I always wanted to create an automatic cat food dispenser. One that would release the food at a predetermined time if you were late or away for the night. Perhaps it could even play a recording of your voice - “Here, Kitty Kitty”, “Good boy Marmalade.” Then maybe you could view your furry friend scoffing it all up via a webcam on your phone? Great. I just Googled it, it’s been done. It’s called Feed and Go.
Bugger. Turns out everyone has a story of how they missed out on a great idea. I recently met someone who had said no to Angry Birds… oops. Apparently there’s "never been a better time to be an Entrepreneur” so maybe now is the time to follow your dreams, tread the road of uncertaincy and try your hand at developing the latest multi-billion dollar idea - people say, it’s better to try and fail than to never try. Well, I hate failing, so I really try not to.
Becoming a founder or an investor isn’t something you should do because the “the timing is right” or because it feels “like a perfect moment to give it a go”. I do wonder how people with vast amounts of intelligence come to the conclusion when waking up one morning that they’re going to make their fortune by developing an app.
Having an awesome goal is not the same as having a decent plan. It’s the same with trading, putting £10,000 on a currency pair and expecting to walkaway with a return isn’t a plan most would consider commercially sound. Some people do very well just investing in the stuff they use themselves; Starbucks, BA, M&S. Others decide to back obscure companies because their stock bounced off a 50 day moving average - sure their approach is different but they have two things in common - market experience and a strategy.
I trade in startups. Both my own companies and new ventures I discover and choose to invest in. I admit, ideas are a highly risky commodity - and yes, you’re still at the mercy of a market, but I firmly believe, if a unique concept is brilliantly executed, that you can make a worthwhile return. So, how do you get a great idea to stick? Truth is no one really knows, there is no magic formula.
Launching a startup is a bit like releasing a viral marketing campaign - there are a number of things you have to do well - but in the end some fly and some just bomb. In this column I will share the good and bad decisions I’ve made and share some of the trials and tribulations of running and investing in the startups that I think might make a mark.
Feel free to chip in and tweet me @jamesolden, it would be good to help each other out.