Embarking on a journey to uncover the next big idea? Don’t fret, because your big idea doesn’t have to be a billion-dollar idea! This week, we discussed how to get to your Eureka moment. Here are some strategies and guiding principles to pave your way to that groundbreaking idea:
“An idea is an idea, an opportunity is an idea that you’ve vetted.”
Colin C. Campbell
1. Think Simple: Not every innovative idea needs to be complex. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the ones that create the most significant impact.
2. Look for Opportunities in Unexpected Places: Remember that great ideas often come from addressing small pain points. Can you think of a way to improve an everyday inconvenience for a group of people?
3. Take Your Time: A valuable business won’t be built in a day. Allow yourself the time and space to think critically and find innovative solutions.
4. Passion Isn’t the Only Ingredient: While passion can be a driving force, your big idea might stem from something you’re good at or an area overlooked by others.
5. Analyze Existing Businesses: By observing what other companies are doing, you can gain insights, inspiration, and figure out how to differentiate yourself.
6. Spot the Gaps: Instead of following the herd, think about what other businesses aren’t doing. This could be where your golden opportunity lies.
7. Visit Innovation Centers: These hubs of creativity and entrepreneurship can provide invaluable advice and may even spark a new idea you hadn’t previously considered.
8. Iterate and Improve: Once you have an idea, don’t settle. Keep refining and evolving your concept to stay ahead of the curve.
9. Full Steam Ahead: Once your idea takes shape and you believe in its potential, commit to it wholeheartedly. Dive in with enthusiasm and energy.
10. Build and Expand: A good idea can often lead to other related ideas. As you progress, think about how you can expand or diversify your initial concept.
11. Seek Your Purpose: More than just profitability, your idea should resonate with your personal “why.” What drives you? What greater purpose does your idea serve?
12. Make It Enjoyable: The journey to your big idea should be as rewarding as the destination. Ensure you’re enjoying the process, and you’ll find that creativity flows much more naturally.
In the end, remember that the journey to the big idea is as unique as the innovator behind it. Embrace your individual path and let these guidelines inspire and steer you towards your next venture. Listen to the full conversation above!
- Read the Transcript
Getting to the Big Idea – SE EP118
Welcome to Startup Club, almost 1 million members strong. Today’s show is how to get the big idea. How do you get that big idea? Uh, we’ve had a long summer, great summer, but it’s about that time of year when we’re starting to get back to work. Isn’t that right, Michele? Yes. I think we’ve been working really hard and I know many of us is one is the time of year where we really ramp up so that we can have.
A really great Q3 and Q4. Absolutely. And you’re listening to Serial Entrepreneur Secrets Revealed.
We have, we talk about ideas and how do we come up with the ideas? What is it that we can do to figure out which ideas can actually make sense? And so what are some of the [00:01:00] characteristics of those ideas and some of the ways that we should position ourselves for those ideas? Michele, coming up with that next big idea.
Oh, yeah. Is there a time that you can remember a story that you want to share with us where you came up with an idea and it either worked out or it didn’t work out? And that’s what we want from the audience as well. If you’re in the audience and you had come up with an idea and it worked out, we want to hear about that and how you came up with that idea and why you came up with that idea.
And then if you’re in the audience, you come up with an idea and it didn’t work out. Come on stage, share that story with us. We want to hear from you because we’re just trying to crack that code. We’re trying to figure out what it is that makes a startup successful and how to increase the chances and the odds of success.
Michele, do you want to kick it off with the first story? Yeah, absolutely. But first I want to tell everyone we’re going to start inviting people up real quickly to the stage. So [00:02:00] please don’t hesitate to raise your hand here shortly. And also, um, if you can at the very bottom of the screen, there’s a little square with an up arrow, if you could share that in the clubhouse, we’d be very grateful.
So others know that this session has began. So I’m going to jump right into a big idea, but I’m I’m going to, I’m going to say that a little bit differently. Okay. Um, uh, the best ideas that I think I’ve experienced or had are not always like, oh my gosh, you know, it’s like, you know, chat GTP or, you know, electric cars.
I think for most of us, Where we get the most momentum in our businesses is by continually improving and incrementing, you know, listening to the customers and moving things forward, right? Finding out what really works and [00:03:00] what problems there are to solve. It doesn’t have to be, you know, you’re launching a rocket to the moon here.
So I know it says big ideas, but. Sometimes the little things are actually the things that move you to that path and to the big success. So, you know, for my story, I’m going to talk about an e commerce business, um, we run. We took over, um, it’s a cat e commerce website. And the company, you know, had amazing social media presence, lots of potential.
And, um, you know, the whole team was really focused on just doing lots of, you know, kind of little, little, like it’s, it’s about cats. So like little cat stuff, inexpensive cats, because they were really of the mindset, Oh, people don’t want to buy, you know, spend a lot of money on their cats. Okay. But, you know, I’m I knew that wasn’t true.
