I’ve met a lot of entrepreneurs over the past couple months. Some are really exceptional; true visionaries who leave you with no doubt that their company is going to be very successful. And then there are those who miss the mark entirely. I’ve realized while working at NYC Seed, the two most difficult challenges faced by every entrepreneur. To most, theoretically, both tasks are blatantly obvious. However, the actual accomplishment of these first two challenges is what sets a serious entrepreneur apart from the everyday dreamer
The Opportunity: Identifying new innovations that are right for a particular market is extremely difficult. There are essentially two frameworks for learning about a market/industry to identify problems or inefficiencies: work directly for a company or research. Both are time consuming, and neither is perfect. Working for an organization will give you a pretty good representation of the problems the employees and company faces everyday. It also validates you as a credible source; an industry “expert” of sorts. Performing research requires numerous conversations with industry professionals with the hope that they will shed some light on their needs. This approach allows for a much broader perspective of the market, but requires a certain level of skill in identifying real opportunities. Discovering opportunities cannot happen over night. It takes time. In fact, a serious entrepreneur never ends the search for new opportunities. Customer’s needs change too quickly. Successful companies adapt to what the market will hold. Focusing only on the product can be deadly.
The Team: Creating the right team takes a lot of hard work and patience. Finding partners that believe in your own capabilities as much as their own is undeniably a difficult task. The right set of co-founders will make or break a company. It’s the first thing any right-minded investor evaluates immediately after the pitch. The best duo, without a doubt, is one business minded, market oriented, sales driven guru and a technical co-founder. Teams that can build a product, sell it to a customer and repeat this process a thousand times over are serious entrepreneurs.
In a future post, I will dive deeper into some of my own experiences evaluating opportunities and seeking a co-founder. This post was not meant to provide too much detail on either subject, as there is clearly a lot to discuss.