Idea Execution

with Noor Siddiqui

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First Step

Learn about the first steps to take once you have an idea.

Noor Siddiqui

Co-Founder and CEO at Remedy Inc at 17, 20 under 20 Thiel Fellow

Lessons Learned

After thinking of an idea, validate your assumptions.

When you start with an idea, talk to the people who would be using it.

Don’t neglect thinking of a business model.


Lesson: Idea Execution with Noor Siddiqui

Step #1 First Step: Learn about the first steps to take once you have an idea

Once you've thought of an idea, I think the next step is to figure out how to validate it. What you think is true isn't necessarily the absolute truth of the world. For example, you have an idea for a product, the most important thing you should probably try and figure out is who would want to pay for it, or who would the users be. Whoever you think the users would be like, “moms in Nebraska would love this like app idea I have,” so you need to talk to moms in Nebraska about it.

For us, we had this idea for a collaboration tool for clinicians, and guess how we figured out whether they would want it. We talked to lots and lots of doctors. We talked to ones at UCSF, at Mayo, at Kaiser, and everyone that we could really get a hold of. We had a lot of questions around the platforms. Will patients accept the doctors wearing Google Glass? Will all these various types of people want to wear Google Glass? We put Google Glass on nurses, on physician assistants, on rehabilitation experts, on neurosurgeons, on cardiac surgeons, and every single person, so we could figure out what's the acceptance like?

We learned a lot of things. So we learned that there's a lot of just design considerations that we figured out after we realized, "Okay, this is the range of the type of provider who'd be wearing a Google Glass.” And then on the same side, on the interface that we made for experts, "Okay, this is the type of expert who is going to be looking at a video feed, or media from an operator, and this is what they're going to expect to see. How exactly do you create that interaction and what are the security requirements?"

When you're just starting out with an idea, you really just need to talk to the people who'd be using it and make sure that your intuitions about what they want are actually what they want. Probably the hardest thing, at least for me, coming into it was trying to figure out, "What exactly is the business model behind this?" I think that's something that is boring, and not exciting to do that I think people usually neglect to do much later on, especially now that there's all these applications that they don't actually make money for a long time.

And so people are like, "Okay, now I have to think of a business model.” I don't think that's the case. I think you do need to think very deeply about what are your operational expenses like, who are you going to have to hire, how much is that going to cost, how are you going to pay for that, and orienting the activities that you're doing around either figuring out how you're going to bring on team members. How are you going to attract talent, whether that's engineers, or whether that's sales people, or whether that's operations people? What do you have to do now to like, get those people interested?

And then, similarly, if that's not your most important issue, maybe your most important issue is how to attract investment. So then you have to orient yourselves around thinking like a VC, or thinking like an angel, and think about, "Okay, what does an angel need to see to like be able to give me money right now?"

I think you kind of have to think about all these aspects about whether your most important priority right now is building the product, whether the most important priority right now is getting the product in the customer's hands, whether the most important priority is like attracting an engineer to work with you, or whether your most important priority is to like attract investment to hire more engineers. So you kind of have to figure out the sequencing of this and being really deliberate and disciplined about that sequencing. It's hard and that's why startups fail, and it's why it takes a long time to build something valuable.

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