Math Formula

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Long And Winding Road Of Funding A Business

A couple of weeks ago, I boldly announced that I'm claiming my share of the mobile market. As much as I already could imagine back then how naive that calculation is, I thought that if I could convince only 1% of the mobile clients, I'd make a fortune overnight. Quite surprisingly, though, this did not yet happen. What had I screwed up?

In the meantime, I started attending an online course about "Technology Entrepreneurship", provided by Stanford professor Chuck Eesley and hosted on

The course is split into two main parts: First of all, two "warm-up" activities, in order to learn first basic steps, and to build a team for the second part, in which we will perform further steps to bring a "business idea" to actual execution.

As the first part is done, I will quickly summarize what I learned up to now, and how this shapes my overall perception of founding a business.

The first warm-up activity was simply brainstorming business ideas, disregarding whether they sound anyhow promising or not. There are several techniques that help you coming up with ideas, but if your mind is on fire already, ideas of all kinds pop up automagically all the time anyways. I was outright amazed by the overall eagerness shared by all colleagues, and the funny ideas we came up with! Retailing alcohol to Saudi-Arabia? A sex shop for religious people? Or a stove made of wooden?

The next step was to agree on the five "best" and the five "worst" ideas, and create a business canvas model for it. The idea I had chosen was about a mobile application for automatically recognizing the current state of a physical chessboard. Using the business canvas forces you to think about certain aspects of turning this idea into a business, e.g., customer segments, marketing, core activities, partners and revenue streams.

Already in the course of doing this, we found that even an apparently bad idea might have certain positive aspects as well. Going even further, the second task was to take any "worst" idea of another team, and try to promote it as good as possible. Check the result:

Not that bad, after all, is it?

So, first key finding for me is: Each idea can turn into a promising one! (Chuck Eesley provides more comprehensive thoughts on the topic here.)

Next, Chuck doesn't get tired to stress the importance of team composition. Lacking experience in that field, I cannot quite judge on it, but it makes perfectly sense to me. Founding a business without knowing whether your co-founder snores would be kind of similar to marrying after a heavy night in Las Vegas.

But most of all, I'm getting more and more convinced that simply having "a killer idea" is not enough. Far from it. To be clear, it is an important prerequisite. But it is not enough, it is the actual execution that matters a million times more.

So, I don't yet know what it takes to fund a business. At least I know now that it's nothing enough to have an idea. Still, everything starts with an idea - even the long and winding road of founding a business.

P.S.: Already now, I'm very thankful to all my colleagues for the great experiences and good brainstorming made up to now. Looking forward to continue working with you guys!

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