I have cats and I was continuously looking for a specific [00:04:00] item and I wanted it to be quality and I wanted it to look good in my house. Right? I didn’t want some ugly carpet thing. So what we did is we worked with the factory and manufacturer. Gosh, it took at least nine months to come up with a prototype for a very Okay.
aesthetically pleasing cat tree. And it’s very, um, you know, straightforward. Let’s say, I don’t want to say simple, but some simplistic, not busy, more elegant and design. And then again, you know, everybody was so afraid, like, oh my gosh, nobody’s going to pay 325, you know, us dollars for that. But, you know, I think we pretty much proved them wrong.
So. You know, I’m here to tell you from the businesses that I’ve been in that your next big idea could be just sitting right in front of you. It could be something that you think, gosh, I just wish this was different or somebody keeps telling you there’s a mistake about. So the [00:05:00] net, what I’m saying here is listen to your intuition.
But back it up, you know, with some research, test it first and talk to your mentors. And more importantly, talk to your customers. A lot of people fail to do that. It’s crazy to think that, but I know we’ve all been victim of that. So talk to your customers, look at what are the big problems right in front of you and go for it.
Back to you, Colin. Yeah. I love how you sort of hit it right at it at the park with You know, focusing on the problems, so they don’t have to be big problems. Um, in fact, uh, the book that is being published, Start, Scale, Exit, Repeat, chapter one is titled Ideas Are Everywhere. And we, we, we get into this topic, uh, for new startups.
You know, where do you position yourself? How do you come up [00:06:00] with the next big idea? And you just, you reminded me of a story, Michele, that’s in the book about how I used to hate traveling and going to hotel rooms. And I, Michele and I, we run, we run many companies currently in an incubator. And we also ran a company called Dot Club, which was sort of a micro global brand, it was an alternative to com, net, and org.
So we traveled all over the world, including like China 13 times. I mean, it was insane. So I began to hate hotel rooms. But I loved, um, the experience. of a vacation rental. The problem is when I would book a vacation rental, I can’t sleep that night. The beds are hard. The cookware is horrible. It was just a bad experience.
The cleanliness just wasn’t there. So, when we launched a [00:07:00] real estate business in Fort Lauderdale called Escape Club, Uh, we designed a concept around combining hotels, sort of that hotel cleanliness, the hotel quality inside a vacation rental. So now every one of our homes are great vacation experiences.
We have 19 properties. Uh, every home has its own, uh, activities and whatnot, but it has also has the Weston Heavenly, uh, beds. It has the Pottery Barn cookware. It’s designed by, we have a designer who worked for Disney World. So they’re all themed as well, and, and, and very nicely designed. We’ve combined the experience with the hotel quality, and this really was inspired just from because I hated hotel rooms, and I hated vacation rentals, and I thought, if I don’t like this, and I want to travel this way, then other [00:08:00] people must want to travel this way, and so we put that together in the company.
You know, thankfully, it’s doing very well. In fact, the key ingredient of Airbnb are reviews. And because of our formula, we have a 4. 98 reviews on average on all of our properties. So that’s the first thing to think about is how do you solve a problem and when you’ve done that, you might begin to think about, okay, there is a problem here, but am I passionate about that?
Now, look, I know I’m not going to change the world when it comes to these, these vacation rentals. But I do know that I’m going to enable a family to have a phenomenal vacation. I’m going to give them an opportunity to do that. And it’s a vacation that I would enjoy as well. In fact, Michele and I often visit some of these places and just stay there as [00:09:00] well.
Uh, and enjoy the… Uh, house with the pool, whatever it is, you know, enjoy it. And, uh, do I have a passion for it? Yes, I absolutely do. I, I believe in it. But like you said, Michele, it doesn’t always have to be, like, this is my number one passion in life, and therefore I’m going to do that. Like, for instance, for me, my number one passion might be, it’s, well, I guess it is dogs and, I was going to say King Charles Spaniels dogs and, uh, and wine.
Well, I don’t own a wine company, but I do own, I, I am a major shareholder in a dog company. But that being said. It doesn’t have to be like that as well. It can be something smaller. What are your, what are your thoughts on that one? Yeah, I mean, that, it’s an interesting thing, right? I know when I was younger, I would just sit and think, gosh, if I could just think of something really, really good.
If I could just think of something that will, like, change everybody’s life, and that can be, you know. [00:10:00] A unicorn when I was young, actually, I probably said a millionaire, right? But a unicorn. And then, you know, with maturity and reality and, and talking to lots of other successful people, I realized, you know, the steps to this and Colin wrote a lot about this in his new book, start skill X, a repeat coming out soon, the steps to wealth.
Take many forms and, and one of them can be stepping into successful projects one after another and not just saying, Oh my gosh, I have to be a unicorn right now. So, you know, for me, I love working in small businesses and growing them and really just growing that value and then going on to the next business to start.
For me, that’s been a very much a way to, um, you know, grow wealth and grow business. And I know Colin, you’re the king of this, so you can elaborate more on stepping into this. [00:11:00] Yeah, Michele, I’m actually perusing the book, the first chapter. Uh, I’m gonna read you a quote, and you have to tell me who said it.
