Got that Billion Dollar Idea? 7 Lessons Learned Outside the Classroom
We’ve all been there… the ‘Omg there should be an app for this’ moment. The glorifying moment the lightbulb goes off, and you imagine your idea becoming the next Facebook.
That moment happened basically a year ago today for the Blurr team. As we find ourselves on the verge of launch, we have compiled the 7 most valuable lessons we have learned thus far.
1) Stick With Your Vision
What is your vision? In one sentence, how do you sum up why you’re doing what you’re doing? Make this the backbone of your idea, product, and company. Any action taken should be directly in line with that vision. You will be inundated with inbound from friends, family, advisors, and investors giving you an opinion about how you should run your company. Take everything in, but be selective over which advice to take seriously; this is imperative to get from idea to launch. Be disciplined about making changes that are in line with your vision, and you’ll find yourself making consistent progress.
2) Validate, Validate and Validate Again
We found customer validation to be such a fuzzy subject. When validating, how does one honestly know if their idea is legit? Telling someone your idea and asking what they think is the single worst way to validate. It’s like planting a seed then asking whether it should grow or not. Naturally you will get mainly positive answers. Iterate your validation over and over by putting people in situations where your idea would be perfectly utilized and see how they react.
3) Sell What You Have, and Sell It Well.
Your business is primarily judged on what it is at this moment in time, not on what it could be. Get people excited and bring the FOMO to what you are now, not what you could be in 5 years. While explaining or showing your product/idea, don’t elaborate on the potential or desire for it to ‘improve’ or ‘add more features’. People will suggest gazillion ideas to you, when in truth they won’t know what they want until they’re an adopted user (and even then they’ll barely know). You built your MVP the way it is for a reason, now go and sell exactly that.
4) People Win Over Anything
Your team and the people you surround yourself with are the single most important factor when determining whether an idea will become a reality. They drive your vision, strategy, and above all make sh*t happen. Don’t think about ‘roles’, ‘skills’ or if ‘you need someone right now’. If they’re a rock star and someone who understands why you’re doing what you’re doing, do anything possible to get them involved. We found that out early having worked with some unbelievable people and are fully confident that our chances of winning have increased exponentially because of that.
5) Your Product is Not Simple Enough
We grabbed hold of the notion that we have to keep it simple from the start. We had a single problem that we wanted to solve, and created our product accordingly- or so we thought. One day, in the midst of technical crisis, we thought: What is the true value of Blurr? A user takes a picture through the app, and it automatically pops up on another users Blurr around them — it’s that simple. We quickly realized that we didn’t need 3/4 of our features to show this.
6) Celebrate EVERYTHING
There were times in the past year we thought we were looking down a very dark tunnel. We then we realized that we were thinking way too far ahead. Of course, always have a long-term vision in mind, but think of every completed objective as the light at the end of the tunnel. When you succeed, celebrate properly- over-exaggerate and rejoice. You will consequently create an aura of success around yourself. By creating this infectious buzz, you will draw a loyal customer base itching to get their hands on your product upon launch.
7) Be Shameless
Getting over the fact that no one will care about your idea or company for a very, very long time is kind of tough at first. Some just may care about the value you can bring to them (just think- do you really care about the company Uber? Or just what it does for you?) When you find those people, hang on to them, as they’re an early adopter in its finest form. As for the masses, they won’t give anything that’s new two looks unless it’s consistently shoved in their faces. That’s why being utterly shameless about asking everyone you know to promote everything and anything your company does isn’t embarrassing- it’s a crucial step to getting your company off the ground. Think the definition of guerrilla marketing, multiply it one-hundred times and do it daily. That gets people thinking, “What the f*ck is this thing I keep seeing on Facebook?” On the 4th, 5th, or maybe 6th occassion, they may just check you out.
This hasn’t even touched the surface of what we’ve learned in a life-changing year. It has been an incredible experience, and the most exciting part is that it’s only the beginning.
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