We’ve all been to a startup networking event and met someone who tells you that their ‘great’ idea is going to change the world, haven’t we? You stand and listen to their ambitious claims for a few minutes just to realize that they haven’t even done their homework. The idea isn’t new, or it simply won’t work. Soon, it transpires that they have done no market research yet still expect to find a co-founder.
Surely these guys are just deluding themselves and not only are they wasting their own time, but also everyone else’s, but sadly today with the money sloshing around in these circles, there are more and more of them. Here are a few ways to spot the dreamers:
‘I have a unique idea’ – Let’s face it, there are 7 billion people on our planet. It is highly unlikely that any idea is unique. If you look at the stats, many of the most successful startups did not have unique propositions. It’s the implementing of the idea what matters.
’I have 8 other great ideas’ – A variation of the above. Steer clear. It is difficult enough to make one idea happen, even if your motivation and organisational skills are second to none! More than one spells lack of focus and not 100% passion.
‘Where are the beers?’ – Beware of ‘entrepreneurs’ who only attend networking events for free booze. They are free-loaders not entrepreneurs. It’s the content of the event that should attract real entrepreneurs, not free beers.
‘I can’t tell you anything’ – We are in ‘stealth mode’. This generally means they haven’t worked out what they are doing and are too embarrassed to admit it.
’My website is under construction’ – It’s fine to have a landing page for a couple of months, but it’s not okay to have a site under construction for 6 months. How difficult is it to build a website these days? Not very…
’I have a fixie bike’ – Having a fixie bike, a cool beard or moustache may make you a hipster but it doesn’t make you a startup founder. There are quite a lot of these species roaming the streets of Shoreditch. Good to hangout with. Bad to invest in.
’I only need £1M’ – Asking for unrealistic amounts of money at an early stage is a sign of naivety and sends out warning signs. Look for entrepreneurs who look for funding that is appropriate to what they need to get them to the next stage.
’I have been working for IBM’ – …for 20 years. Working for a corporate company, however innovative, is not entrepreneurial. Being a rebel in a corporate world is still not being entrepreneurial. It is just being rebellious. Working for a bank is definitely not being entrepreneurial, however much you embrace innovation.
’My mum told me it would work’ – The best validation for an idea is proof that someone will buy it. This can be achieved by creating an MVP. Then you can prove to your mum and everyone else that you have something tangible and worth investing in.
I hope this will help you spot the ‘true’ entrepreneurs and you can use this as a guide to sift out the sensible ones from the dreamers. These are people with a good idea, a plan of action and hopefully some traction. Generally, these are also serious folks who have already accepted that they will need to take risks to pursue their passion. We love ‘real’ entrepreneurs and are always on the lookout for the very best!