I came across a great blog post about startups through a friend of mine. He helped me start (and stop) a company with some similarities to ContractBlast.
My filter for startup ideas typically revolves around the Pragmatic Marketing dogma. There are 3 critical hurdles a new idea needs to clear.
- The problem I’m going to solve is pervasive in an industry. Lots of people have the problem and can quickly realize it as a problem if approached with my solution.
- The problem is urgent. Solving it provides immediate benefit. Waiting to solve it is a real threat to the customer’s business.
- The customer is willing to pay. This is where my buddy and I fell down last time. We created a great productivity tool and everyone agreed on the benefits, but it had a “should be a free app” feel.
ContactBlast missed on #2: solving the problem of contracting efficiency wasn’t urgent. The benefit would be realized over the long term, but that meant a longer sales cycles and greater commitment from customers.
Using the Pragmatic filters can sound discouraging for entrepreneurs, but I find it the opposite. The filters keep me refining my ideas until they meet all 3 conditions, and that can save a huge amount of time, money and energy.