This isn’t about stinky startups or startups that give you bad breath. But it is about startups that might make you cry.
Recently I’ve spent a lot more time meeting with entrepreneurs and listening to their pitches. It’s not in any formal sense, but I’m happy and eager to provide 30-minute or 1-hour blocks of time to startups, get to know them, listen to their stories and help out if I can. (Tungle me to book an appointment!)
And something I’ve seen a lot of late are startup onions. These are startups (or just ideas) that have many, many, many layers. The ideas are big, the implementations complex. And there’s a lack of clarity around what’s really important. This doesn’t mean the entrepreneurs and startups can’t be successful. It just means there’s a lot of work to do.
If you think of a startup or a startup idea like an onion, then you need to peel away many of the layers before you get to the true essence of things. During the process you’re going to cry. Peeling things away is hard. Peeling away the vision is hard. Peeling away features is hard (often for many people this is the hardest thing for them to do!) And the overall exercise of getting to the core of things is very hard. But it’s absolutely necessary.
Entrepreneurs need to work a lot harder and focus much more on the core components of their startups or startup ideas. Get rid of everything and go right to basics: What problem are you solving? Why will people care? How do you know if people have the problem you’re solving? How do you know how painful the problem is? How will you acquire users and/or customers? If you can’t answer these core questions, you haven’t gotten to the middle of the onion. So keep peeling!
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