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I love being in the start-up game. Stressful, lonely, difficult and everything between… there are many negatives, but these are significantly outweighed by the positives. One of my greatest pleasures is having others pitch me their start-up ideas. Doesn’t matter who they are, an old corporate colleague, someone I meet at a conference or even a seasoned entrepreneur, I could listen to ideas all day. For those serious about their idea I’ve found myself many times asking for five things in order to help or guide them forward. These are the first tasks I undertake when getting serious about a business idea. Before you get deep on business plans, brand identities or go to market strategies answer these simple five things and you’ll be at a better start-point to bring that killer idea to life.

1. Craft an elevator pitch:

  • You should be able to explain the idea in a couple of sentences to someone who knows nothing. It is a tough challenge. As Mark Twain said “I didn’t have time to write a short note, so I wrote a long one instead”.
  • For Cuplin we have – Cuplin lets friends play matchmaker for their single friends by drawing potential matches from within 3-degrees of separation on Facebook to connect two single friends with an Opening Line. Being introduced by a mutual friend means there is a better prospect of potential couples having things in common.
  • Or in a Tweet – Cuplin is a matchmaking app. A paradigm shift in dating – rather than the singleton putting themselves forward, their friends do it for them.

2. Explain how it’ll make money:

  • Again in a few sentences you have to show how the idea makes money (and an ad-revenue model generally won’t cut it).
  • For Cuplin we have – The primary source of income will be from in-app purchases. In-app purchases will be made possible using Cuplin Coins that can both be earned (via participation) and/or purchased. Coins can be used for example to see unlimited profiles for a day or to boost a profile.

3. Define the target audience:

  • Who is the audience who you initially want to adopt your product/service? You may have an idea that expands/crosses many audience personas, but at the outset you need to focus on one niche group – be single minded. These are the people who will prove your idea both works and is scalable. Be ready to have sleepless nights about how they behave and what behaviors you need to change.
  • For Cuplin – Couples with a single friend they want to help out/support in their dating endeavors.

4. Give it a name:

  • Names can change, but you need to start somewhere. Avoid generic/well used names, nouns or verbs – something with a story or meaning is obviously good to have.
  • For Cuplin – We’ve mashed together the words Cupid and Links to create a word that sounds like Coupling!

5. Start blogging:

  • A blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter handle etc etc … it doesn’t matter where you say it, but you have to start articulating your view of the world somewhere. Constant metronomic updates and comments on the world you are playing in and wanting to change/disrupt. It’s good discipline to ensure you deeply understand your industry and audience AND it’s also a good central point to which you can direct people. Somewhere for people to find out more about you before you’ve built anything. You can also build a community of followers who can then give you feedback as you develop your product.
  • For Cuplin – we started on Twitter (@GoCuplin) talking about first dates and failed online-dating experiences. We built a following of almost 7k people and over time we’ve used this community to feedback on the app itself, videos and ads we’ve made as well as to promote our service too.

Whatever you’re up to, I wish you the very best of luck and shout if I can help in any way.