How to get to the right idea?
Ideas are what depicts our real world, but what is the right one? What is the idea which can entirely change your life for better or define your life success? Does such an idea really exist?
We talked on this topic with Alex Čović, the resident mentor who closely cooperates with teams gathered in ICT Hub. Alex started his entrepreneurship career in Estonia and continued it as a co-owner of the first domestic platform for contextual announcing on the Internet. He counselled some of the most successful regional and local IT companies. He is one of the organizers of the biggest festival of technological entrepreneurship in the Southeast Europe, the mentor of the most active regional investment fund, as well as a creator of the program of the first startup school in Serbia.
Who decides if an idea is the right one?
Alex: We already know that people get into the startup story with any ideas and most of the ideas are very bad from the very beginning. Every idea becomes good through work, i.e. through facing reality or the owner. That is exactly what needs to be the focus from the very beginning. The user is the person you are making the product for, that is the person who, at the end of the day, decides whether your product has quality and whether they would take their time or assets to contribute to the realization of the very idea. Therefore, the entrepreneur is asked the least. Successful businesses are not the ones that do exactly what their owner wants them to do, but those who do what their users need. The biggest problem is that the owners are too fond of their idea and they refuse talking to their ultimate users. That is, actually, another reason why there is a bunch of startups which have its founding and that are experienced, but they still do not have their product or users. I somehow contribute it to the fear of failure. People avoid facing their suppositions with reality.
How to get to the right idea?
Alex: In practice, there is no right or good idea. There is something you can realize with the resources and knowledge you have. That is the point. I can have an idea that presupposes cheap flights to Mars, which in fact is a good idea, but I cannot realize that. That can be realized by Elon Musk. What is a good idea for me? That is something I have knowledge, resources, partners, ultimate users for and other parts of a successful business. Therefore, the point of the whole introductory workshop “Idea generation” I work on with ICT Hub members is to make people think from their own experience, their contacts, and their community. This way they come to a conclusion whether a realization is plausible at all, whether they recognized the existing problem, as well as whether they can make a solution good enough to satisfy the needs of a target user. Yes, the user should be no 1, but you are the one who should realize it.
What after generating an idea?
Alex: You should absolutely talk to everybody about your idea. That is the first thing that everybody gets wrong. That picture has started changing slowly, and I am very glad about that. Nobody will steal your idea. Ideas are very cheap. We have no time, knowledge or resources to make them. Out of a conversation with many entrepreneurs, only positive things can happen when you expose your idea to critics and other people’s opinion.
Second thing, everybody needs a mentor, if possible, especially beginners; somebody who has gone through all those steps which people with their first startup are yet to go through. That is extremely useful. I have been an entrepreneur for 10 years and now I have more mentors than ever. That is great because there is always somebody who knows more than you do or has a piece of information that can change your situation for better.
Third, once you define who your user is, i.e. who your target group is, you should go and talk directly to them. They are the ones who should be asked what their problems are. That is the best way to make what people really need.
Through experience in working with the young, we know they are usually not aware in which phase the startup is. Most of them typically want to come to the investment, as fast as possible. The overlook in the whole story is the fact that most startups do not need the investment from the very beginning, but defining the target group, contacts, meetings with people who would buy or use their product, fulfilling the wholw picture of what their product really is, how they will best communicate it and present it to people. Alex advises that Business model canvas be one of the best tools to define what your startup actually needs in a specific moment.
“Unfortunately, I have seen many startups that got the investment and nothing wise was done with them because they focused on some other things than realization. So, the investment should not be its own aim. Startups in the early phase should do only two things, and that is talking to users and coding.”
Alex: People usually mix meanings of startup, more precisely thwy forget the full name is a Startup company. So, it is not an organization for collecting investments and pitching, but rather a company that should make money. You earn money by finding a user and selling them something that they need. To do that you need to know what he needs and to make it. If you concentrate on those things, you are on the right way to realize your idea and turn it into the right one.
The main advice I would like to share with people is to begin and not to stay long thinking about an idea, but find somebody who can help them in the realization itself. You can come to Hub, talk to somebody from the team, hear their opinion and get on realization as soon as possible. While the idea is only in the mind of the founder, it is quite imaginary; it needs to become a real plan with precise steps of realization to have some sense. Bring your idea to the world, talk to people and test your idea on market.
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