Odor Eaters…For Your Mouth

The lingering flavor of a Morningstar Griller veggie burger on your tongue…definitely not delicious-smelling. In fact, the scent might well wilt a flower if you open your mouth next to it.

Courtesy of www.pinterest.com

Courtesy of www.pinterest.com

So what to do if you’re headed to a party right after scarfing down one of those bad-boys? You’d pull out a stick of peppermint-flavored Orbit gum, of course. Because other than vigorously brushing and flossing your teeth, what are your other options?

Nada.

But what about the fact that there will be wine at the party? Unfortunately, peppermint mixed with Sauvignon blanc isn’t super-appetizing.

Courtesy of www.killerwineclub.com

Courtesy of www.killerwineclub.com

Hence, the light bulb.

A Tic Tac type chewable that neutralizes the odors in your mouth.  It doesn’t have any flavor so you can eliminate all evidence of food and prepare for the next indulgence without making your stomach turn at the prospect.

I love this idea.  Hopefully, one day some chemical engineer will come across the post and figure to how to create the product.

In the meantime, I’ll struggle to enjoy my minty-fresh wine.

Wanna Learn How To Start A Startup?

Lucky Stanford students get all the perks.

They get to learn how to start a startup in a class taught by some of the most successful tech founders in Silicon Valley. Sam Altman, entrepreneur, venture capitalist and president of Y Combinator, and Dustin Moskovitz, co-founder of Facebook and Asana, delivered the first lecture.

Courtesy of Sam Altman via Twitter

Courtesy of Sam Altman via Twitter

I picked up a lot of great sound bytes in the video that are helpful to anyone trying to launch a startup.  And remember, this is not all about technology. These words of wisdom apply to ALL.

The big question of the session is why start a start-up?  Altman and Moskovitz don’t romanticize entrepreneurship. They urge the students to go into their endeavors eyes wide open and realize that the uphill climb will be much harder than they ever anticipated.  Starting a startup isn’t a great way to get rich quick.  The media does a great job of making it look so cool.  In reality, it’s not nearly as glamorous. It’s not The Social Network.

You need 4 things to be successful: a great idea, a great product, a great team and great execution.

Be passionate about your idea because you’ll be living, eating, breathing and sleeping it for the foreseeable future.  The dew will be off the rose pretty quickly if you’re not as invested in your idea as you expect your customers to be.  One of the best pieces of advice in the video is to find a small market, create a monopoly and expand quickly. And keep the concept simple!  You should be able to tweet the idea!!!! 140 characters or less!

Spend all your time on building the best, most effective product possible.  Get feedback from a variety of users and OFTEN.  Always refine the product so it meets the needs of your target audience.  The less complex it is, the easier it will be to enhance later.  Focus on building something a small number of users LOVE and not something a large group of users LIKE.

And once you have the product, take it to the audience.  One cool anecdote shared was about how the founder of Pinterest gathered feedback and raised awareness of the site. He’d go into the Apple store in Palo Alto and bring Pinterest up on every device in the store so it was the first thing Apple fans would see.  Brilliant, eh? It worked for a while too…until the geek squad (and I say that with affection) caught on and kicked him out.

Check out the video.  It’s very illuminating. =)

See A Need, Fill A Need

Yes, I stole the title from the movie “Robots.”  But I just credited them, so we’re good.  It’s a powerful statement, one that begs a question…

Are people going to pay for your idea or service?

This is the very first question you need to ask yourself as an entrepreneur.  And answer it honestly because if you don’t, you’re going to spend a lot of money chasing down market share that you will never be able to capture.

Something needs to set your offering apart from the rest, otherwise it will become noise.  And people tune out noise.

When my best friend and I created our first handbag collection, we foolishly thought high quality leathers and hardware in vibrant colors would set us apart.  And if that didn’t do it, we always had our little “story” to fall back on.  Krina handbags were designed for the “thinking” woman.  So we included a penny hidden in the lining of each bag.  It was our cute little thing.  Guess what?  Nobody cared.  We loved that design element but it didn’t sell the bags.  It was different, but alas, not different enough.

Ever hear of the Butler bag?  I wasn’t a fan, because the styles didn’t do much for me. Plus, I’m too much of a handbag snob to carry a non-designer bag.  But the utility is what captured the hearts of women everywhere, proof positive that a large chunk of my target market was more concerned with function than fashion. My pennies couldn’t hold up to Jen Groover’s clever way of compartmentalizing life into a structurally-sound handbag.

