How to Convince Other [Potential] Co-founders You Have the Next Big Thing

I regularly visit a site for owners of start-ups where people can post questions and get answers from others who are, or have been, in the same situation as themselves. Often I’ll see a question posted, and realize that the wrong question is being asked. That is, the question itself is valid, but the fact that it’s being asked, or the way in which it is asked, indicates that there is a more fundamental question lurking beneath the surface.

One such question was regarding an idea for a new website. The person asking the question had, at the time of this writing, asked a dozen questions related to his idea and turning into a business, the last of which was focused on the difficulties he was facing in finding a co-founder.

I went back and looked at the previous questions, and realized that there was a more fundamantal problem – he couldn’t explain clearly what his idea was, and how it would make money. He had long treatises on various aspects of his business, but he lacked a 30-second elevator pitch.

To counter that, there’s a site that makes a joke of this: So What Does Your Startup Do? where it randomly generates ideas for new businesses. While some of the ideas are funny, some odd, and others intriguing, the basics of the site is that in one sentence, you should be able to describe what your business is.

Forget the long explanations – only people hooked on your idea will bother reading them. Forget about trying to explain market demographics and complicated affiliate programs, it’s not exciting.

Try it like this:

It’s a gaming site where you can bet against your friends using Vegas-odds, with no house to lose all your money to. (Cash Poker Pools)

I didn’t explain the margins, I didn’t get into details about what happens on the site, or who would use it. I just explained in broad terms what the business is. For someone who really wants to know, I can get into the exact details about the nature of the bets, how the odds work, and where the site gets its revenues from. Most people, though, don’t care about that kind of thing.

If you really want to convince someone you’ve landed on the next big deal, make sure you can say it quickly. When they ply you for more information, make sure you can answer the questions actually asked, which are likely not the same as the ones you hoped they would ask.