and certainly the earlier you receive it, the better, Stoppelman believes.

How many times have you had an idea that you thought was unique just to see something similar to it in a store or advertised somewhere? It happens to me frequently and I feel a short moment of pride that I had an idea that would have worked. The reality is, ideas are like oxygen they are just out there floating around (I'm not sure oxygen floats but you get my point). An idea is worthless if it's stuck in your head or left on a paper napkin. The ideas that change the world or possibly a person's bank account are the ones that are pursued, and rarely do they look the same as when they were first envisioned.

That is really the point of this blog. Once my readership grows and I start to get comments on the ideas I've posted here and hopefully readers submit their own ideas, this blog will serve as a feedback incubator for those ideas. Often, the idea originator doesn't have the resources or experience to implement the idea on their own but they certainly do have the vision. As Mr. Stoppleman said "Just go out and get the feedback as soon as you can ... and get ready for mass amounts of [fine-] tuning."

I really want this blog to serve as an open forum for ideas with contributions and feedback from many people, so I am going to be opening up The Digital Napkin to other contributors. If you have an idea that has some protection in the real world (copyright, trademark, patent, etc.) then please contact me so I can post it here and solicit feedback from my readers.

1 comment:

TSUPACAT said...

This was a good article and it is definantly true. Trying to be secretive about an idea usually leads to no avail as it is more than likely not that unique, also the ability to execute is far more difficult. Trust me I have started several small companies and execution is huge. I also like the incubator of ideas concept.