I will start with the ideation phase for PhotoPlay. We will get into monetization strategies, marketing and more, but lets start with the origin. (I do find origin super hero movies to be the best anyway)
PhotoPlay.me was registered on July 5th, 2011 with the idea that the development of mobile phones with high quality cameras would increase the amount of photo sharing. My test email to the PhotoPlay account read, “The First Social Sharing, Social Network based on Game Dynamics,” but the idea in my head behind the (poor) public pitch was, “A Twitter for photos, with game dynamics.”
Now YOU have an idea, where do you start??? Here’s 6 things I did, and what I might do different.
1. I shared my idea with Everyone. GOOD
Probably annoyingly so and this is good! Because your idea is not a million dollar idea, in fact I most likely wouldn’t give you a dollar. What I would pay for is feedback from friends family and anyone who will listen.
- No one is going to run out and steal your idea, because no one has the passion that you do.
- It will help you form an idea as they ask you questions about it.
- You will be told the idea is stupid, and that it is brilliant. Neither is right, so look for actual feedback to continue your search.
There were were social networks before Facebook, touch screen phones before the iPhone, burger restaurants before McDonalds. The secret sauce is execution of a validated idea.
2. I did a mediocre job at researching competition. Bad
I get scared. I don’t do the research I need to because I get scared that this “brilliant” idea I came up with is already being done. I’m afraid its being done better, faster, and by a bigger firm with millions of dollars in VC funding, leaving me hopelessly searching for that next “brilliant” idea.
Here’s the truth, your idea can be brilliant but like a rough draft of an essay it needs revisions. Go out and see what is available. At this point in PhotoPlay's growth it's competition on the B2B side are firms like Strutta, Wildfire, and others, and B2C competition is anything from Pinterest to the Instagram app. As I’ve developed a better understand of the photo sharing industry, I can better understand what I can bring to the table that is a unique value proposition.
3. I did NOT validate my idea. BAD
Unfortunately I didn’t stumble upon "The Lean Startup by Eric Reiss" until probably October 2011, but what I needed to do was build a prototype as quickly as I could and share it with my potential customers. What I ended up doing after reading the book was set up a Tumblr account (great blogging platform that you’re reading this on now). I couldn’t have people just share photos but I could try out the idea of a contest with the photos by posting the contest theme and having people submit photos to my blog. This TOTALLY changed the focus of the site due to its popularity. Lesson - read the book, validate your ideas.
4. I bought a domain and set up an email. GOOD
Domain Fees ~$7.00. Feeling like I was making progress PRICELESS. In addition to feeling super cool about owning the domain, it give me something to call my project to make it tangible, and gave me a more official communication medium. (helping with #1)
At the time I was in Navi Mumbai, India and hoping to obtain local outsourcing, I tried to make connections with skilled talent to no avail. This left me to turn to oDesk.com, a freelancer website to contract or contribute work in an unbelievable amount of areas.
5. I did NOT immediately incorporate a company. GOOD
In the past as soon as I feel like I had fully formed my idea I would run out at spend $200+ on getting my LLC and Tax EIN number. As my very wise grandfather has always told me, an LLC is the cheapest form of insurance for a company so that if you run into legal trouble with the business, the opposing party can only sue for the assets of the company and not personal assets.
That said, until you have done #2 (validate your idea) and are required to enter into any contract, save the money for something more useful.
6. **How will this make money?
Ask yourself this question important - but this blog post was focused on getting you started and not about validating the business potential of an idea. We can spend a lot more time going into that, but PhotoPlay as the exploration of
**I currently have a full time job and was comfortable starting PhotoPlay validating the gap I saw in a growing “social photo sharing” space with a vision of future monetization. If you are in the position of needing $ right away:
- Find a product or service you can charge for from day one.
- You probably should check out Linkedin and network your way into a job to support you as you build your business.
Today’s question: What other important questions should you ask, and actions should you take when just starting an idea??