IdeaMensch is a community created for people who bring ideas to life. Instead of celebrating how an idea is formed, IdeaMensch explores the journey entrepreneurs embark on in order to insure their ideas succeed. An equal-opportunity idealist and founder of IdeaMensch, Mario Schulzke built this community around a simple mantra: “I don’t judge ideas. I just care what you are doing to bring it to life.”
IdeaMensch took over 1871 last Thursday as part of a four month road trip across America where they will recruit local entrepreneurs to speak about the process of bringing ideas to life in 48 states.
Here are some of the tips shared by those invited to speak at the stop in Chicago:
1. Start off with a personal pain
The founders of Code Academy dreamt of a physical program that would accelerate their learning while providing instruction and mentorship in a fun and engaging environment. When they couldn’t find one they built it. “We wanted to learn to code because we wanted to built our own solutions instead of just being business guys in the middle who needed to hire developers to build our ideas,” said Mike McGee, the co-founder of Code Academy.
2. Be passionate
Scratching your own itch is a great way to bring a simple idea you are passionate about to life. “If you are not passionate about it no one else will be,” said Seyi Fabode, the Founder of Power2Switch. “If you truly believe in what you want to do, you can make it happen,” agrees Saya Hillman, founder of Mac ‘n Cheese Productions.
3. Use money saving tactics
Code Academy had no marketing budget when they first launched. Instead, they used social media to secure their first class of 35 people. To help them successfully bootstrap they had people pay upfront for the classes. This allowed them to pay the rent and allocate the necessary educational resources. Hillman recommends, “staying skinny,” this means being careful to avoid unnecessary financial or mental stress when brining an idea on a budget to life.
4. Just do it
You have to realize that there will never be a perfect time to bring your idea to life. You don’t have to be the best or the brightest—you just have to go for it. “There is no difference between you and people are doing neat things. They are not smarter than anyone else, they just decided to show up,” said Ethan Austin, co-founder of GiveForward.
5. Add value
“A lot of people have done amazing, intelligent work before you. Don’t feel like you are starting with a blank slate—go ahead and steal that idea but add value,” Hillman said. Work with what you have: this means always accepting what you are given and going with it.
4. Encourage people with experiences
“People don’t buy your business, they buy you,” Fabode said. Keeping the focus on people, not profits, helps an idea attract a loyal following. If you can help people make responsible decisions, that’s even better. “If it’s not about helping people in some capacity, it’s not a good idea,” said Victor Saad, founder of The Leap Year Project.
6. Listen to your customers
Stop looking at revenue, get rid of assumptions and always ask questions. “If we are going to survive it’s not about our ideas. Listen to your customers instead—they are the ones who tell you what you should be doing,” Austin said. Take the time to understand why something is the way it is and strive to make it better.
7. Know your villain
Focus on what you want to destroy; whether it is something you want to remove from your personal life, like a personal pain, or a way you can add value to the consumer’s everyday life. “I have to be reminded all the time what the problem is that I am solving,” Saad said. The worse the villain the better the story and the success of your idea will be.