Note to entrepreneurs: Your idea is not special
— Brad Feld is a managing director at the Boulder, Colorado-based venture capital firm Foundry Group. He also co-founded TechStars and writes the popular blog, Feld Thoughts. The views expressed are his own. —
Every day I get numerous emails from software and Internet entrepreneurs describing their newest ideas.
Often these entrepreneurs think their idea is brand new – that no one has ever thought of it before. Other times they ask me to sign a non-disclosure agreement to protect their idea. Occasionally the emails mysteriously allude to the idea without really saying what it is.
These entrepreneurs think their idea is special and magic. And they are wrong.
The great entrepreneurs are already focused on the implementation of their idea. They send me links to their website or software. They describe the business they are in the process of creating (or have already created). They point me to what they’ve done to implement their idea and show real users who validate that the idea is important. And they quickly move past the idea to the execution of the idea.
Google? Not the first search engine. Facebook? Not the first social network. Groupon? Not the first deal site. Pandora? Not the first music site. The list goes on. Even when you go back in time to the origins of the software industry: MS-DOS – not the first operating system. Lotus 1-2-3 – not the first spreadsheet.
The products and their subsequent companies became great because of execution. First, they had to execute on building a great product. Next, they had to execute on building a great business. Finally, they had to execute on scaling, sustaining, and evolving a great business.
Rinse and repeat, over and over again.
It’s awesome when an entrepreneur is obsessed with his idea. Every great product that I’m aware of came from an obsession of an idea and every great company followed. But for every entrepreneur that shifted the obsession with the idea into an obsession with the execution of the idea, I know many more entrepreneurs who got stuck on the idea, but never focused on building something from it.
Sure, they tried, but they didn’t obsess about it, pour all their energy into it, and most importantly get as many great people as they could on the journey with them.
As a venture capitalist, I’m constantly looking for great entrepreneurs who have amazing ideas. But I don’t value the ideas. I value the entrepreneurs’ execution of the ideas.