4 Questions to Get From Back-of-Napkin to Reality

I come into contact with many types of early, high growth companies. 

As I’ve advised and mentored these juggernauts, I get to hear the excitement and passion that every founder has upon identifying the next big idea.

With the new year now here, there will surely be an exciting new crop of ideas ready to blast off.

My early meetings with founders usually start with the same four questions that I have seen consistently add structure and focus to their early work. 

Answering these “simple” initial questions will help founders seeking to validate their idea or exploring a pivot.

In celebration of the new year, I offer these questions to help founders get further faster in bringing their idea to life.

1.    What is the customer unmet need?
New companies are (hopefully) formed to address a pain point for a customer. It does not matter if you are targeting a B2B or B2C audience. Only until you know the answer to this, can you address whether your idea has merit. 

2.    Is there another company delivering against the unmet need?
So, you’ve identified that there is a problem to solve. Great!

Is any other company solving for this problem or even positioned to “sound” like they are trying to fill this gap? The output here is a competitive analysis to analyze your offering against competitors and if there’s opportunity to re-position your idea before it becomes too late. 

Which leads me to the next question.

3.    If there are others that are positioned to answer your problem, how can you adjust to capture your fair share or carve up your own lane?

This goes squarely to your differentiated offering (aka Unique Selling Proposition). Can you adjust by audience, market position, messaging, or price structure among others?

4.    How will you make money profitably?
Seems pretty important, right? 

Many new founders get clouded in excitement of their idea and will proceed pursuing the perceived opportunity without doing some math against the prior three questions.  

These four questions are not by any means meant to be the only questions. I offer these to serve as a litmus test for new ideas and create a go/no-go point before it gets too late.

What do you think? What other questions have you found to be helpful? 

Are there examples you’d like to share that further illustrates the power of these basic but important questions?
Todd Feldman
Founder, The Rocket Factory