In the last two weeks, I’ve had a chance to re-evaluate my various pivots (and some less so, more like shifts) and I’ve come to the realization that a successful startup is an amalgamation of multiple different models:
* problem-solution model (what is the problem you’re looking to solve, and what solutions are possible to solve those problems? Don’t just hone in on the solution - what other solutions are there?)
* revenue model (how you are going to make money)
* WC model (which for an internet startup this should be an automatic positive - if not revise the idea!)
* branding model (what is the idea that will sell? - Paul Graham does a really good job in suggesting one framework to a successful startup at Startup School)
* operations model (how is the dang thing going to work process-wise. Who’s leading, who’s creating, who’s executing? And is there labor available to do so?)
* customer model (who is he/she, how big is the TAM, and any other relevant info)
* funding model (what is needed now, what is needed in 18 months, and who are you going to raise from ?)
Now there may be many more models to incorporate, but these are the most relevant ones I found during my last two weeks. The tricky part is the iterative process that research goes into - one moment you’re trying to answer the revenue model, the other you’re going back to the customer model, then another moment you’re going to the funding model. And that’s the dang trouble - you have to let this process take place and take time, because otherwise you won’t get any answers.
So here are my suggestions for solutions: Jack Huang from Executive Perks showed me a cool tool called Lean Canvas, which seeks to address in a systematic way some of the ambiguities of the process I outlined above. I think it’s done a fantastic job and I thoroughly recommend it.
But by far the best solution has been to talk to people about it. No, not your friend, not your mom, but experts in the startup space who know of various and existing ideas. Specifically - come up with a real problem, and talk to someone who knows possible solutions for it. If you talk to someone and all they can say is “yeah, pretty good idea” without offering real feedback on other solutions or don’t challenge your problem, that’s the wrong person!