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GIST (Great Ideas for Starting Things)
It’s much easier to do things right from the start than to fix them later. At this stage, you are forming the DNA of your startup, and this genetic code is permanent. By paying attention to a few essential issues, you can build the proper foundation and free yourself to concentrate on the significant challenges. This chapter explains how to start a startup.
Answer Simple Questions
There is a myth that successful companies begin with grandiose ambitions. The implication is that entrepreneurs should start with megalomaniacal goals to succeed. On the contrary, our observation is that great companies began by asking simple questions:
• THEREFORE, WHAT? * This question arises when you spot or predict a trend and wonder about its consequences. It works like this: “Everyone will have a smartphone with a camera and Internet access.” Therefore, what? “They will be able to take pictures and share them.” Therefore, what? “We should create an app that lets people upload their photos, rate the photos of others, and post comments.” And, voila, there’s Instagram.
• ISN’T THIS INTERESTING? Intellectual curiosity and accidental discovery power this method/ Spencer Silver was trying to glue but created a substance that barely holds paper together. This oddity led to Post-it-Notes. Ray Kroc was an appliance salesman who noticed that a small restaurant in the middle of nowhere ordered eight mixers. He visited the restaurant out of curiosity, and it impressed him with its success. He pitched the idea of similar restaurants to Dick and Mac McDonald, and the rest is history.
• IS THERE A BETTER WAY? Frustration with the current state of the art is the hallmark of this path. Ferdinand Porsche once said, “In the beginning, I looked around and, not finding the automobile of my dreams, decided to build it myself.” * Steve Wozniak built the Apple because he believed there was a better way to access computers than working for the government, a university, or a large company. Larry Page and Sergey Brin thought measuring inbound links was a better way to prioritize search results and started Google.
• WHY DOESN’T OUR COMPANY DO THIS? Frustration with your current employer is the catalyzing force in this case. You’re familiar with the customers in a market and their needs. You tell your management that the company should create a product because customers need it, but management doesn’t listen. Finally, you give up and do it yourself.
IT’S POSSIBLE, SO WHY DON’T WE MAKE IT? Markets for significant innovations are seldom proven in advance, so a what-the-hell attitude characterizes this path. For example, back in the 1970s, the portable phone was incomprehensible to most people when Motorola invented it. At the time, phones were linked to places, not people. However, Martin Cooper and the engineers at Motorola went ahead and made it, and the rest is history. Don’t let anyone tell you that the “If we build it, they will come” theory doesn’t work.
“The genesis of great companies is answering simple questions that change the world, not the desire to become rich.”
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