It’s almost impossible to force yourself to come up with a new idea. More likely, you’ll stumble across it, but take the time to develop it and find solutions. Who said that, Michele? I think I might have. It was you. It was definitely you. Uh, and it’s just interesting working in an incubator all the time.
We’re always trying to ideate whether it’s within our company or ideate new companies or we have people coming into our incubator and they want help with ideation. As well, in fact, I was just talking about this exact topic this morning with my daughter, and she was saying, well, you know, how do I, how do I take my idea to the next level?
And, you know, one of those things is joining an incubator, and if you can get yourself or surrounded by others, and sometimes there’s even ideate, like, I know that the Allen Levin Center [00:12:00] at NSU, where I speak at, they have four sessions. They have an ideate, an incubate, an accelerate. And a post accelerate, and by the way, they’re all free.
They’re all free. Just if you, um, if you search Colin C. Campbell Forbes, we just came out with two articles on seven or eight ways that you can get absolutely free support for your startup. And one of them is these free incubators or free cohorts. Go into those, join them. They’re free. They have an ID8 session.
Uh, look at your local university. Check with them. Google it. I think you could generally get your information on Google. But if you’re in the South Florida area, the Allen Levand Center is excellent, and you should consider signing up to one of those sessions. They do more than just help you. They bring in experts.
Um, uh, they bring in experts, and they also can sometimes make [00:13:00] connections for funding as well. Uh, let me tell you another story that I have in the book. There were some friends of mine, uh, we were traveling to Ukraine, we have an office there, IT development firm, and we were sitting at a dacha. A dacha is like a, a farm with a little house on it, and we were having a barbecue, and we were under, you know, underneath a, a tarp, and we’re sitting in this dacha, and the president of the company that, um, that we, it was back in 19, it was back, sorry, back in 2006.
And the vice president, I guess I was still CEO then, but the vice president was with me and he and I would complain about having to find a taxi in these cities we’d fly in and we just sometimes would spend half an hour to an hour just trying to get a taxi to come to our location [00:14:00] to pick us up. It was frustrating.
So we said, why don’t we develop an app where you can track the taxi, you click the button, it brings the taxi to you, and you can track it on a GPS? And we called that app My Yellow Button. Now, at the time, we had a development firm, a side firm as well, that was developing video games. And we went back, and the team, I guess, they liked the idea, but they said, Well, let’s just finish these video games first.
The fact of the matter is, you can have the best idea in the world, but if you don’t act on them, you’re gonna be stuck in the mud. And had we acted on that, I’m not saying we would have been Uber, you know, I mean, there’s a lot more goes into something like this, but we were out with the idea before Uber, we even registered a domain name, you know, we started to take some actions, but we didn’t follow through.
It just wasn’t a priority. No one was focused on it. We had to get that next game out or whatever it was that we were working on. So I want [00:15:00] you to think about that too, is that when you do get that idea. You’ve got to take action, and that action can happen very, very quickly. You don’t need to sit around.
You can moonlight. You can do it while you’re making income at another job as well. And there was the problem. And there was obviously a company, two companies, I guess, Lyft and Uber, and Didi as well and China and a few other companies who got in that space and solved that problem. Are there problems in your life that you can see?
Are there problems in your industry? That’s another good one, too, is if you’re working, I always say to a lot of entrepreneurs that sell their company, if they don’t have another company lined up already or they haven’t started one, stick around at your existing company. It’s so much easier to see opportunities when you’re in a company or when you’re in an industry.
Then it is if you’re, if you’re not, if you’re just sitting at home, it’s a lot easier to, uh, to think of ideas or [00:16:00] solve problems or identify bottlenecks in a particular industry if you’re actually actively engaged in it. And that even comes for, that even comes with those who are. Running their own startup today.
I’m not suggesting you take your eye off the ball. You got to focus on the startup. You got to focus on the core, but the fact of the matter is, I was able to start 12 or 13 companies. Let me just let me see, show you how this worked back in 1993, right out of graduating, right out of out of college, started a software rental business.
That business was outlawed one year later with the NAFTA, the free trade agreement, but we had started a BBS at the time. And, uh, we had built up a membership with that BBS. We launched the BBS and the members grew pretty quick. In fact, it became the second largest BBS in Canada [00:17:00] and the largest social BBS.
BBS is a bulletin board service. It’s a way people connected before the internet. Uh, and then we saw demand for the internet because we launched an internet module and we saw demand for it. We couldn’t afford both companies. We literally shut down the BBS and launched the internet company. While at the internet company…
We launched a company, uh, called 2COWS, uh, which was a software download site. Today it’s over a half billion dollar company. Uh, while at Internet Direct, uh, SaskTel, that’s a Saskatchewan telecom, gives us a call and asks us if they can license out our platform for our web hosting platform. Ding, ding, ding.
And then we launched Hostopia. While at Hostopia, uh, we were studying new domain extensions after we had sold the company. And one of those domain extensions was dot club while at dot club two years ago, our phone started ringing off the hook when a [00:18:00] new app called clubhouse came out and thousands of people started registering dot club domains and it blew up the domain extension and we ended up selling that company blew it up in a good way.
