Why The Idea is Bigger Than Everything

I was doing some thinking a few weeks ago about why I am a founder. Everyone has different reasons they look to in order to get through the long grind of being a founder. It’s tough and very thankless, so you need to find the tangible reasons that you can look to both to measure progress and to remind yourself that you are making progress on all fronts.

Those reasons are all important ones, but they pale in comparison to what drives you to go beyond simply being a founder to being an obsessed, irrational and irrepressible builder: The Idea.

When it comes to building a lasting company The Idea is more than just a problem you’ve identified. The idea is some new insight in to the world. When you have an idea then you get a lot of things for free along with it:

  • Vision
  • Strategy
  • Product concept

The entire business will continue to evolve, but truly great ideas are unshaken through constant change. Having an idea that is worthy of spawning a startup is a standard that you should hold yourself to. You’ll know the big one when it comes.

There are things that come up along the way that make you think you’ve had a big idea and those are the reasons that so many startups get started but lose steam quickly: you find a simple problem, you have an idea for a feature but mistake it for a product, or you find a “vision” which is really just a statement.

These things do not last, but ideas do. An idea should be novel, unexpected and impossibly big.

  • Reddit wanted to create a front page for the internet
  • Salesforce wanted to make enterprise software as easy to use and buy as Amazon.com and Ebay.com
  • Google wanted to make search useful (and late went on to aspire to organize the world’s information)
  • Elon Musk thought we should drive in electric cars and fly to space one day.
These are companies who show us the future and promise to take us there. We use them, buy from them and care about them because they aspire to a big idea and when the stumble along the way it makes it far easier for us to be patient with them.
Mine? At GoInstant we thought the web should be a multi-player experience.
What’s your big idea?

A few slides for every Canadian startup

With a little help from my friends

I think that every Canadian startup could throw a couple of slides in their presentations and pitch decks that could help themselves and help build a stronger ecosystem in Canada. I was struck by the story of Jon Medved in Startup Nation including other startups in his pitch deck. It’s a simple thing. It demonstrates entrepreneurial density, provides social proof, and potentially helps create some FOMO in foreign investors. All from including 2 or 3 slides at the end of your presentation or pitch deck, particularly when you are travelling.

At StartupNorth, we’ve always believed that we as entrepreneurs should help each other out. The goal here is to raise the noise around Canadian startups and your friends and colleagues when you are travelling. There is a lot of amazing stuff going on in Canada. We don’t need public sector programs and not-for-profits to support us, we already do the things to grow our companies. And a little bit of extra effort to raise the attention of those around us. It won’t hurt, it will help.

Here are basic un-styled PowerPoint slides that include a set of recent fundings in Canada by US VCs and a second slide that lists a set of other local companies that the audience might find interesting. (I have added 24 companies I think are interesting).

Help us. Add the following slides to your presentations.

Microsoft, WPC and Entrepreneurs in Toronto

Microsoft <3 Entrepreneurs - WPC Party

Did you know that 15,000 global players in the Microsoft ecosystem are descending on Toronto in July? Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is happening July 8-12, 2012 at the ACC and the MTCC. That’s a lot of people building on the stack. The BizSpark One program was one that I championed during my time at the Microsoft, and there are a lot of Canadian companies that are building on the Microsoft stack:

Mark Relph (LinkedIn, @mrelph) and the Redmond and Silicon Valley crews will be in Toronto. Mark used to be my boss at Microsoft Canada, and has subsequently caught the startup bug. He’s helping startups through BizSpark and BizSpark One programs. Along with the folks from a far, Christian Beauclair (LinkedIn, @cbeauclair) and Shane Davies (LinkedIn) will also be around to support Canadian startups.

And whether you love or hate the Microsoft stack, they are trying to move to greater independence to enable developers. Microsoft is looking for ways to help startups, BizSpark, Azure and other programs like Kinect Accelerator make it easier to understand why.

Why not join WPC attendees and other startups on July 10 at MaRS?