Every Great App Starts as a Great Idea

CFO-turned-entrepreneur Erik dreams of a world in which clueless men don’t have to guess what jewelry to buy for their partner, as their beloved has already called ‘dibs’ on their preferred items. So he’s laying the groundwork to commercialize this simple but profound concept, with an app called “Dibbsi” that lets you lay claim to a bounty of consumer goods. As Marc counsels him, though, the first step is figuring out what the market’s appetite truly is for solving this problem.

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#9: Every Great App Starts as a Great Idea

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Stephen B Purkiss
4 months ago

What a corker of an episode!

I am literally in recovery from spending twenty years being the go-to person for these fantastical ideas – every type of person and every type of organisation from small to multinational. They all somehow expect us to deliver the tech that’s going to make their ideas happen, and get upset if they don’t or if you tell them the truth – you have a much better way of communicating this hence why I am learning as I see my value is in more in that part of it than providing the tech.

Everyone I believe expresses their problems and solutions without necessarily knowing it, and that’s why I’m here to write a comment because not only is the story of the expressions on my face whilst in the gym listening to this episode today were quite phenomenal and the urge to slap my head multiple times was immense, it was that very last moment in the episode where this man mentioned that he worked in the wine industry and I thought “well not that I’ve had to do it often but I never know what wine people like and whenever anyone’s bought me wine before I’ve never liked it because I only like Pinot Noir and loads of people have dinners and stuff and it’s kinda also been a running joke on television about wrong choices of wine, and I’d be more than fine letting the world know I only like Pinot Noir and I’d be happy to get the latest offers from local and not-so-local suppliers.

I did a quick google and there doesn’t seem to be a my favourite wine site that’s independent and I agree with your remark about the fact it’s not necessarily a bad idea, it needs to find a problem to solve. I fear after listening to your podcast that this gentleman won’t find a problem as you mentioned, it’s one of those generic things that many have tried, so my bet would be stick to what you know, try the wine thing because that could easily be implemented for free and it solves a problem that although isn’t a big one, it’s a simple one that could. just. make. it.

Thanks for your wonderful work, if I ever manage to control my ADHD & ASD & PDA for long enough I’d be doing a podcast too. Maybe. Probably not. lol 😉

Marc Randolph
Editor
Marc Randolph
2 months ago

Thanks Stephen! It is amazing isn’t it how often people just “want someone to build their idea”. That tendancy to fall in love with ones idea and be certain (certain!) that it is going to change the world is such a strong one. The tragedy of Erik’s situation is that his idea would be so relatively simple to test with little or no tech whatsoever. And let me know when you get the wine idea built!

m

Matthew Assad
Matthew Assad
4 months ago

Great episode. Erik is a very intellectual guy, and the idea is an interesting one, but I am not sure there is anything proprietary about the concept. I think Marc’s advice about Erik manually working it is the best way to start. After a few months, Erik should have some good data to create a proof of concept around. With the right execution during the early stages, this could be something. I have learned from this episode that time can either be an entrepreneur’s best friend or their worst enemy. I am wishing you all the best, Erik. 

Marc Randolph
Editor
Marc Randolph
2 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Assad

Agreed. i really want to get Erik back on as an addendum to a future episode to see what he might have learned.

Aliya Amershi
4 months ago

First let me say that I absolutely love this podcast from Marc, but this episode is one of my favorite episodes. I am actually a Tech Startup Coach and Founder myself and had a customer with a similar idea that was presented in this episode. It was uncanny how the conversation unfolded and the advice given was so similar to what happened with my customer. Marc was on point and probably communicated his message of simplicity, speed, and focus on customers even better than I did. I love how Marc encouraged Erik to think outside of the box, or “think outside of the app” as I like to tell my customers. I loved even more how Marc called out that Erik I believed has been trying for 8 years to get this idea off the ground and told him straight that this could be knocked out and tested in a matter of a couple of weeks – not even. And I loved that Marc was aghast that the incubator was having Erik focus on things that were not relevant or urgent right now as the only thing that really matters as this point is proof of concept and some sort of customer validation. It’s sad that so many incubators and university entrepreneurship programs are actually pretty outdated and even ridiculous, which is why I created my own online program to help aspiring entrepreneurs break into tech and build their app idea quickly without all of the unnecessary barriers to entry.

Marc Randolph
Editor
Marc Randolph
2 months ago
Reply to  Aliya Amershi

thanks for the affirmation Aliya. I’m actually a big fan of incubators when they are supporting an entrepreneurs ability to actuallyl get started. It’s when they are purely pedantic and/or intellectual that they cause more harm than good in giving founders yet one more reason to delay getting started.

Nathan Heintzeman
Nathan Heintzeman
3 months ago

I loved Marc’s commend that no idea survives its infancy. The successful entrepreneur is the one who is able to pivot on a dime and evolve an idea when he or she gets slapped by reality.

Things to have on your radar:

  • Your List from Amazon (Mentioned on the podcast, but make sure you study this and learn as much as you can from it.)
  • Things to Get Me
  • Oh, and this little one called pinterest.

Best of luck!

Marc Randolph
Editor
Marc Randolph
2 months ago

All great suggestions Nathan. Those who don’t clearly undestand all the other ways an idea has been implemented, risk not learning from those successes and failures.

Amal Sain
Amal Sain
2 months ago

This episode very interesting but after having listened to a few episodes from Marc, I found his approach a bit confusing. From the outset, I felt like Marc wasn’t impressed with the idea or really didn’t believe in it. When that happens, our default reaction is to poke holes in the idea or guide the entrepreneur to realize it himself/herself. Imagine this was an idea that Marc had believed in and the advice would have been different. In that sense, Marc is not suggesting an approach that is agnostic of the idea but I think he is consciously/subconsciously mixing his belief in the idea with the approach. I also see several contradictions in his advice. At some point, he says an idea had to be evolved as it hits the market. Then on another occasion, he pooh-poohs Erik’s idea of finding a team and learning about raising from an incubator. If an idea has to be evolved anyway, why is it a waste of time investing time in building a team and learning about raising capital? Those are needed anyway if you want to take any idea to fruition.
Marc is doing an amazing service by having these discussions in the open but my concern is that some of the subtleties of entrepreneurship are easy to be overlooked in these short discussions.

Marc Randolph
Editor
Marc Randolph
2 months ago
Reply to  Amal Sain

Thanks Amal,

My concern about Erik “wasting time” by finding a team and learning about raising money from the incubator was not because those are bad things in and of themselves, it’s because I felt that Erik was doing those things INSTEAD of getting started on his idea. It felt like it was just another way of “waiting” for the right time to start, and as a regular listener, you know that this is the single biggest thing that prevents people from seeing their ideas become successful.