Last year I watched a great presentation by Chris Dixon, partner at Andreessen Horowitz and start up investor extraordinaire. The presentation opened my eyes to why the best startups have good ideas that look like bad ideas.
Key point #1 is that there is a sweet spot between good ideas and seemingly bad ideas. If we consider a Venn diagram with circles for a good idea and a bad idea, the sweet spot is the area where the two cross. Those companies that have found this spot are usually startups that are willing to solve those problems that others won’t or have overlooked. Good ideas that look like good ideas are highly competitive and large companies (with a lot more resources than startups) are already pursuing them.
Key point #2 is that people who create, craft and love their art tend to focus on these seemingly “bad ideas.” These are the innovators and the “troublemakers” who question the status quo and, sometimes, end up making something so remarkable that it creates a movement, a tribe, a following and a major business.
Key point #3 Dixon says the best way to come up with a good idea that looks like a bad one is not to read what everyone else is reading. He suggests going out and experiencing different things in order to come up with these good ideas.
I will finish this post with two quotes that directly relate to these points:
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“How do you expect to think differently if you are reading the same books as everyone else?” – EMC