The SaaS App Startup Journey
PHASE 1: Idea
I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur for many years prior to actually launching my first venture. I always felt that tug to do something – anything, but I didn’t know how to get started. I sat through a very inspiring startup presentation from a recent alum when I was a senior in college and I remember how it stirred my spirit to rush out and do something entrepreneurial, but I didn’t have any ideas. Later, as a corporate executive, I came up with some ideas, but I had no idea how to judge their potential success. Looking back, they were horrible ideas and I was really ill equipped to even evaluate their worthiness, let alone try to launch a startup with one of those poorly formulated ideas.
Now, after 30 years as a serial entrepreneur and prolific angel and VC investor, I find myself with the opposite problem: I have way more great ideas than I can ever pursue. The transition from not having any ideas, to having bad ideas, to having great ideas was due to a number of factors:
1) Pattern Recognition – After so many years, so many mistakes (I made a lot of them!), and so much experience, I’ve learned to look for patterns of what will work and what will not work.
2) Knowledge Base – As a MBA student at Harvard, I read and 1,800 case studies of real businesses wrestling with a real problem. And, as a prodigious reader since then, I usually read one full length book, as many as 25 or more book summaries, and consume hundreds of related business articles per week. I also currently review an average of 10 pitch decks per day and I actively judge for multiple pitch competitions. It’s safe to say that I’ve reviewed 50,000+ pitches and business plans over the past 30 years.
3) Advisory Experience – I’ve offered active consulting services to many, many startups, small businesses, and Fortune 500 companies across virtually all industries, first as a consultant with the prestigious Boston Consulting Group, and then on my own (I’ve always consulted as a “side gig”). I’ve also been an investment banker and worked with many clients to finance their startups, growth initiatives, turn-arounds, and exits. This diverse experience of working with clients of all sizes, stages, and industries gives me insight into cross-industry and cross-stage best practices.
Given all of that, my goal in this phase, is to equip you with as much of the wisdom that I’ve gained to help you avoid the mistakes I made and to insure your idea is rock solid and worthy enough for you to continue to invest your time and effort.
In this initial phase, it’s crucial to validate your idea(s) comprehensively. This process involves evaluating the resonance, potential, and alignment of your concept with your expertise and with a real market need.
Let’s get started!