If you attended this year's Entrepreneurship Summit, put on by App State’s Center for Entrepreneurship, you were able to experience something pretty great. The fact that Appalachian state can put on a conference of that quality and attendance (over 300+ attendees) is a testament to the excitement and momentum behind the the High Country’s Entrepreneurial ecosystem.
This year’s keynote was delivered by a good friend, Chris Heivly. His talk was incredibly interesting and I hope people came away as motivated as I did - and ready to Build The Fort. [Chris likens the idea of building a company to building a fort. They share many characteristics and it can be useful to think of building your company in this way. I'd encourage you to read the book.] One thing stuck out to me in particular, and that was the notion of sharing your startup idea with others. It reminded me of an older, humorous, but TRUE article - Why Nobody Will Steal Your Shitty Start-up Idea. As funny as that article is, it's right and Chris is right - you've got to share your ideas - get them out there, get feedback, adjust them and build the thing.
At Startup High Country, we talk with so many people who have great ideas, and we consistently encounter the same questions and fears in these entrepreneurs. More often than not, entrepreneurs are afraid to share their ideas with others, not necessarily because they are worried about being judged in a negative light, but because they are worried about someone else stealing their idea and running with it. They start talking NDAs, patents and trademarks, oftentimes way too early. All of those things are important and have their place (and time), but in the infancy of a startup idea, they just don’t belong. What really matters isn't just the idea, but rather understanding the market for it and you and your team's ability to execute it. This is why investors will not sign an NDA before hearing your pitch and why you shouldn’t even ask for that. Focus your efforts on how you're going to out execute your competition.
It’s much more important for you to share your idea with as many people as you can. This will allow you to mold your idea, find out what parts of it are interesting to people, whether or not they would pay you for it and ultimately if there is actual potential for a product. Chris recommended sharing your idea with at least 50 people and by the time you get to that fiftieth person, you’re going to have the pitch nailed down, more ideas about the product and a more fleshed-out concept.
So start small and easy - share your idea(s) with your family and friends; then move on to complete strangers. Reflect on those conversations, then lather, rinse and repeat! We, Startup High Country, are always willing to hear your ideas and give you feedback on them. It’s one of the things we love most about working with entrepreneurs.
What are you waiting for?