So, I got my first feedback from "tech" experts on my idea albeit the information was relayed through a friend. The message was basically twofold:
1) Amazon, Postmates, and Uber are already doing local shopping online. The competition is there already.
Let me just say, this is not what I found disheartening as I don't believe that anybody is taking the approach that we want to take. We have a differentiated idea. I also think the competition is good because I have learned a lot in all my competition research which has helped me hone my idea.
2) What I did find very distressing is that the feedback on the technology to do what I want to do would take millions of dollars and many years. And Amazon has done it anyway so why do it again? UGH.
3) Also, finding a company name, domain name, and name that can be trademarked is hugely frustrating and I have run into that wall this week.
I am reaching out to people that I know in my network to get other tech input but my network of tech people is rather small... I am also networking madly to find that tech founder who can have passion for this idea and lead the way to bring it to life.
In the mean time, I was just looking for some moral support... Help me buck up and keep going. Anybody up for giving a down-hearted a little boost? Maybe a little laugh? I bet at least one of you have been down this path...
You're experiencing what just about every entrepreneur does. We hear often that our industry is to complex to understand so investors are unwilling to invest in it, yet it's a industry that is so broken the bar is pretty low - we can easily make an impact.
All the feedback you get is just "data". Might be right, might be off. It's up to you to find the nugget in that advice to help you refine your idea. The best thing you can do right now is vet your idea with customers - could you run a survey to find out if people are really using those platforms to shop local?
And, if it makes you feel better, we have been looking for a new company/domain name for months!
Whoever your technologists are sound like they are short sighted. MAYBE it'll take millions to fulfill the final vision, but any technologist should be advising how to prove the concept much more cheaply and that's one of the early technical goals. Talk to other techies and you'll get better feedback I am sure.
Hi All! You are all great. The feedback has been ever so helpful. An update: As mentioned, I felt like I got kicked in the stomach on Friday with that input from 2 tech experts.
But, as I was feeling down, I reached out to you all for an e-hug and advice. Importantly, I also started to "double down" (a very popular term these days) on finding that tech co-founder and/or to start seriously reaching out to techs for input that I can work with! To be honest, I had been holding back because I was waiting for this initial input. That input motivated me to get really really really serious.
Today, I met with someone who was so bright, passionate, warm, thoughtful, critical and probing, insightful, process-oriented, validation-centric, start small and test and learn, prototypes, etc. etc. Everything you guys have said. It was, in short, an amazing meeting - the likes of which I never even thought possible.
It looks like we are going to try to work together to see if we can make this idea come to life. We will start on a small project for some early validation... if that goes somewhere and we find we like working with each other, then we will go to the next steps that lead to a more long-term business relationship.
Let me know if you want me to keep you updated on this story... I think I am liking this entrepreneurship thing! LOL.
It is likely true that if you want to do something that touches as many people as something Amazon, Postmates or Uber does, it will probably be about as expensive for you as it is for them. That's a simple matter of scale. If you are going to serve 10 million people, and every customer costs $10/year to serve you are going to spend $100M - but hopefully generate $1B. The problem appears to be that you don't have the $100M to start.
Keep in mind that every giant company started in a small niche market at first -- because the founder didn't already have $100s of millions of dollars to start. Facebook started out with a very simple app at just one university, Uber in just one city, and Amazon selling only books.
If you have a differentiator and can win a niche market with SIMPLE technology, you can probably do it cheaply. But if you have to build something that is as complex as Amazon or Uber is now (not how simple they were when they started) then you are probably going down the wrong path.
Don't let this get you down. Let it give you an insight instead. You don't need to start by boiling the ocean; start by boiling a cup of tea. Just figure out which cup to start with, and then brew another and another. Before long, you'll find you've grown big enough to defend some turf and take more ground from bigger players. Some day maybe you will be one of them.
Before Amazon there were many bookshops on the internet. Before Google there were many search engines .. this list continues.
Like Kathy says, you're going through what just about everyone starting a business from scratch went through. You appear to be pretty determined - that is an essential quality that will see you through times like this.
The beauty of the internet is that you can get to work with people from across the globe. So after exhausting your network and local scene, look further afield. Find (technical) people on this website, LinkedIn or similar. Do a bit of research on them and if you like the sound of what they've done, send them a message - make it personal. You'd be surprise how many people out there are willing to help.
You don't have to explain all of your business idea to them, but be prepared to ask them questions relevant to what you're trying to do. One good way is to find a website and ask what it would take to make a cut down version of it with this or that feature.
Sarah, dont be hard on yourself and dont let the naysayers derail your idea. Software doesnt cost millions to build -- MVP is all that it takes to validate the concept & gain traction.
Amazon & Uber didnt launch worldwide at 1 go -- they had their growth pangs as well
1) Find a niche and test for market fit.
2) Ignore naysayers. Listen to good insights.
3) Don't get stuck on this. Create a vision for your company and everything else will follow aligned to it. Here is a story to encourage you: " Jeff Bezos incorporated the company as "Cadabra" on July 5, 1994. Bezos changed the name to Amazon a year later after a lawyer misheard its original name as "cadaver". In September 1994, Bezos purchased the URL Relentless.com and briefly considered naming his online store Relentless, but friends told him the name sounded a bit sinister. The domain is still owned by Bezos and still redirects to the retailer. The company went online as Amazon.com in 1995." Source Wikipedia
Hello Sarah ! From my years as an entrepreneur, I understand that EVERYONE defaults to being a "can't be done" person ! Focus on the fact that you will always need to "swim upstream" with your idea and take every "NO" to be a learning experience. Definitely be open to modifying your idea when someone comes with good feedback, as there are 100 ways to do everything. In my mind, I always image an automobile entrepreneur back in 1910... I'm sure everyone said to him/her "FORD is making 30 reliable cars a day, you can NEVER compete with them... they are unbeatable". How many billion dollar auto companies are there now?
1&2 are linked. Start small build from there to show your way is different, adding value. Don't listen to techs. If your feedback was from half a dozen top VC that would be different. 3. start with the domain name, purchase if you have to, then it all falls into place from there.
What's up, Sarah!
First, Your vision...is YOURS!
Never let anyone discourage you from moving toward that vision!
Here a few motivational videos!
Second, I remember wanting to create apps but I didn't know any programming languages. Huge problem, right?! So I decided to take 3 months and learn all about programming, front-end, back-end, etc.
You can learn everything about programming here (and it FREE!) https://www.codecademy.com/
Lastly, the name and trademark is something you can do down the road....
Fight for your Vision, Sarah!