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First, Find Your Dream Catchers!

4191430473_9b466b821d_bAre you surrounding yourself as early as possible with people who believe in your idea and who believe in you?

As your idea starts making the transition out of your creative mind, it hits the inertia of reality. The more you push your idea forward, the harder reality pushes back. Overcoming Newton’s good ol’ Third Law can quickly use up all your energy. You can’t do it yourself.

Before going out to find co-founders or building a team, first find your “Dream Catchers”. Dream Catchers are special people. They “grok” what you’re wanting to create – they get your why, your passion, your motivation, even if you don’t yet have all the words to clearly convey your idea.

Dream Catchers do not have any commercial interest in your idea. They are not your business partners nor your customers nor your investors. If you ask them to take a role in your project, they will turn out not to be the right people.

In a recent business project, I attracted a group of smart and talented people to help me through the first steps of clarifying my idea. It worked great until I started asking them if they wanted to become co-founders or partners with me – and they basically said no. Each one had perfectly reasonable motivations for declining, however after asking them, the magic was broken and they started drifting away. I made the mistake of confusing Dream Catchers with partners.

Dream Catchers are as fragile as they are precious. When you try to put structure around them or ask them to make commitments to you, this breaks the magic and they will disappear.

Dream Catchers are first and foremost interested in you, not just your idea. They are your sounding board, helping to expand your idea and find the right way to convey it. They can connect you to people and resources which take you to the next step. They can be your cheerleaders, giving you energy when you are down. They want you to succeed. Because Dream Catchers understand your Golden Circle, they practice the Golden Rule.

The more Dream Catchers you have around you, the more momentum you gain. This new-found momentum powers you through the inertia of reality and gives your idea the space it needs.

Therefore, my recommendation to startup founders is this: before you go hunting for co-founders or investors, go find your Dream Catchers.


I had the pleasure of participating in a Startup Canada #StartupChats last Friday April 3, 2015 on the topic of Seniorpreneurs. Being 50+ myself, and working with several tech startup entrepreneurs who are also 50+, this subject was of personal interest.

Here is the Storify digest of this Twitter conversation:


5312435881_19982faa7c_bRead in a startup forum I manage: “How do you answer when a VC asks you in an interview ‘Why are you the best person in the world to execute your idea?'”

I believe the question asked by the venture capital investor is stupid and naive. (And I know the firm who asked the question.)

Stupid, because the question is formulaic and bland. It’s almost a “shibboleth” – the VC is expecting a certain answer, a secret password that will get you past the gate and to the next level.

Naive, because it assumes that the Silicon Valley stereotype of a brilliant, monomaniacal and borderline autistic founder is the only one that works.

If you truly believe you are the best person to execute this idea, then you’re doomed. Any business cannot survive with just one person. It takes a team of committed people and a big dollop of luck: being in the right place, at the right time, and with the right preparation. The problem is that you cannot know what is the right place, the right time and the right preparation.

Believing that the founder is the best person in the world to execute their idea is a symptom of Silicon Valley hubris. It blinds you to what you do not know about what you do not know about yourself and the world around you.

Silicon Valley does not have a monopoly in imagination, creativity and innovation. Actually, I wish there was more humility in Silicon Valley. The ego of the place is ripe for disruption. But then again, when billions of dollars are at stake, humility tends to go by the wayside.

Why would the investor ask this question, especially when then entrepreneur knows that a good chunk of the accelerator participants are disqualified on the spot for not answering it to the investor’s satisfaction?

I hope if you are asked this question of a VC, that you don’t try to project an ego-driven caricature of who you really are. Answer directly: there exists no such perfect person. Challenge them on the assumptions and hypothesis behind the question. Turn humility into strength.

All you can do is work hard, constantly challenge your assumptions, be open to input, and stay true to your what and your why.

I don’t know if this is the magic answer to the VC’s question, but it is the truth.


For more information:

Indirectly related, but interesting:

The Decision Trap by Roger Martin in HBR


Image credit – Pascal via Flickr. https://flic.kr/p/96rC76 Used under Creative Commons licence


I’m working with an established business in which the large majority of their income comes from technology consulting and services, however they have developed a software which they use in conjunction with their service.

They are considering shifting their business model from 80%/20% service/product, to the opposite. This is a major decision, which requires a deep level of analysis to consider.

After a recent work session with them, I decided to map out the “problem space”: a series of questions looking at all the different aspects to consider in determining the transition strategy. It’s not complete but it is a good start to exploring the problem.

20150222 Transitioning from service to product business v2.mm


(link to PDF: 20150222 Transitioning from service to product business v2.mm )

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What’s The Hurry?

6738872293_e3782f1306_bI often meet startup entrepreneurs who passionately believe they’ve found THE billion-dollar idea and who are anxious to launch their web site NOW!

The problem is that although they think the value they offer is obvious and people will be lining up as soon as their site goes live, they have not done the hard work to figure out what will get people to not just look, but to buy.

Take the time it takes to explore the customer space. Launch only when you’ve nailed down the purchase decision trigger: the right fit, the right place and the right time when the right people recognize you have the right solution to a critical issue they’re experiencing in the moment, and who decide to buy right here and right now.

It’s not first to market, it’s first to profit.

For more information

Image credit: Chrlster via Flickr
Direct link: https://flic.kr/p/bgutXk
Used under Creative Commons licence