There’s no such thing as a million dollar idea.
Only a million dollar execution.
A twelve year old could come up with twitter. The idea of publicly SMSing people isn’t really ‘out there’. What a twelve year old couldn’t do is make it into a global phenomenon. I’ve met Jack Dorsey, its founder. Shook his hand. Incredible guy. He walked into a business pitch, tattooed and pierced, and charged one of the investors’ credit cards as a proof of concept for his payment processor Square. Enviable balls. That’s the sort of person who takes an idea into a global phenomenon. One day I hope to be like that.
A year ago I pitched an idea for some software and got first place, a wad of cash and an iPad. Actually turning it into something viable is something I’m still faking-till-I-make-it. They don’t teach you anything about business in an Engineering undergrad. And only the most superficial glance at law. Running a business solo requires you to be the engineer, accountant, lawyer, purchasing manager, marketing, and a gamut of other positions. It’s overwhelming really. You need to have the acumen of at least 5 or 6 different professions. I’m versatile, but damn. You also need to be personable and deft at convincing others to hand you money. They also don’t teach you that.
Not too long ago I had a chat with someone who wanted to work in the Video Games industry. He had no proficiency in programming, art, or any sort of technical skill that goes into the production of a game beyond QA. He wanted to be the ‘ideas guy’. He’s not the first person like this I’ve run into, but he was by far the most stubborn about it. People like this seem to think that the producers et al are completely incapable of ideas themselves and need to be told what to do. It’s stupid because if anyone knows how feasable an idea is it’s the person with advanced knowledge of that skill. There’s no tangible value to just an idea and he will never be hired because every company is looking for people solve problems (re: how to implement an idea), not people who come up with them.
Never mind that the games industry is crazy and the reason all those offices are stocked with snacks and cots is because they expect you to live there. Those bean bag chairs don’t look so cool when they’re the closest thing to family you’ve seen in a week. I’ve pulled 16 hour coding days before and they’re soul crushing.
I’ve seen great ideas fail and terrible ideas succeed. The successful ones usually have a wad of cash and great marketing behind them. The only thing consistent is that in either, nobody was ever hired as an ‘ideas guy’. In fact, I’d say marketing that idea is the most important aspect, because it’s marketing that triggers that desire to buy. If you can’t encourage (lots of) people to want your product then you’re DOA. Which is what’s happening with Nintendo. 70% sales forecast reduction in their flagship product. Holey moley! I’ve never seen that before. They went from distant first to distant last. I hope that guy isn’t trying to get a job there. Or maybe he’s their only hope.
I hope Ford Motor Company likes my idea for flying laser cars