An occupational hazard of computer savvy people (me included) is that we get approached by characters such as Ed the Entrepreneur, who has a “great business idea that is very easy to build”. Sometimes with good intentions, sometimes less so. Regardless of the intention, the outcome is the same: asking the techie person to indirectly become investor on their project. My sanity-checks to see if Ed’s idea can work:
- Market segment: I wouldn’t touch B2C with a stick. It would require more polished UI design, support, and a lot of marketing to make it fly. B2B is a better choice if Ed has done consulting gigs on their own in that industry.
- Experience with the purchase side: either Ed has sold project work to the buyer or Ed has been a buyer of similar products. Got bitten on this one after building a software to simulate electricity auctions, to be sold to electricity companies bidding in government contracts. Neither of us had a clue on how this market works, and still don’t.
- Are there competitors? If there are no competitors, there’s no chance. Of course, there’s the one in a million Steve Jobs, but trust me Ed, odds are against you. No one is buying trained neural networks in Lisp, everyone and their dog need WordPress websites.
These three points cover the “classical” business wisdom: you can sell a product if that product solves a painful problem for someone who has the money to pay for it.