So you want to start a tech company. I won’t try to stop you — I’ve started several of them. In fact, my current venture, Sphere 3D, is something of an anomaly in my career, in that it’s one of very few that I didn’t create myself.
Over the years, I’ve come to believe that starting and leading companies is in some ways just something in my DNA. That much I know. What you need to ask yourself is: Is it in yours? I’d ask you to think really seriously about that questions. Because a startup can be gratifying and, if you’re committed, it can also be very lucrative. But if you’re not committed to it with every last bit of your heart and soul? That’s where you get into trouble.
So if passion is step one — and it is, believe me; there is literally no chance that any of my startups would have made it without it — then what’s step two? You’ll hear a lot of people looking to discourage you. They’ll tell you things like even great ideas have a short shelf life, because things move so quickly, or that it’s better to pitch a bunch of half-baked ideas and hope something sticks — you can figure out the rest later, they might say, but don’t waste time on the front end.
To that, I say: No. That approach, to me, just tells me that you’ve skipped step one, or don’t have a passion for anything in the first place. Tossing undercooked ideas around doesn’t look industrious to me. It looks desperate. And more than anything, it tells me you don’t have something in hand that you truly believe in.
You see where I’m going with this.
Step two is really a product of step one. If you really care, then give your idea the tender loving care it deserves. Nurture it. It’s your baby. Consider every option. Complete the picture. Details matter. When you approach a venture capitalist for seed money, you’re selling a business plan and market potential, sure. But more than anything, you’re selling belief — belief that your ideas are what the world is missing right now, and will be a worse place without; and more than anything else, belief in yourself — that no one, nowhere, can ever do the justice to this idea that you can.
So while I can tell you about hot markets and underserved sectors — Sphere3D is doing nicely in the hybrid cloud space — that’s completely irrelevant. What I can tell you that’s more relevant than anything else, in the tech space or anywhere, frankly, is the one thing even the fast-paced tech world can’t make obsolete is that elusive, compelling element of belief. If you don’t have it, nothing else will matter.