A Thought About Startup Ideas

This week I had the great pleasure of chatting with all the Austin Techstars new class members. As usual, the Austin Techstars team did a great job of assembling world class ideas and talent to accelerate them. Every single company with which I visited has an idea that can and should work.


I was invited because I often am a mentor to a company that my skill set fits. I am never looking for the work, but I will do what I can. I like the Techstars approach and it has really gotten traction in Austin. Very classy outfit and the guy who runs it is a brilliant guy who has assembled a brilliant staff.

Put your COVID fears at rest; this was a Zoom meet up.

Which got me thinking about how one describes an idea and communicates it to others.

We have the typical pitch deck introduction, but that is for an idea with some bulk on it, some maturity — post accelerator. I am talking about more raw ideas.

The logic is essentially the same, with some small differences. Here is a suggestion for some stepping stones to touch.

 1. What industry is this idea in?

 2. Who is the customer?

 3. What alternatives does the customer currently have?

 4. What is the competition?

 5. How does this get big?

 6. What are the marketing channels? This is the one I find missing most — very undeveloped thinking.

 7. What is the revenue stream?

 8. What is the secret sauce, the moat, why is this better than the alternatives? [Sometimes it is just “execution advantage” but know that. Better mousetraps are better mousetraps.]

 9. Is this an aspirin (relieves pain of the world) or a vitamin (makes our lives better)? It can be both.

 10. How does the customer’s life change as a result of this? This is the cleanup question.

There are other questions that one might want to hear the answers to, but I am talking solely about the idea. The sponsorship and the team can wait for another question.

As I write this, I am hot off the experience of speaking to these ten companies who were selected from 8.5B other companies, so they were damn good.

Be well, amigos.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car. Do something kind this weekend. Something that will tip the world toward goodness. If you can.