Startups, like everything in life, have some key elements for success. I'm listing here what I think are the most important factors to help you moving your idea to a successful startup.
((The order here is irrelevant and all have the same equal value))
So you have the idea and you believe it's the time to move forward. This is the proper time where you should prototype it. The purpose of prototyping is to collect enough feedback to decide whether you are going to continue and in which direction or cancel the idea altogether. Also, the prototype is helpful for marketing the idea and making relations.
The prototype should be the minimum work required to demo the idea for a group of selected people. Ideally the prototype takes 2-3 days of work. However, sometimes you need more time to demo the idea but in worst cases it shouldn't take more than 2 weeks, otherwise you are actually coding the idea, not prototyping it, which is a totally wrong decision.
After you prepare the demo, pick a set of people including business guys and collect their feedback:
- They do like it: This is the ideal situation. Congrats!
- They kinda like it: This is the normal situation where you fix the workflow and decide your next step basing on the feedback you get.
- They don't really like it: This case is usually referred to as "Fail Fast" or "FF". Don't get disappointed, make use of the feedback and rethink the whole idea. Most likely you will start from scratch with a new startup idea.
Here is the golden rule:
Launch first, then figure out the business model is the recipe of disaster
Relaying on the "coolness" of the idea is a wrong thing. It's all about business after all, and investors would like to understand how you are going to generate money. Actually not only that; they would like to see how confident you are when it comes to business model.
Start putting the business plan before you do any coding. Supported with estimated numbers, the business plan will help you take the proper decision at the proper time.Adding features, updating the product, marking, expanding to new markets or even seeking fund shouldn't be arbitrary decisions. Instead, they should be taken when needed and based on your business model.
Believe it or not, the team you pick might be the most important factor. The qualifications and the passion are the characteristics that you should look for. Even investors considers those ones, and that's why you hear them saying: "It should be your bread and butter". Many startups were bought or invested in because of the teams behind them apart from the business they do.
Pick your team carefully. Don't fall in the trap of creating a bunch of geeks team. Instead, pick qualifications that you personally lack. Having a business guy or a marketing one working with you is highly recommended when you lack those abilities of talking or marketing your work.
Don't underestimate the role of passion when you pick your team. Passion is the work soul, it drives the work flawlessly in good times and makes it immune in bad times. Many startups succeeded because of the team's passion despite the bad times they faced, and vise versa, some of them had talents but lacked the passion and finally they failed miserably.
Feel free to add your comments on those factors and what you think might also be a missing one.