Not all great ideas become great products, and not all great products lead to great businesses. Many fail because of an inability to montetize the ideas.
Anyone remember Alta Vista?
At one point they dominated the internet, but the challenge was no one could figure out how to make a business out of web searching which led to the companies demise.
Few people have both technical skills and entrepreneurial skills needed to be successful. Without the necessary entrepreneurial input, many great ideas will go the way of Alta Vista.
Here are 35 Tips from Science To Start Up author and World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer Anil Sethi, that will help any Entrepreneur working with a Tech Start-Up avoid many of the common pitfalls that lead to failure or prevent successful monetization.
- Never ignore your own problems to which a simple solution does not exist. If you would pay for a solution, so would other people.
- Never let anyone tell you that you're too young to come up with a great idea. The best response when someone doubts you is "Watch me."
- If you only connect the dots with the number on them, you'll never build a new picture.
- Get back to the drawing board if you can't describe the idea in 10 seconds!
- Evaluate technologies dispassionately before you get involved. Avoid falling in love with the idea of falling in love.
- When developing an idea, understand the behavior of the focus customer segment. It's easy to assume wrong and just as easy to fail.
- Up close, rocket science is about really small, simple steps and a serious amount of patience.
- The value of the idea is only as good as the capability of the team to execute it.
- Keep in mind that investors' money will not make you rich. Only delivering on your promises will.
- Remember that being the standard matters more than technical excellence in capturing and monetizing value. The tech co-founders will never understand, and that's okay.
- Customers don't pay for the world record--they pay for a solution that either saves them money, makes them money or makes their lives better.
- Be aware of the long-term impact of short-term benefits; it's a long winding road to commercialization.
- There is a huge chasm between emerging technologies and mature ones. Not recognizing this spells the difference between success and bust.
- Tick the "stupid" things first; incorporation, equity, defining roles and responsibilities and authority will enable you to focus on the core task of making it happen.
- The market will frequently put a higher perceived value on the solution than what the technology people imagine, but this will only be known once you get there.
- Don't assume that the tech team has all the answers simply because they are the best in what they do. Your vision may be the only right one, simply because you have one.
- Entrepreneurship shifts your perception... and perception is everything.
- Being an entrepreneur is about the art of the possible. Scientists only understand the science of reality. Don't ever assume the technical team members will understand.
- However bright your team, listen to your gut and never lose your nerve. Never forget, they are scientists and are clueless about what makes the world of commerce tick.
- Be aware of priorities of co-founders who continue to work at the research institution. Know that their first love is research--the company is but a dalliance.
- Even with a breakthrough technology, let no one convince you that it will be easy. The most challenging task is tuning the scientists' mindset to the company's future success.
- There is such a thing as too much rocket science. When you're being enamored by what the technology is, ask what it can do and how soon it can do it for real people.
- When communicating, keep it simple. People hear what they want to hear--depending on motivation and relevance.
- Never underestimate the challenges in getting the technology co-founders to agree to anything en route to commercialization.
- Identify team-related issues early and work on resolving them. They won't go away. It's ego--not lack of funding--that's the primary cause for startup implosion.
- It's never too late to get lawyers' advice to make the patent strategy water-tight, in the same way, that it's never too late to start something new.
- A startup is like a marriage--if the team does not get along, in the beginning, things are unlikely to improve after the kids, the mortgage and dirty dishes hit the fan.
- Targeting the right investors is as important as avoiding the wrong ones.
- Once you get funding, focus on delivering. Change the "can be done cheaper in-house" research mindset to "get it done fast and professionally" commercial mindset.
- The devil is really in the details. Since you get but one chance with each investor, make it count.
- Don't assume you're smarter than investors. In particular, don't assume that you can get away by having a bigger ego than them.
- When investors ask for all the info that you can provide, they may only be building market intelligence to invest in your competition.
- Never let someone else's advice supersede your conviction, particularly if he's not been there.
- Trust is fine so long as you have a big stick provided by your lawyers to back you up.
- Never underestimate the risk when techies lead. There's a good reason you're there.