I used to dismiss crazy startup ideas outright. Now my colleagues and I brag about the bat-bleep insane ideas we haven't gotten to yet.

When I was a younger entrepreneur, before my first exit and even before the bone-crushing impact of my very first failure, all I wanted to do was bring sensible ideas to a well-heeled and hungry market.

Until I learned -- the hard way -- what stagnation was.

Your Idea Should Be "Disruptive"

About 20 years ago, an investor shot down an idea of mine that I was not only super-excited about, but one that had already begun generating both customer and investor interest. Just not his interest.

His problem with my amazing idea: "It's not crazy enough," he said. "You'll probably be successful with it and make some good money with it, maybe great money. But it's just not big enough or disruptive enough for me to want to play."

I immediately hated him. In fact, that moment is where my distaste for the term "disruptive" got its start. And just to show him how wrong he was, I went into overdrive on the idea the very next day. I built a company that was immediately successful, profitable, award-winning, and made me great money. No investors allowed.

Intrepid Media was the first social network for writers and, in fact, one of the first social networks before there was such a thing as social networks (circa 1999). But it didn't turn customers into product like Facebook. It scoffed at the textual limits of Twitter. It rested on the laurels of quality over commercialism.

Those laurels won out. After a solid 12-year run, Intrepid Media had just sort of flatlined. It went from making me great money to good money to "meh" money. I shut it down when I hopped into a venture to teach computers how to write stories from data.

Oh, for the record, that investor and I became good friends and remain friends to this day.

Crazy is the Lifeblood of Startup

Let's take a trip back to the mid-2000s. At its inception, the idea of building a mass-market computer with a better form factor and more user-centric use cases was, literally, laughable. But turn that form factor into "pocket-sized" and make those use cases "runs your life you," and you have the iPhone.

It's not hard to find a pattern. Selling only products of a certain value and size without a physical store? Ludicrous in 1994. Amazon. Getting paid for picking up someone on your way to work? Ridiculous in 2009. Lyft.

Teaching computers how to write news stories?

In 2010, while still learning the long and painful lesson of stagnation with Intrepid Media, I started writing algorithms to convert data to human-sounding narrative for a pre-seed startup that eventually became Automated Insights.

We didn't know it at the time, but we were building the first Natural Language Generation engine -- before there was such a thing as Natural Language Generation. I didn't care about the craziness of the idea, in fact, I was probably overcompensating for the lack of crazy in all my previous startups.

Within five years, we had raised over $11 million and then sold to a private equity firm for much, much more than that.

Lesson learned. That's where crazy can take you.

Slow and Steady Wins The Race?

An entrepreneur asked me this week how to get a crazy idea out of his head. Or -- if it was at all possible -- how to work the idea until it was just crazy enough to devote real time and resources to it.

I went with the latter, and outlined all my methods for turning crazy ideas into crazy ventures, because I still have crazy ideas. The idea that I can make entrepreneurs better entrepreneurs for the low price of just $10 a month sounds like something a 1980s electronics store pitchman might shout during a late-night commercial. And if anyone asks me what I do for my day job, I tell them I wash cars.

Here's what I think the problem is: Slow and steady isn't wrong. In fact, the vast majority of entrepreneurs are the slow and steady type. They are successful, but invisible. They reached that level of success by bringing sensible ideas to a well-heeled and hungry market. I've done this several time, but I still have to make my own noise to get noticed.

Slow and steady will never get you into trouble, not the kind of trouble that Theranos or WeWork "stumbled" into. They're making another movie about Elizabeth Holmes. It looks horrible. Meanwhile, most people won't even admit to a crazy idea for fear of being laughed at.

But there's a sweet spot in the middle, and I can evangelize on that all day. There is a place where good crazy, good ethics, and good business sense meet. Most of us entrepreneurs are racing to that place, and those of us who already subscribe to good ethics and good business sense need to take our craziest shots.

Because who knows what the 20-year idea for the next iPhone looks like today? It's gonna take someone sticking with crazy until crazy becomes normal to make it happen.