And we ended up selling that company. While there, on Clubhouse, we met Ed, and who had started this, uh, site, or this, uh, club called Startup Club. And we said, Ed, we love what you’re doing here. And Ed agreed to pass that club over to us to run, and today we’re running that club. Isn’t it absolutely phenomenal how each idea came from prior company?
Being aware You know, my son once found a 20 bill and says, Look, I’m really lucky. And he said, No, you’re really observant. You need to be observant. You need to find those 20 bills. And you can do that in your life. If you really spend, if you’re really aware and you’re, you’re methodical about it, you can actually identify those 20 bills.[00:19:00]
I know that was quite a silky shell, but that’s great. It’s Friday afternoon. It’s the summer. Still, if you’re on in the audience and you’ve ever had an idea, just raise your hand. Come join us on stage. Have some fun. We’d love to hear from you your idea why you think you came up with that idea, whether it worked out or didn’t work out.
You know, we just would love to hear from you on those ideas and get some more, uh, some more feedback and interest in this topic and Michele will let you, uh, moderate, uh, as we go forward and seems like we’ve got our first victim. Yes, we do. We have the brave Eddie, Eddie. We’d love to hear your thoughts, what’s on your mind, your story.
Victim, oh man. Um, sorry I’m over here, I just got done eating lunch. I um, so I started a, essentially like a social media website for professionals in the cannabis space. [00:20:00] Um, and I went through an incubator program and, uh, did like, you know, I think about close to like 70, uh, surveys, interviews with professionals in the space before launching anything, um, through those interviews, kind of uncovered that.
You know, there’s like a disconnect, uh, between operators, uh, even like state to state or within their own state. Um, and so finding other people in the space is like, you know, it’s usually just word of mouth for the most part in proximity. So I wanted to create a platform that made like discovering connections and, you know, like minded people in the space easier.
Um. I launched it and it kind of just sat there and, um, yeah, the tech stack was crazy thick. So I was like paying on this money monthly for nothing. So um, I put pause on it right now and I’m like restructuring the tech stack, but also just trying to figure out like if I was too wide in my, um, my target audience and maybe I need [00:21:00] to narrow in a little bit deeper as far as like who I’m trying to connect with in the space.
Um, but yeah, that’s where I’m at. Now, is it correct to assume that you could sell the service to one com I’m just asking, is it, like, you have to build a platform first and then you need thousands of customers, or can you actually provide the service for one customer first? And then go to 10 and then go to 100.
Yeah, solid. All right. So that’s actually something I’ve been battling with. Initially, the idea was that it was going to be a platform and we were just on board people on there and then charge for like features and add ons. Um. I still see that kind of being the, the like low hanging fruit, but the alternative was like creating a platform that would allow like other organizations to, um, this would be like a way more dense of a product, but, you know, allowing them to use the same kind of functionality internally with their own employees and collaborators and stuff like that.[00:22:00]
So again, just making like at that point, it’s like a, you know, I almost like a glorified Rolodex, but the whole idea is to just make personalization real on a profile level. And then like that discovery piece, like, you know, focusing on that over the like content creation and stuff like that. Yeah. And I think it sounds like it’s an idea that.
Uh, you know, has a strong need. There’s a need out there because not all these cannabis operators understand social, social media. And, you know, I saw it happen actually with my school that my wife and I own, where we originally had our own website, da, da, da. And eventually. We just decided to use one platform for someone who specialized in content and social media management for Montessori schools.
So it was very specific. It was very niche, very vertical. And what I like about your idea there is it’s, I [00:23:00] mean, I don’t know if I’ve characterized it correctly, your concept, but what I like is a few things. What I really like is that this is an idea that’s taking advantage of a, an emerging trend. Uh, it’s, you’re catching a wave around the whole new cannabis industry.
And what I like, the reason why I like that is because a lot of the bigger corporations, they’re not really there yet. They haven’t mentally got their heads around new trends and they tend to go much slower when it comes to
AI and some other things, but the fact of the matter is they take a long time, but I also like about it is it’s like a small industry. If you look at the total industry size. It’s probably relatively small, uh, you know, social media services for the cannabis industry. Um, but that’s okay. ’cause sometimes it’s easier to dominate one of some of the business plans that I see that [00:24:00] are out there, people say, well, if I could just get 0.01% of $120 billion industry, then I could actually make tens of millions of dollars.
Well, the fact is it’s much harder to actually do that. Especially when you’re talking about technology, uh, technology, uh, adoption and, and who dominates in a particular industry, uh, and it’s, it’s, in this particular one, I could see you dominating this industry. I could see you actually winning that market.
Uh, and so I really hope you do stick with it and come back and share with us, um, more updates about that. That story.
Yeah. I’m going to add on a little bit too, um, for Eddie, I would just say. Make sure you’re really talking to the target audience, too. I don’t know if this is true, but what first popped into my mind is maybe some of these people do not want to be, [00:25:00] like, broadly, um, accessible, or everyone listening to everything they say.
