Take a good look at his picture. You may not be familiar with him, but in the digital world he is an American hero. He could be the future Mayor of New York City. His name is Jack Dorsey. He is worth $1.3 billion. He co-founded Twitter and Square. He grew up in the Midwest and now lives in San Francisco.
Every day I get a call from someone seeking advice on how to successfully bring his or her brilliant product or service idea to market. I know they are calling me because I have been around innovation for 45 years. However, the truth is that the answer should be coming from them. People feel that just because they have a brilliant idea they get to sit back and let everyone else figure out how to make it a success.
Guess what? It doesn’t work that way. The venture capitalists and angel investors are not giving one dime to those who don’t have proof that there is a market for their idea and how they are going to make a profit from it.
Do yourself a favor. Watch Shark Tank on TV. Don’t tell me reality TV is fake. We’ve all heard that before and have our own opinions about the level of realism on these types of shows. That is not what I am talking about. I want you to listen carefully to the questions The Sharks ask:
1-What is the valuation of your company and how did you arrive at it?
2-What is your profit margin?
3-How many of these did you sell?
4-What is your cost for making these products?
5-How much of your company am I going to own and at what price?
6-Who is your competition?
7-How much of your own money did you invest?
8-What money do you live on?
9-Who is this product for?
10-How are you reaching that market?
The bonus question always is: What part of this idea is patented or trademarked and can you get ripped off?
These are the “tough to answer” questions you are going to get. If you can’t answer all of these, then go back to your day job and rethink your idea. I am not being mean for the sake of being mean. I want you to wake up to the real world. While you may have read that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Jack Dorsey of Twitter just came up with concepts and didn’t have any answers to the questions I just asked you, think again. There are Sharks questioning their every move, every day.
You have to know how to filter the stories Hollywood feeds you. Understand what is real and not. And you better be ready for the fight of your life if you call me or anyone else with your brilliant idea!