You have a compelling problem and have identified a strong solution to address it. Now you have to do two things: articulate your solution in a clear and compelling manner, and figure out the best mechanism to bring it to life.
Articulate your Solution
You may have the best solution on earth, but that doesn't matter if you can't efficiently and effectively explain your idea. Generally, innovators need to invest their own time and money in developing a first prototype and pitch deck. You use these to get your first infusion of capital or establish foundational partnerships that enable you to develop your solution.
A good prototype will make your solution come to life. It doesn’t have to look like the final solution you want to bring to market, but it has to help people quickly understand and/or experience what you’re proposing. It should demonstrate the key innovations that make your solution unique or different, and help people envision the experience you’re proposing for future customers.
A good pitch deck generally includes high quality illustrations of the solution, and then proves that you’ve worked through feasibility, desirability and viability. You should have data to support your solution, including technical analysis, customer feedback, and existing market data. Additionally, you should show that your solution is protectable either via formal Intellectual Property or key trade secrets that make it hard to copy. This ensures that sharing your idea won’t entice others to just do it themselves.
Pitch decks take a while to build and are often created on a shoestring, but with perseverance you will create one that entices others to jump on board and help you.
With a pitch deck, you can then start talking with others about your options.
One approach is to start a new venture. This is compelling because you retain control over your solution, but it can also be the most difficult because you have to build all of the company’s infrastructure from scratch. You have to seek funding, build a team, develop company processes, etc. You will likely spend a significant amount of time applying for grants, talking with angel investors, and pitching to venture capitalists.
A second approach is to explore licensing opportunities with companies that might have a business interest in your solution. They either have tangential products and could expand their market by adding your solution, or they have inferior approaches to address the problem you’ve identified and your solution can help them retain the market in face of competition. This approach will often accelerate your ability to bring your solution to market, but in the process you do lose control (how much depends on your negotiation) over your solution.
Whether you go at it alone or look for partners is a critical strategic decision. In either case, you should network as extensively as you can to meet the people who can help you. Tell your friends and acquaintances about your plans and let them know what kind of people you’re interested in meeting, attend local entrepreneurship meetings, cold call people and say yes to every introduction you’re offered. You never know which one will pay off.
As a venture capital firm we look forward to meeting teams who decide to build a new venture. If you think that’s the right pathway for you, please review our additional primers and reach out to us when you are ready!