From the initial generation of ideas to the all-important launch, the journey of creating a successful product is no mean feat. At Cookies, we’ve joined more than a few startups on this journey and helped at each stage of the process. This series of blog posts will guide you through some of the tools, tips and tricks to minimise the pain of this process. Today, we start with the ‘Great Product Idea’™.

Evaluating your ideas

In the early days of a project, it’s easy to get swept away in the brainstorming session. There’s always plenty of ideas flying around, and those ideas usually spark even more. It can be pretty daunting trying to narrow down the huge list of potential startup ideas, not only because of the number of them, but also the fact that people often become very attached to an idea that they love and don’t want to let go. This article will look at how to evaluate them.

Now, there’s no exact science to selecting a product to evaluate from your previously brainstormed list. It essentially comes down to what you think is the best starting point. Do you feel strongly about a particular idea? Does one give you that deep down, gut feeling that it can be more successful than the others? Perhaps you’re extremely passionate about one in particular? There’s no right or wrong way to select a product idea for further evaluation, and there’s always opportunity to go back to your list and evaluate the others if needed.

So where do you start?

Consider your goals and objectives

You have to figure out exactly what you want from your startup. Do you want to disrupt an already established and busy industry or build upon an existing idea?
Be sure to select an idea that matches well with what you want for your life and in the near distant future, because you’ll be devoting a huge amount of time to its development and growth.

Can it be funded?

If you have a fantastic idea, but lack the funding to get started, it’s going to be tough to succeed. Ideas for which you can safely raise the funds should be given higher priority.
You’ll need to be confident that you can sufficiently raise investment.
There are a number of different funding options and here are some of the most popular:

1. Crowdfunding: This option allows anyone that believes in a business to contribute money towards it. Platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo are great examples of places where you can create a powerful crowdfunding campaign. (Who remembers the Potato Salad campaign madness?). But, remember: although crowdfunding is the current ‘trendy’ way of acquiring funds, there are plenty of campaigns that go unfunded each year through this method. It’s a very competitive place to earn funding, so it’s advisable not to throw all your eggs into this one unpredictable basket.

2. Business loan: This is often the first place entrepreneurs go to when thinking about funding. Although going through the bank route is popular, you’ll have to fight your way through a tough lending period. The main obstacle will be presenting how every single penny of the loan will be spent. It’s important to be prepared for this; by researching and evaluating exactly what and where you will be spending the money.

3. Venture capitalist: These are essentially a professional group that looks for businesses to fund. This option does have a lot of money available to offer and plenty of resources to help your business succeed. However, it may not be the best option for startups as they typically look for larger opportunities that are a bit more stable and often require you to give up a more control than you may be comfortable with.

4. Angel investor: Working in a similar manner to venture capitalists, these are smaller operations (and can sometimes comprise of only one person). However, they often look to acquire a large percentage of your copmany to help make their money back, and then some. It does allow you to earn mentorship when it’s needed, though.

Find your passion…

Your business should be your passion. Your product could be looking to solve a problem that you personally identify with or feel passionate about. If you actually enjoy what you’re creating, it will help your business journey feel a lot less like ‘work’. Let’s face it, you will need all the inspiration, commitment and perseverance in the world to make it as an entrepreneur, so starting a business with a product you are passionate about can help with this.

…But don’t scratch your own itch

Yes, passion is important, but just because you are passionate about your idea, doesn’t mean that others will be. The most successful businesses are usually born out of that sweet spot between what the world really needs and what you are deeply passionate about. Therefore, above all, you need to find a real problem to solve.

Cat scratch
Image by Itchys

As long as consumers have problems, they will always be searching for a solution. People will constantly be looking for faster, smarter and better ways to accomplish their everyday tasks. Fortunately for entrepreneurs, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in existing products out there, but there’s still the issue of actually finding these painful problems and matching them with the best solutions possible. That’s where the real work starts.

Attention spans are getting shorter as we continue to multitask on a daily basis. Because of this, only a few products are getting noticed as consumers look for products that offer solutions for ‘musts’, not ‘wants’.

You need to be doing something different and better to rise above the competition as modern consumers expect and demand more than ‘just another product’.
Google reinvented the internet search. Netflix solved on-demand streaming media. Amazon simplified online buying. If you can identify a crucial problem that you can effectively execute a solution and deliver that product to market, you will be able to create a real business that matters.

The next steps

There are thousands of products and services available to people today. This means there are unlimited opportunities for you to enter the marketplace and compete with products that are already being offered by your competition.

The most important thing you can do before deciding what to create is to think. And the more you think about a product or service before launching it, the better your decisions will be. Your skill at choosing that product or service is absolutely critical to your success.

Keep in mind, ideas are a dime a dozen – it’s in the execution that successful companies are born and entrepreneurs are made. The next step in executing your ideas is to choose and refine your niche. I will be discussing this in Part 2.

Main image by Adam