How to get your start as an Entrepreneur

We recently witnessed an email conversation between a local student entrepreneur, Paul Baechtold, and Gaslight’s very own Lean Startup authority, Bill Barnett.

The content speaks for itself and requires little introduction. We thought the conversation sparked by Paul, and the advice that follows, was both valuable and universal. If you have a great idea, and the drive to make it a reality, but are stifled by uncertainty about where and how to start, read on.


From: Paul Baechtold

I am a student-entrepreneur at Miami University looking to start a tech start- up, but unfortunately am lacking in the development aspect of the idea. I think I have an idea with huge potential, and really just need a talented developer or two to get it up and running. I hope to then apply to incubators across the country once the platform is live. Would love to hear back from someone if there is any interest in learning more about the idea. Thanks!

From: Bill Barnett

Hello Paul,

We love talking with entrepreneurs. Believe it or not, the first thing we typically do when speaking with them is try to convince them that they’re not ready for custom software. This may seem odd given that we make our living primarily writing custom software for our clients but unless the relationship we have with our clients is mutually beneficial chances are we’ll both wind up unhappy with the outcome.

Let’s discuss that “mutually beneficial” part. For our part, we’re confident that we can provide quality software. We’ve done so for established companies in the Bay area to startups in our own backyard. What we’re concerned about is building the highest quality software that no one will ever use. Ensuring that your idea, your vision is of value to enough users to merit its construction is your part.

We’re big fans of the lean startup movement and as much as it pains us to say it, often the first thing to do with a startup idea is not to write code; it’s to state the assumptions about your idea, develop falsifiable hypotheses about those assumptions, and then test them rigorously.

Still want to be an entrepreneur? We hope so because many of our best clients started right where you’re standing today. So how would we recommend that you proceed? We think you should read three books. They are:

Given your stated goal, we can assure you that an entrepreneur with an idea that has been vetted using the processes documented in these books is far more attractive to tech incubators than a polished application that no one is using. We hope you’ll give serious consideration to this advice.

Of course we’d still appreciate an opportunity to chat with you about your idea. If that sounds worthwhile to you just send me a reply or call my cellphone (listed below) and we’ll arrange for a chat. We wish you the best with your studies and with your career as an entrepreneur. I hope to have the opportunity to speak with you soon.

Regards,
Bill Barnett

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