Starting the Start-up: The Initial Idea

While talking among friends or waking in the middle of the night, you might hit upon a really unique start-up idea. Then you start doing research – you google it, search Amazon and eBay, and start thinking the idea through.  You quickly discover that others have similar interests or concepts as yours.  Its rare to find a truly unique idea.  But don’t give up!  Sometimes your idea will become valuable because your success might be more about a unique implementation or the way you bring it to market.  Think back to the early days of Facebook, which had ConnectU as a competitor.  Facebook out-executed ConnectU where both were pursuing similar social networking concepts and was an extension of what Harvard University was already providing in terms of face book pages for students.

Realize too that virtually 100% of all successful start-ups evolved and pivoted from their early original idea.  Working your idea will tell you what works and more importantly what doesn’t work.  The old adage of that the “only constant in life is change” is mostly true.  It about trying and learning from both your successes and failures.

Again, thinking of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg first started “Facemash” at Harvard.  Facemash was similar in concept to the site “Hot or Not”.  When Mark was then threatened by the university because of the way he want about getting the student images, he evolved his concept into what then became “TheFaceBook”.

Start with a cool idea you are passionate about.  Research it.  Test it out.  Learn.  Learn. And, then learn some more.  Then be prepared to adjust and change.  Its this constant state of evolving your original idea that will lead to what will enable you to build a successful business.

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Silicon Valley vs. Elsewhere

When it comes to start-up businesses, many people I know that live outside of Silicon Valley believe their region is hands-down a better environment than the San Francisco Bay area – this comes from people I know in NYC, Colorado, Texas, Vancouver, Seattle, and elsewhere.  They claim there is less regulation, less taxes, a stronger employment base, cheaper employee costs, etc.

All these areas have an entrepreneurial base and access to investors.  Yet, Silicon Valley (which now runs from San Francisco to San Jose) still outpaces any other region.  What makes this area so different?  Is it the water?  Is it the weather?  Is it the people?

Its an environment that has unparalleled access to intellectual capital that is rooted in very decentralized organizations.  It supports a system of rapid changes, e.g. “fail quickly”, and the investment structure to do so.  One common phrase, attributed to Sun Microsystems past-CEO, Scott McNeal, that gets to the essence of Silicon Valley:  “Eat lunch or be lunch.”

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