I don’t know if that’s true, Eddie, but I was just thinking, oh, if I was a, you know, cannabis grower or marketer, I might want to only interact with certain people. And I wouldn’t, and I may not want it like publicly available information, I guess I should say, however, I would want it and I would want it with the right target audience and with people that are really do understand and are experts.
So, I don’t know if that’s true, Eddie, but it’s what popped into my mind, but there and I think lies an interesting opportunity for you to really, um, you know, to really develop a compelling product. Right? Because if it is something like that, and you really can, let’s just say curate and get to, you know, let’s just say the taste makers and the extremely knowledgeable [00:26:00] people, I think you could really, you know, provide something of real value, you know, that you can actually charge for other than like what a lot of social media is like.
That’s just some thoughts I had immediately based on what you were saying. And I do think it’s a really cool space.
Thanks. I appreciate the both of you. Um, pretty, pretty spot on. Sometimes I feel like when I’m talking, I don’t know if it’s like making sense. And sometimes I feel like what I’m building essentially, it’s just a directory, but I’m trying to run deeper than that and not be romantic with the idea at the end of the at the end of the day.
It’s about trying to like. You know, just allow, um, better connections in the space, I guess. So I’m trying to focus on that. Yeah, well, I do, um, a, uh, cohorts. Uh, I spend about two hours, uh, in the very first, in the very first [00:27:00] session. And we spent actually about, to be quite frank, about half hour preparing a four sticky note business plan.
And it’s actually in the book as well. I’m sorry I can’t get the book right now. It’s not coming until October 3rd, but I wish I could in some ways, uh, show, share with you the four sticky note business plan. Because if you take your idea and you put it on the sticky note business plan, and literally it only takes you a half hour, it really helps you think through the strategy.
Of launch and getting to your first stage gate and how much money you need to get there and who you need to get there and it doesn’t take long. It’s a very, very quick exercise. We are actually eventually going to put that on startup club a way for you to create a sticky note business plan, which will actually turn into a full AI business plan as well that you can present to investors.
We’re working on that project. Um, but if you get a chance, pick up the book, start, scale, exit, repeat. Uh, it’s coming out October [00:28:00] 3rd. I thought we might have had something on startup club once, but I can’t seem to find it right now. Um, but, uh, you know, you can, you can search for other alternative business plans.
I know Burn Harnish has a one page strategic plan. It’s a little bit more complicated and not as geared towards startups. Like the early stage startups, but if you get a chance try to consider completing that four sticky note business plan It’s very simple to do. Well, i’m excited. We have oh, sorry eddie I was gonna say can I ask I got one question one one thing that i’ve been battling is uh through the incubator program That I went through um a big thing for them was like proof of concept would be someone, you know, actually handing you money um, and so like putting like a price wall up has been like something i’ve been that I was doing initially and now i’m thinking like Considering the, the type of product that I’m building, it could be kind of counter intuitive to charge people to join a membership base that like has zero members.
Right? So it’s like you join a directory and it’s [00:29:00] empty. So, like, um, to combat that I was thinking of, like, launching a brand directory, but then they would pay a premium to get into the people directory and to be able to interact one on one. Um, but I guess I’d say to say, like, do you feel like, uh, it makes sense to, to, like, stick to that price wall idea or it’s a kind of people and then I’ll charge later.
I’m really big on this idea of proving the concept. Okay. So I think. The way I would probably approach this, or if you’re in our incubator and I invested in the company and I was advising you, I would say, okay, what I’d really like you to do is get your first five customers and doesn’t, let’s forget about the technology.
Let’s go real deep with five customers and really learn what they want and need and how. We can help them with their business. And when we figure that out, then let’s put that into a platform and let’s scale that platform. That’s probably the way I would do it is just really get [00:30:00] deep with and you might not be making a profit on five customers and that’s okay.
But at least you’re getting your dirt. You’re developing a platform and you’re, you’re, um, you’re moving it forward. Yeah. And I’m just going to add on here a little, you know, with those kinds of platforms, you really need adoption and critical mass. So I would say, be careful about, um, causing people to pay when there’s no members and there’s no community yet, because it, I’m going to tell you it won’t do well.
You need to get some critical mass first, even if they have to give up something, right? Meaning their email and maybe you’re vetting them. I think that’s okay, but be very cautious until you, um, you know, you get some confidence that you do have the right. Format the right, you know, people on the platform before you start trying to charge.
That’s that’s what I that’s my 2 [00:31:00] cents. It sounds like common sense, but I know a lot of things in the startup world are like, they might seem like it, but they’re not. They’re really not. So I appreciate that. Thank you. But, uh, yeah, I’m gonna fall back to the audience now that somebody else get there, get the chance.
Thanks again. All right. I just want to mention we have Tej joining us. Tej is an expert in Startup funding and even more, um, mid market funding. He’s, he’s a very successful person in VC who’s also joined the stage. So this is your chance to, to also be able to interact with Tej if you have questions.
