You’re a proud parent of a new gorgeous startup baby girl. She’s beautiful, she’s brilliant (compared to the other babies in the Hospital Nursery). That’s it, you’ve won! You’ve worked for 2 to 3 months to get pregnant. You made sure you ate the right foods, you learned how to breath in Lamaze class. You’ve done it. It’s done. Congratulations! All your hard work has paid off…. unless you count the next 25 years of navigating the rocky shoals of infancy, toddlerhood, adolescence, high school, college, and career.
I run into multiple technical founders, and engineers, who claim to have valuable IP. They may be PhDs, they may have patents, they may have superior IQs, but what they don’t have is a realistic idea of what it takes to get their newborns, and in some cases, newly conceived unborn babies safely to adulthood.
Yet they value their ideas through the lens of la la land unicorns. Believing the value of their totally dependent fetuses should be comparable to the through-the-roof valuations garnered by companies like ChatGPT and Stripe. Many technology founders with no prior business experience believe their ideas should be valued at $20M – 50M. Yes, $50 million for an idea that has yet to be prototyped. Yup, $30M for an idea that only exists on a PowerPoint and a patent application.
These engineers place little to no value on taking an idea to market. They don’t see the value in strategy, execution, or customer acquisition. These engineers are used to being the smartest person in the room… when it comes to numbers… when it comes to ones and zeros, when it comes to using a slide rule (or whatever the hell you kids use today). They are experts in the head and neophytes in the heart. When it comes to EQ, empathy, building a multi-faceted, multidisciplinary team, competitive positioning, leadership, generating buzz, selling, going to market, building a company around the idea, they’re clueless.
An idea is just an idea. Everyone has them just like everyone has a hiney. Most ideas are as valuable as hiney byproducts. A patent is just an idea protected by the government. An idea is not a company. An idea is not a startup. If you can’t build that idea, sell it, deliver it, support it… your idea might as well be a newborn baby in the wildernes with no one to feed it, protect it, and change its diapers. It takes an incredible amount of work, capital, support, and luck to get a baby from birth to CEO of Apple or Supreme Court Justice (which used to be an honor), or Congress Person (although most parents today consider getting elected to congress a failure).
Putting too much value on the idea and not realizing the value in the work required to build the next Apple is why your baby’s not going to make it. It’s why you’re not going to be able to build a team, It’s why your startup will never be anything more than a startup idea.
Your idea has a shelf life, and finding the right sucker of a CEO two years from now doesn’t mean you were a shrewd negotiator. It means you found a dumb CEO for your depreciating asset. You need a business partner today
Lastly remember, when recruiting a team and investors, you only have this one baby. All your eggs are in this one basket. You’re committed. But to the people you’re recruiting, you’re idea is just a bus. One of many buses. If they miss this one… there’ll be another one by in 15 minutes. So go ahead and be unreasonable.. reasonable people will wait for the next bus.
Want to learn more if your idea has merit or if it should be placed in a basket and set adrift in a river? Go through a disciplined discovery process, I work with Ph.D. inventors from universities that include, The University of Maryland, Carnegie Melon, Penn State, University of Pennsylvania, Johns Hopkins, Howard University, George Washington, Virginia Tech, Hampton University, University of North Carolina, and NC State to teach them the process of customer discovery. The outcome… do I have product market fit.
If you’re looking to determine the customer market fit of your idea, let’s have a talk. You can schedule a meeting below and we’ll discuss it.