How to Determine if Your Next Great Idea is any Good?

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

May 29

One of the tests I get startups to do is a thought experiment: what if your great new product/idea/service had already been around for centuries? Would it be useful in your view? That is, don’t look ahead, look back.

Say my name is Chad Hurley (or Steve Chen) and I came to you with an idea a few years ago, “Hey, brother/sister, I want to start a new service called YouTube where regular folks can upload shaky, low quality, short videos for free. I have no revenue model, and I may get sued out of existence by record labels and Hollywood studios because people are sure to upload tons of copyrighted music and film. What do you think? Go for it?”

You would probably


said, “Prof Bruce, you’re crazy. If greedy lawyers don’t put you out of business instantly, the bandwidth charges alone will kill you in a couple of months. DON’T DO IT! Find something else more useful to do with your life.”

If I followed your advice, Chad and Steve would not have sold YouTube to Google for $1.65 billion in 2006. Hmm.

Now what if you did that thought experiment before you gave me your opinion? Maybe you might have said, “Wow, imagine if YouTube had existed at Mozart’s last concert, or when Paul Dirac was awarded the Nobel prize in physics. Come to think of it, how cool would it have been to have a video of Jesus of Nazareth giving his 

Sermon on the Mount? Wow, yes, Chad, go for it!”

@ profbruce @ quantum_entity

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About the Author

Bruce is an entrepreneur/real estate broker/developer/coach/urban guru/keynote speaker/Sens founder/novelist/columnist/peerless husband/dad.