About your big idea or your not so big idea that maybe it’s just a big moneymaker. That’s okay too. I think, right? Tash. Absolutely. If you got, uh, if you got the dream and you have some thoughtful energy behind it and a plan, like Colin said. Whether it’s four sticky notes or otherwise, uh, [00:32:00] you can do it.
But I love what I want to make one note. I love what he said about, well, you just said actually is find the customer first. That’s exactly how we launched our firm five years ago. Find, we found three or four huge corporate clients that said, if you do this. We will follow you. Kind of like, you know, if you build it, they will come.
Once you do that, found three large corporate clients first, then we built the firm around them. Next thing you know, we closed three transactions. And for every one of those transactions, we got another referral. Next thing you know, you’re moving at the speed of three, six, nine, 12, et cetera. So just want to make a note of that, but always a pleasure to be here.
Thanks, Michele. Thank you. All right. We have Marco, who has joined us on the stage. Marco, what is your question or your story that you can share here with members? Uh, well, I’m originally from Alabama. I went to Ohio, moved to Georgia. When I was in Ohio. I did a lot of research, which I found out is very [00:33:00] frustrating, but it could be done.
Um, I also learned that, you know, kind of like Eddie’s kind of looking for the, the, uh, target audience. You know, one thing that I learned in my business with the Shopify store is that when you doing, when you building up, you gotta have a purpose. You know, you got to figure out exactly what you want to do behind that purpose.
You’ve got to have a principle and behind that principle, last but not least is the process. So you already know who your targeted audience is. You, it will get frustrated to do that research. So just stick with it, work hard, stick with it at every step. And once you find your target audience, you need to hit the ground running, go full speed ahead.
Don’t stop. That’s all I wanted to give. That’s the only advice I wanted to give to Eddie. All right, Marco, you, I’m your third follower, by the way, so thank you [00:34:00] very much. That was great. And um, it reminded me of the first words in the book, or some of the first words was. Um, you know, when you’re starting a business, it’s all about purpose and why.
So if you, if you do look at the four stick, you know, business plan, the very first thing at the top is why. Why are you doing this business? And there’s a quite a story in that why. And you can share that story with prospective customers, investors, suppliers. Because everybody wants to hear the story of why.
And if you. Why is not I want to make money? I hope we all can agree on that. Is that correct, Marco? Yes, that’s correct. You gotta have a passion in what you’re doing. You know, if it’s about money, it’s not. It’s not gonna work because once all the money is in it, you know, you not gonna have the passion for business no more.
So one thing we always gotta ask [00:35:00] ourself before we even start a business. Is this the niche that we want to go with? Is this is what, is this what we are passionate about? If you passionate about something, there is nothing that’s gonna stop you but yourself. But we already know that we are our own worst critic.
And we are the only ones that can stop us from doing whatever we want to do. So, I mean, like I said, I started with a Shopify store and that took me, it took me so long to do it, but I eventually got it up and running and then I started seeing people looking at it. And I started seeing the people that’s looking at it and I started targeting those people.
See, and I had a buddy that’s up in Ohio. He does a, he has a dispensary. What he did was, he went to like, they got, uh, events that they have for dispensaries, bashes, all that. He went there [00:36:00] and promoted himself. And that’s how he I mean, I don’t know how much money he’s making with that business, but he’s very successful.
So as long as you got to a target audience and you don’t lose focus and you keep putting one foot forward, you’re going to be successful. You know, I think it’s also interesting that when you have, uh, when you start with why and you have a passion for something, it can get you through the hard times as well.
I often say it takes 10 years to make an overnight success. And if you look at my history, you’d see. All these successful companies, but they all seem to take 10 years. Even the book took 10 years to write. I don’t know what it is, but whatever. Fact of the matter is, there’s ups and downs. And you’re gonna go through those times when you just curl up in a ball and stay at home and, you know, but, but, you know what?
If you’re passionate about that idea, if you love the idea, and I know I go a little too far in the book [00:37:00] about this, but if you love it, it’s gonna get you through those hard times. You know, the reality is, I do love dogs and I interact with that company and we’ve come up with a lot of different product ideas based on those interactions.
And it’s just because I love dogs and I love seeing them and I love seeing how they interact with the products and You know, it’s just a lot of fun for me Uh, I don’t love cats. I’m gonna admit that Michele. I know you love cats Michele. You have a cat company right I love all people at animals college I think partially because i’m allergic to cats too.
But the fact is I don’t and I don’t really You know have much much I can help Michele out with her company because I just don’t just not my thing. I just don’t really Understand cats. I don’t like him. It’s not a hobby. It’s not a passion of mine, but I do love dogs and and uh Paw. com is the name of the company and it’s done extremely well four years in a row on inc 5000 fastest growing companies Uh, and we’re pretty proud of what we’ve accomplished there.
We’ve [00:38:00] invented multiple new products for pets And quite frankly, it’s a lot of fun. Oh, we didn’t even talk about that. It reminds me of, um, Joe Foster, who founded Reebok, uh, and who we’ve interviewed here on this show. A couple of times he’s popped in, uh, on the show. He just does it the odd time. He’s 88 years old.
