A little email exchange I had with an iwillteachyoutoberich reader about what to do after coming up with an idea:
After explaining his idea, Devin writes:
I have some great ideas for the marketing and business end of things, but I need an engineer or someone with some serious electronics access/background to build a prototype. Do you have any idea who I should start calling to get things in the works?
I know you said to not be concerned with giving an idea away, but I feel like this one is really dependent on being one of the first out of the gate. I’m really interested in any insight you have on who to talk to. I’d love to spitball more of the framework to you, but like the previous idea, I have precious little in terms of background, and people I approach with the idea generally aren’t very convinced no matter how passionate I lay it out for them. If I want this to work, I’m going to need to talk to someone who can provide me with enough cash to get some programmers working on it.
I think you may want to keep shopping these ideas around and hearing what people have to say. If nobody is sold on it, that usually tells you something. I don’t want to crush dreams, but I hate seeing people spending a bunch of time on me-too projects. So ask yourself: Would you use another social network? Or small device? How many of them already exist? If you still think you would, then I’d continue asking trusted people what they think and if they can recommend engineers.
I appreciate the advice. You know how it goes… You get an itch, and the next thing you know you forget about it, and then a year down the road, someone pops up with your idea and makes a bunch of money. It’s happened to me twice, and I don’t let it get me down. After all, I’m still quite young.
I’ve just come to this recent crossroads where I’m in my third year of college, and I’m desperate to start working on something interesting and bigger than myself while I have the time. My personality lends itself to leading these sorts of projects, so I guess the real question is, how do I find people who are willing to help me execute ideas?
The toughest part about that I’ve found, is that so many people in college are really more focused on their own studies, career, or future. The cost of college, the majority of which is being paid for by moms and dads, has really (in my opinion) stagnated a lot of the off-the-cuff on-a-whim ideas that ought to be pursued in the academic setting. I’ll probably coming off sounding like an asshole, but I have to be honest with you– I feel like the majority of people I talk to think innovation is impossible and while they may be brilliant, rarely have the capacity to throw caution to the wind and run with it. Where have all the young inventors gone?
Hell, just one more person with passion equal to mine and I’d have a company, but I’m telling you, I’ve had some pretty bad luck in finding people who believe their ideas are worth more than a semester of college, and that’s getting me down.
And finally, my response:
I agree with you on some points, but disagree on others. Bottom line is why not just build the skills for yourself to develop the ideas on your own?
Once something of yours takes off, you’ll find people flocking to you. People love riding the coattails of success. But trying to convince people without something is hard–and rightfully so. My friends and I get people trying to pitch us on “this great idea” all the time, but they’re rarely around 2 months later. That’s why building credibility is so important.
I love how excited he is about his idea. The next step, of course, is to take Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher’s words to heart:
“We have a ‘strategic’ plan. It’s called doing things.”
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