CEO Sunday: Ideas Are Free

By November 20, 2011

I was in my office today, engulfed by the excitement of a new company launch and the incredible stress endured over the last 12 months getting to this point. Building a startup is brutal process, experiencing the ups from excited investors and letdowns because I am a single founder. Too often, the intense entrepreneurial burning to build great ideas gets lost in the underbelly of a pursuit to raise money. Most of us are turned away in a blanket denial, but being an entrepreneur is like accepting the challenge of a 1000 grand chess masters to a single game. There are no rules and no single path to accomplish a victory. This is the great fascination of being an entrepreneur. Your success is directly predicated on your willingness to endure the immense struggles and overcome them.

The technology culture of today is built on whether you are selected to join the highly publicized incubators, how much money you have raised and this ridiculous notion that failing early and often is all part of the game. Building a great company doesn’t rely or depend on those ideologies. Being included in those groups can facilitate opportunities, but you should never leave your vision and dreams in the hands of people who openly admit they are terrible at picking winners. So let me take you, for a moment, away from the tech blog world of slogans, trends and nonsense that clouds your abilities, and focus on two principles.

In my opinion, the greatest influencing factor for a successful technology company is user experience and this is the reason I hate the launch early, fail early, fail often mantra. Build something beautiful, unique and make it intuitive. As a startup, it is hard enough to acquire users once, so make sure when they find your site or app, they have a reason to stay a while. Focus on spatial architecture designed to capture user attention. A great product is as equally dependent on its function as it is how you feel about it. Declutter your space and focus on the user, create a sense personal ownership.

Without ideas there can be no execution. Your ideas drive how you solve problems and ultimately how you accomplish goals. Building a company is not about the product, but rather the management of that product. In many ways it is your entrepreneurial duty to deviate from traditional points of view and find solutions crafted around the needs of your organization. How you view your industry and knowledge of your competition are directly related to the ideas baked into the services you provide. Execution is how you present those ideas, however, without ideas that solve problems you are merely imitating competitors. Build an intuitive product that simplifies options and generates powerful functionality. The easier a service integrates into a prospective client’s need, the larger your prospective client base becomes.

One thing I have learned in my 12 years of being an entrepreneur is that there are no dreams too big. Find something you are passionate about, learn it inside and out, then get to work. Ideas are free, experiments are free and knowledge is free. Taking the time to create something you feel confident about is far more valuable than money or the size of your team in the beginning. Create something beautiful and make the money chase you.