And one thing he said about Reebok is, or any idea he said, you gotta have fun, fun, fun. He’s really big on that concept. If it’s, if you’re going into this and it’s not fun. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know you’re going to come to a point in your startup where it’s not fun, where you’re barely can make payroll or, you know, you’re stressed out about raising the money or, but ultimately.
You know, a large percentage of the time it should be fun. And, uh, but again, I know it’s a roller coaster. It’s such a roller coaster, isn’t it? Marco, thank you very much. I’m your follower number three. And we’d [00:39:00] like to follow people who come on stage because when you’re actively involved in the startup club, we would like to get to know you.
So if you are in the audience, uh, and you want to join the conversation, just raise your hand and we’d be happy to answer a question or listen to your story of your why. Or your idea and why you think it was successful or not. All right, we have Miss Marie who has joined the stage. Miss Marie, tell us your story or, um, ask any questions.
Thank you. Thank you for having me. Um, everybody, uh, just wanted to share an experience and, uh, maybe people can take something away from it or just, just be able to share it because it, I’ve been a, uh, I’ve always had an entrepreneur mindset since I was a teen [00:40:00] and in 2017, I too got involved in the cannabis and CBD space, So I started a company, uh, LLC, I started with an LLC, it was called CBDivas, and, uh, it was an online store, and, um, I was basically selling CBD products, uh, tinctures, um, uh, pet treats, whatever have you, different various product online.
And, uh, without any marketing, I, I made 48, 000. And so when I pitched this idea at first, uh, to an investor, he literally wanted to write me a check right there in the spot and said, how much money do you need to get this company started? Uh, in my mind, I was kind of more thinking like 150 K, you know, but I said to him, well, hold off.
Don’t write the check yet. Cause what I want to do is I want to build the company first. And then, um, [00:41:00] you know, get, get the website going, online store going and, um, And then maybe if I need your help, I’ll come back and come back to you, you know, so that’s something I did. I wanted to be the Mary Kay of CBD.
So I wanted to also give opportunities for other, other people to especially like maybe a stay at home mom to join the, um, The sales and then reward them with a vehicle at the, for like having big sales. So that was kind of my vision there. So, but here’s the thing the following year, I got involved with because of the whole cannabis coming.
I didn’t want to come in as a, uh, more in the cannabis space. So I met a person who manufactured a product that, that basically, um, has a, um, [00:42:00] strong product where it can, so like a powerful degreaser and, um, you could literally soak, dip your hand in oil, like you were, you know, Getting oil out of your truck and you could dip your whole hand in there and then take it out and then spray it with this product and you would not even need to, uh, uh, wash your hands with soap or water or use any kind of chemical to dissipate the oil.
You just basically just wipe your hand dry and your hand would be soft. So I said, Hey, what, what, what if I take that? And it’s, and it’s a non toxic, um, it’s organic. And I said, what if I take that same product? And I would put three innate ingredients and let’s go to the farming industry with this product and it would clean the plants.
And more importantly, because I was in the cannabis space, uh, the growers will love this because they don’t have to put any, any toxic chemicals, um, to kill off the bugs. [00:43:00] And microbial, um, uh, creatures destroying their cannabis plant. Cause once this thing gets, um, APHIS or any of these microbial, um, creatures on there, you pretty much have to kind of throw the plant away.
So, um, I, I went and, and, uh, wrote a business plan for it. Uh, we actually did try the. I said, okay, well, you know, what are the ingredients, you know, trial, whatever have you, and I took this product, had this product, we tried it on our, uh, at the time, you know, I had a friend who was a farmer, uh, tried it on his grow, and it, the results was like, wow, it cleaned the plants right away.
But we were not ready yet to take it to the marketplace. So I had a friend here in San Diego who has a, uh, urban farm where he grew various different type of plants, everything from, um, cannabis. And he w he was actually, uh, using an [00:44:00] aquaponic way of, of, of, um, uh, growing cannabis, um, which is very interesting cause you don’t, uh, use a lot of space.
You don’t, you don’t need a land to grow cannabis. Um, it was just this fiber tank and it’s, uh, basically the water it’s, and it’s recyclable water that’s going into the tank, feeding the fish, the fish poop feeds the plant, you know, that sort of thing. And it just kind of goes into recycle anyway. Um, I, Asked if I could come in there and you and have this product, mind you, he doesn’t know anything of if this product of mine wasn’t even going to kill any of his plant, it was just really a chance.
And the fact that he would trust that I wouldn’t go in there and and decimate his whole plantations there of plants and cannabis specifically. And so yeah, he allowed me to go in there and we treated the product [00:45:00] and the results again one more time was it cleaned the plants. So then I convinced a partner of mine, uh, I, I pitched, I did a lot of pitching, um, so in that I got an investor out of it, uh, you know, 40K, he invested 40K for 20% equity in the company, and so then, uh, you know, it’s, it was an S Corp.
