Within 10 minutes of speaking to founders, I can tell if they made it through the “idea maze” or not. The founders that haven’t typically aren’t ready to take money from investors yet. “It has become popular in the startup community to say things like “execution is everything” and “ideas don’t matter”. But the reality is that ideas do matter, just not in the narrow sense in which startup ideas are popularly defined. Good startup ideas are well developed, multi-year plans that contemplate many possible paths according to how the world changes. Balaji Srinivasan calls this the idea maze:
A good founder is capable of anticipating which turns lead to treasure and which lead to certain death. A bad founder is just running to the entrance of (say) the “movies/music/filesharing/P2P” maze or the “photosharing” maze without any sense for the history of the industry, the players in the maze, the casualties of the past, and the technologies that are likely to move walls and change assumptions.
Most people can answer the first 5 questions about their business or industry, but get lost in the maze at questions 11-14! How do you make it through the maze? I want to hear from founders how they made it through and other founders please ask where you are getting lost so we can help!