“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”
– John Steinbeck
I’m currently at a 3-week program, titled, Innovate Delhi Entrepreneurship Academy. It is organized by Stanford Graduate School of Business and hosted at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, New Delhi.
The debutant initiative describes itself as part business school and part start-up incubator. It itself is a start-up founded by Sharique Hasan, Rem Koning (assistant-professor and graduate student respectively at Stanford) and Ponnurangam Kumaraguru (assistant-professor at IIIT-D). Accompanying them are Randy Lubin and Adam Kowalski. Randy co-founded meetings.io, which was acquired by Jive Software. Adam is a product manager at Google.
Week One focused on the design of a product idea for entrepreneurs. Fundamental differences in start-ups include who their potential customers are (other businesses or direct users); whether they’re centred on technology or are just leveraging it; whether they deal in products or services and whether they’re giving the user something novel or just improving the efficiency of something that already exists. Despite these demarcations, the following are common essentials for the design of any start-up.
Come up with an idea
You don’t need to be Einstein to come up with one. Just like lightning, ideas can strike anyone, anytime. Unlike lighting, they keep coming back. Anything you find frustrating to do is a business idea. Anything you’d like to be able to do is a business idea as well because many people would like the same. Being already in the industry helps since you know the upcoming trends. Being passionate about a subject (read doing research) helps more since you can set new trends.
Build a prototype
A series of prototypes would lead you to an evolved product. If the prototype fails, you have failed quick and cheap, which is better than failing after investing much space and time.
Listen to people
No matter how good your product/idea is, when you show the prototype to people (potential users/investor), there will always be someone to troll you. These are great for you. Feedback is critical to know that you aren’t the only one who wants what you’re building. A king listens to his counsel, but always follows his heart. Be prepared for a change of heart. Also, never stop listening.
Tell your story
Use social media well. Engage people. Enable action.