Mitch had called and set up the time to talk about what I thought was just a single business idea he had. He said he might have some other people show up if they had any business ideas to discuss, but what we found when we got there was really inspiring.
1. Mitch had a business partner. I personally have found over the past years that venture success increases dramatically when the founder is not alone. It is always good to have someone else to bounce ideas off of, brainstorm with, and to share the workload of a startup. Mitch and Paul were both there, and both enthusiastic about getting some feedback about their long list of ideas.
2. They had 15 ideas! Not 1. 15! I had expected to be pitched about one business idea and probably be shown a somewhat complete business plan by someone who was very stuck on that one idea. Nope. Graham and I asked them to pick the best one and start with that – and then go down the list one by one. They did, and we ended up with (in my opinion, at least, ) 3 product ideas very worth pursuing.
3. They had a prototype of one product! And it was being used at the student center – holy customer validation, Batman! When the time came to talk about it, Mitch ran outside our room, got it, and brought it in. Very cool – and it just happened that I already knew some people selling similar products and could hook them up.
4. They listened. Graham and I didn’t gush over each idea. Most we thought wouldn’t be feasible, for one reason or another. They listened to that feedback. I had asked Graham to come along specifically to talk about what it was like at Startup Weekend Indy for Grabachat and in the formative days of Pypline. They listened to that. Before we left, I outlined the early stages of a venture, the Lean Startup process, and the Business Model Canvas for them – introducing them to the world of Steve Blank and Alexander Osterwalder. They listened.
Great job Mitch and Paul. I see good things in your startup future.