During my time at Babson, I have come across a number of bright individuals who have great ideas for creating impactful organizations. However, for the most part, these remain great ideas and not much comes out of it. There is that certain process of deliberation and mumbling to oneself at the edge of the pool that even I couldn’t get past for so long. I’m writing today to show how and why that must be avoided.
DISCLAIMER: I haven’t read Len’s book, although I have been meaning to do so for a while now. I took the name in stride, though. ‘Just Start’ sounds about the right thing to do.

  • The playground: Bear with me while I get my point across using this analogy. Say you have an idea for solving a problem in the edtech space. Traditionally, you will hear things like ‘Do an industry analysis’ or ‘What is the addressable market size?’ and so on. While these are important questions at some point, you don’t need to dive into anything intense like that for a while.Think of the entire edtech space as a playground, and yourself as the new kid who wants to dominate and be the popular one. You want to know who the other kids are, where they came from and what they do best. You want to identify the big kids so you don’t step on their toes (yet) and you want to find a relatively empty spot where you can safely hatch your plans of conquest.
    Such should be the approach to doing something with your idea. One way that has proven itself to me is to reach out to as many people possible from within the playground (or beyond). You don’t know what you don’t know yet, and the only way you will know that is by asking. Going back to the edtech example I would try and reach out to students, teachers, district boards, companies involved, tutors, service providers and any other stakeholders you will find on the way – anything that will help give you a clear picture of the playground you’re about to enter.
  •  Get word out: Put it out there that you are working on idea X. Speak with friends and family, get feedback from experienced individuals and so on. when people get a sense of what you’re working on, they keep you on their mind and will usually connect you with leads when they can. This is usually a step forward – in my experience of working on my idea for about 3-4 months, I got randomly connected with helpful entrepreneurs, a couple investors, some customers and even a loony student who thought I stole his idea. About the fear of ‘idea theft’ – don’t have any. Even if you have a miraculous cure for cancer, chances are that the motivation for somebody to pursue just an idea and get into it full time is just about nothing. Even if they do, they’ll probably do it a lot differently.A few methods I have found effective for getting initial feedback are landing pages (unbounce.com, launchrock.com), twitter and facebook (or whatever else it is that your playground uses more), word of mouth, cold calling, blogging and so on. Be bold, and be persistent about getting constructive feedback. You can even shamelessly plug your pages where possible.

    HAVE YOU SEEN http://signup.borednomore.us/ ??

    Also, Babson. Babson has proven to be an amazing resource. As a student, I have been able to approach many companies and executives who I would otherwise have a tough time getting in touch with. The professors and the great folks at the accelerator have also helped me make some awesome connections. Be sure to use the Babson brand to it’s fullest.

To be continued…