For God’s sake, do everyone a favour. PLEASE DO NOT start up.

I had a very frustrating conversation today. I met a relative who wanted advice on starting up.

Let this be the first and the last time I give advice for free.

This person did his MBA from a decent American university, worked at a globally renowned marketing research firm, worked at a startup, and has recently moved jobs.

And now, the entrepreneurial itch has bitten him. Barely within a few months of joining his job, he is thinking about quitting and starting up.

Relative: I’ve thought a lot about this idea. I’ve read a lot about the industry. I’ve figured out the problem I want to solve for the foodtech industry.

Me: Awesome. What are your target customers saying and what are their preferences?

Relative: Oh. I’ve only spoken to a few family members.

Me: Uhhhhh……. Okay, have you bothered finding out whether restaurants or consumers will find value in this app?

Relative: No.

Me: You’ve previously worked in the world’s best marketing research firm. Surely, you’ve figured out the requirements for your foodtech app. Shouldn’t you create a survey with 5–6 questions and run it by 100 potential customers and 100 restaurants to figure out what the real problem is and how you’re solving it?

Relative: Okay, cool. I’ll do the research. I have a whole bunch of other questions as well. What is the process of finding a co-founder? How do I raise funding, what is the right amount? How much equity should I dilute?

Me: Aren’t you asking the wrong questions? Shouldn’t you be trying to figure out whether your idea is valid in the first place?

Relative: So I’m willing to burn 10–15 lakhs, and just try and see if this app works. And if things don’t work out, I’ll go back to my job. I won’t really have lost anything.

Me: Do you know anything about the foodtech industry?

Relative: No. But does industry experience really matter? I previously used to work in a travel startup where the founders were a bunch of engineers and didn’t have any experience in the travel industry.

Me: **Stares with mouth open… (Wow! What a justification!)**

Relative: Can I raise seed funding just for my idea, even though I don’t have proof of concept?

Me: Why don’t you go burn 10–15 lakhs of your own money before you burn someone else’s money?

Relative: Hahaha… Yeah… Investor pressure… Have heard a lot about it. Great! You’ve given me a lot to think about. I’ll come back to you with more questions.

Me: **Silently going WTF and doing an imaginary facepalm.**

Moral of the story: Please don’t start up for the heck of it! And, pay me the next time you want my advice.