Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ideas, anyone?

I was at a TIE event this evening about the art of recruiting a star team for your startup. It had great panelists and the discussion was lively, but sadly short. I was interested in finding out how to spot and recruit stars in the early stages. Where do you go looking for them? How do you evaluate them? What kind of equity do you share? And so on and so forth. But, the audience was fixated on IP protection and NDAs more than anything else.

This brings me to the "idea" in a business. There are lots of people with lots of great ideas. We see an extremely small percentage of them turning into products and making it big. It is not the idea that matters, it is the execution. Investors (VCs, angels, etc.) do not invest in an idea. They invest in the team (Of course, the team is the one that came up with the idea). If the current idea tanks, the team should be capable of churning out another idea in no time, and take it to market.

If you have an idea for a product, you can rest assured that there are at least a dozen others with the same idea. Several of them are trying to productize it right this moment. There are lots of brilliant people in this world, including you. The fact that you have competition is proof that your idea is a good one. The one that wins is the idea that is executed well and timed to the market appropriately.

Top executives always give seminars and talks on their strategies for success. They give away their secrets in these seminars as well as in books they write. Why do they give away their trade secrets? It is not just their modus operandi that took them where they are, it is their execution.

So, do not be afraid of someone stealing your idea. Of course, you need to share it with people you trust. And you should do everything reasonable to protect it. But, keeping the idea to oneself and not doing anything about it is worse than sharing it and having someone else execute it. At least, you will have a great story for your grand kids.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Spinning Apple

Isn't this good timing or what? Microsoft is getting ready to release Zune, and Apple posts this notice on their web site that a very small number of iPods were released with a virus in them. Apart from the spin Apple put on this story and blamed Microsoft for the failure (which I don't agree), this seems like a well timed (marketing) message than anything else:
- Apple hardware and software are (generally) free from viruses (for a variety of reasons).
- Microsoft software and hardware is susceptible to viruses. So, Zune buyers beware. Zune is Microsoft hardware and runs Microsoft software, and has wireless connectivity. So, it is susceptible to viruses!

Or, is it my imagination running wild?