C

Courtesy of www.butlerbag.com

 

 

 

 

Courtesy of www.butlerbag.com

Courtesy of www.butlerbag.com

She identified a need and created the solution.  It’s made her a raging success.  Her prices were competitive early on and she was able to claim her market share.  As time has gone on, the pricing increased but her fan base hasn’t wavered.  Kudos, Jen!

Jen Groover addressed a major pain point for women struggling for some degree of organization in their busy lives.  And that’s the name of the game.

Are You Risk-Averse Or Risk-Embracing??

I’m so charged up right now!  I have the best freaking idea and I’m so excited to work on it!!!

I LOVE channeling my inner creative spirit!  Sometimes it goes into overdrive.  It’s like I can’t stop it.  LOL, do you get the reference?  The Girl Next Door??  Elisha Cuthbert, former porn star, Emile Hirsch, her younger, sex-starved neighbor??

Anyway, big ideas usually come with equally large risks, and not all of them are financial.

For example, if you’re going to dive head-first into a new venture, is your Hubby going to freak out about piling on the debt to get your idea off the ground?  Since he only has his past experiences to draw upon, things might not look too promising for you. Crikey, am I ever going to redeem myself???

Is the risk of an ugly divorce worth all the effort?

Of course, if you’re a gambling person in need of startup funding you could always put your investment on black and roll the dice in hopes of making the rest.  It COULD work…

One defense mechanism you definitely need in your arsenal to overcome said risks is P-A-S-S-I-O-N.  Do you know why?  Passion won’t pay the bills but it’ll drive you towards getting your idea out there and perfecting it so that everyone immediately gets the value proposition.  That creates D-E-M-A-N-D.  And then follows the $$$$$.

See a need, fill a need!  Wow, I’m full of movie references today!

Ever see the movie Robots?  If you’re an inventor/innovator/entrepreneur, you should watch it.  It totally inspires you to get out there and find ways to make the world a better place!  Seriously!  How apropos for a kiddie flick.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

Courtesy of Wikipedia

My idea is fabulous because it is a game-changer!  It’s disruptive!  I had my “ah-ha” moment.  And it was AWESOME!

There has to be an observed need for an idea to gain traction.  And it can’t just exist solely for your own personal purposes.  You have to solve for pain points of the masses.  Making your own life less complicated is nice in theory but it won’t earn you any awards.  Think BIGGER!!!!

Ask the question – can my idea make lives easier?  If so, HOW?  That’s all part of the value prop, too.  And if there’s perceived value, there’s perceived benefit, both worthy of serious financial gains!

It’s such an exciting prospect…to smash out of the box (I’m imagining the Hulk now, kiddies are watching The Avengers).  But make yourself a promise…absolutely love the idea because if you don’t, nobody else will.

 

Nice To Have Or Need To Have? Don’t Count On Mom To Make The Final Call

I came across a great article on Silicon Moon about how to most effectively gauge market interest in your product or service.  The original article was posted to Venture Beat.

Key question – Does it disrupt the numbing normalcy that we’ve grown used to in our daily lives?  Because if it doesn’t, there’s no market for it.  Period.  So, pick a new hobby.  Seriously.

Courtesy of www.venturebeat.com

Courtesy of www.venturebeat.com

Have you ever heard of the Mom test? A great article on The Startup Toolkit says that you should never run an idea past your mother because in her eyes, everything her child does is fabulous, therefore she’s not in a place to poke holes in it.  And if the idea stinks, she won’t be honest with you for fear of crippling your creativity and drive.

Not the case with my mom.  She’s probably the ugliest friend I have.  She shoots holes in EVERYTHING.  It doesn’t matter that I’m her daughter.  That never stops her from voicing her opinions.  That’s pretty much the opposite of the typical motherly response.

Jeez, it would be nice if she threw me a bone now and then.  She could preserve the remaining few shreds of my self-confidence.

Here’s another interesting point…even if you have the OMG idea, if you’re not passionate about it, it’ll still be a hard sell.  Because really, if you can’t believe in your product, no matter how good it is, how can you create a need for it?

It’s difficult.  Think about it, people who are super-dedicated to their efforts have a kind of contagious enthusiasm about them.  It can make the idea seem better than it may actually be, just because they are so driven.  Don’t get me wrong…it’s not going to apply to EVERY idea out there just because someone’s excited about it.  A person can be passionate about an organic edible handbag but that doesn’t mean people are going to actually buy it (or eat it, for that matter).

Am I right?

 

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