In college I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I could tell that’s what I’d end up doing. The only problem was, I didn’t know what type of business I would start. I had a friend who had a successful Ebay business and I would always try and brainstorm things I could sell on Ebay too. But I never could come up with anything. I finally told myself to stop trying so hard and let the idea come to me.
Years passed and I dabbled with different retail product ideas. There was the overnight socks and underwear delivery company, the female Thai sandals I wanted to import, and the proverbial tee-shirt company. All failed to get off the ground for one reason or another. It was disappointing, but I just kept moving forward.
In 2009 I knew I wanted to create a software company. But I didn’t know how to code and I had no money to pay a developer. So I started a services company. I figured that would teach me to run a business, I could gain the trust of people, and make a little money to build a software product…whatever that may be.
In 2010 I started my first company, a digital agency called Demeter Interactive. We did content, social, and digital strategy for clients. One thing that our clients continuously wanted was an editorial calendar. The ability to see what type of content we were going to post was comforting to our clients. So my partner at the time would create these beautiful editorial calendars in PDF form. Clients loved them, but they were a pain the ass to make.
This planted the seed for Prepare.io. I wanted to figure out a way to build an easy little tool online for an editorial calendar. I talked to different developers on what the cost would be. At this time, I wasn’t thinking about a stand alone product. I was just thinking about a tool that I could use for clients. I distinctly remember one developer saying he thought it would only cost about $1500 to get a working version out. That’s a budget I could deal with. Too bad it was 100% wrong.
I brought the idea to another developer I knew for another rough quote. He explained to me the difference between a tool and a product. A tool would cost around $6,000 and its architecture would be built so that it could only handle my small client list. A product would cost $25,000 or more, but it could handle the capacity for thousands of users. It was at this moment when I actually understood the difference between a tool and a product and realized that I could create an entire company from this editorial calendar idea.
I had been searching for a product idea since I was a junior in college. Yet, I didn’t realize that for months I actually had a product idea. Embarrassing isn’t it? But that’s really when I started to pursue the idea that would become Prepare.io.
The moral of this story is that there is always a problem to solve. You have to make sure you’re looking in the right direction. I had a product idea, right under my nose, but I failed to realize this right away. If you’re in search of a business idea, I bet there is a problem you deal with on a reoccuring basis you’re overlooking.
Next time on Building the Dream, I’ll delve into the story of how I made my MVP a reality and the lessons I learned from it.