Do you really have a breakthrough idea?

As a mentor and as a business angel, I meet a lot of founders.  All of them are convinced to have a breakthrough idea and that they are going to generate a multimillion company, if not an unicorn that they will sell over 1 billion.  The reality is far less different.  In order to challenge them, I like to use 2 different check-lists.  The first one is described Josh Kaufman into his excellent book ‘[amazon_textlink asin=’1591845572′ text=’The Personal MBA’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’superpreneur3-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’be4cfb78-487c-11e7-a512-41674a09539c’]’

This first checklist is helpful in identifying the overall attractiveness of your project: urgency, market size, pricing potential, cost of customer acquisition, cost of value delivery, uniqueness of offer, speed to market, up-front investment, up-sell potential, and evergreen potential.

You have to rate each of the 10 factors below on a scale of 0 to 10, where zero is extremely unattractive and 10 is extremely attractive. When in doubt, be conservative in your estimate.  You may ask friends to help you so that you get a ‘neutral’ rating.

  1. Urgency — how badly do people want or need this right now? (Renting an old movie is typically low urgency; seeing a new picture on opening night is high urgency, since it only happens once.)
  2. Market Size — How many people are actively purchasing things like this? (The market for underwater basket weaving courses is very small; the market for cancer cures is massive.)
  3. Pricing Potential — what is the highest average price a purchaser would be willing to spend for a solution? (Lollipops sell for $0.05; aircraft carriers sell for billions.)
  4. Cost of Customer Acquisition — how easy is it to acquire a new customer? On average, how much will it cost to generate a sale, both in money and effort? (Restaurants built on interstate highways spend little to bring in new customers. Government contractors can spend millions landing procurement deals.)
  5. Cost of Value-Delivery — how much would it cost to create and deliver the value offered, both in money and effort? (Delivering files via the Internet is almost free; inventing a product and building a factory costs millions.)
  6. Uniqueness of Offer — how unique is your offer versus competing offerings in the market, and how easy is it for potential competitors to copy you? (There are many hair salons, but very few companies that offer private space travel.)
  7. Speed to Market — how quickly can you create something to sell? (You can offer to mow a neighbor’s lawn in minutes; opening a bank can take years.)
  8. Up-Front Investment — how much will you have to invest before you’re ready to sell? (To be a housekeeper, all you need is a set of inexpensive cleaning products. To mine for gold, you need millions to purchase land and excavating equipment.)
  9. Up-Sell Potential — are there related secondary offers that you could also present to purchasing customers? (Customers who purchase razors need shaving cream and extra blades as well; buy a Frisbee, and you won’t need another unless you lose it.)
  10. Evergreen Potential — once the initial offer has been created, how much additional work will you have to put into it in order to continue selling? (Business consulting requires ongoing work to get paid; a book can be produced once, then sold over and over as-is.)

When you’re done with your assessment, add up the score. If the score is 50 or below, this is not good and perhaps you should consider to skip and work on another project. If the score is 75 or above, your idea is then very promising — you can go full speed ahead. Anything between 50 and 75 has the potential to pay the bills, but won’t be a home run without a huge investment of energy and resources, so you will need to plan accordingly.

The second check-list is due to Peter Thiel in his best-seller book ‘[amazon_textlink asin=’0804139296′ text=’Zero to One’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’superpreneur3-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’9851d0bf-487d-11e7-9d61-d56147506b48′]’

1. The Engineering Question
Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvements?
2. The Timing Question
Is now the right time to start your particular business?
3. The Monopoly Question
Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
4. The People Question
Do you have the right team?
5. The Distribution Question
Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
6. The Durability Question
Will your market position be defensible 10 or 20 years into the future?
7. The Secret Question
Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don’t see?
If you answer seriously and honestly to both check-lists, I can guarantee you that you will avoid any waste of time starting a project around an idea which is not really a breakthrough one.   Why to work on a breakthrough idea?  Because in the age of acceleration, being a superpreneur is a must.  Everything goes too fast, and there is too much disorder.  Being average shall not solve the biggest problems the world is facing.  Superpreneurs want to make an impact and they have a MTP, a Massive Transformative Purpose.  You can read more about this into [amazon_textlink asin=’1626814236′ text=’Exponential Organizations’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’superpreneur3-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’a5dd6b0b-487e-11e7-990d-697f9cb540a1′].
A final note: don’t be disappointed if you fail in one or both tests, and if you have to stop the project of your life.  Perhaps you can pivot and by changing the market, the business model or using exponential technologies, still make it happen, but then make it really breakthrough!

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