Um, then we decided to… Because we have the proof of concept at this urban farm that it went well. And then he too said, Hey, this product works well. You know, I use it on my product. And I had a testimonial from an urban farmer and several other farmers that we gave the product to, we thought for sure, okay, now we’re ready, really ready to go.
Cause now I got the funding to get the company going. I got the business plan written out. And plus mind you, I spent. Countless hours of correcting information because it was based on, um, demand and [00:46:00] supply and you know who my target market was going to be. Is it going to be these small farmer guys or is it going to be these big distributors who are going to get it out there?
So I got actually two investors to invest. Um, one was more, uh, not Equity within my company, but just, uh, you know, here’s X amount of dollars for X amount of dollars. Um, so I was really happy and I thought for sure, you know, this is it, you know, this is the, this is the way we’re going to go with this. So, uh, we went to a paid for a convention, the, the convention alone was 10 gram to register for it.
And the, um. The materials I got for the convention too was, uh, before you know it, we’re already close to 30, 000. Then of course I had to get salespeople. So, we were really rockin and rollin and let me tell you… I thought by going to this convention that specifically directly touched the farmers, our product was going [00:47:00] to be an instant hit and we were going to sell out.
And I say this because there’s a lot of lesson that I’ve learned through the whole entire process with this. And, um, because the three days that we were there, a lot, a lot of the orders that were coming in were kind of more like sample orders that weren’t really orders like truckloads, uh, you know. Um, so, you know, through my journey, there was just really a lot of things, um, that I’ve, you know, looking in hindsight, because let me tell you, at the end of the day, um, the manufacturer that we, we were going with actually, um, was scrupulous and, and basically was fraud, and in the process of that, we met someone who actually had a similar, um, uh, Main ingredient and he’s like my product if anything’s more better.
So we went with that one long story short. We [00:48:00] went to different, um, investor pitching because now we need a venture capitalist, um, to come in there now and, you know, really take it to the next level. Because this is the same product that can also clean water. Now this, you know, you have this algae bloom growing, and then you put this product in there and, you know, A couple hours or maybe a couple of days later, the water is clear.
So for sure, we thought we had this product that everybody wanted. So we went from countless meetings, left and right, long story short, we were offered 50 million to buy the company, but then the manufacturer did not want to, um, just let go of it that easily. Cause he knew what he got, you know, what kind of product he has here.
So, um. By him, you know, not wanting to take the first offer because first of all, the company that wanted to [00:49:00] purchase it was a cosmetic company out of Greek Greece. And he really thought, and he got freaked out and thinking, this is, this, this may be Monsanto trying to come after us. And I don’t want to, I don’t feel comfortable selling the company.
And then they wanted to pay a portion of that. 50 million in like 28 days, provided that we signed the contract, we released a patent to them and all that stuff. So, um, because of his hesitation, you know, he pulled out on the deal and therefore I’m left holding with the bag, you know, uh, I’ve got these investors who I took money in and, but, but we went head on together though, it wasn’t like, you know.
I was more like the, the, the brain and they were the beauty or the beauty in the brain, you know, kind of concept. So I’m just sharing this with you guys because these are some of the things that I experienced that I wish that I should have stuck with my CVD Divas that I started a year [00:50:00] before that. And I think I would have been more successful with that because there was other, there was other, uh, Areas I wanted to cover in the CBD category when I was first in it, and no, you know, it wasn’t as available as it is today.
So anyway, with that, I land. Thank you for the opportunity.
We appreciate the story. I mean, the detail. We’ve actually done a show called Lessons from the Edge, and I think that one was one there that really went into detail about some of the things that could go wrong and the partnerships and suppliers and whatnot. But we appreciate that. Thank you. Thank you for that.
We have apologize on my pronunciation. I’m calling you right now to a cola. Maxwell, you’re on stage. Do you have an idea that you can share or why you came up with an idea that took off or didn’t take off? [00:51:00] Greetings, everyone. Yes, greetings, everyone. Can you hear me? Yes, we can. Just, yeah, a little bit light, so maybe a little, speak a little bit louder, but we can hear you loud and clear.
Okay, my name is Achola Maxwell. I’m from Kenya, Africa, here in East Africa.
I operate a non profit organization. However, we’ve got some income generating activities that help me to, to sustain the organization. Uh, we started with one chicken, uh, and, uh, two, one cock and two chicken. And, uh, the moment when we started, by the way, we started by training young people on how to do poultry keeping and, uh, when I started the, the, the project, it, it started peaking by, uh, youth started, uh, coming in and training and, uh, out of [00:52:00] it, we got some income from the training manual that we developed.
And, uh, again, I saw an idea whereby There was a space whereby people used to throw garbage, so we went and, uh, decided that we should clean that space. And, uh, when we cleaned the space, uh, a certain land grabber unfortunately saw the space is nice. And, uh, he started, uh, building, uh, uh, shops there. And, uh, we had some, uh, push and pull.
And, uh, they decided to give us another space that is not better. But we saw that. Because we, that space, we can use it. So we, we, we started, uh, doing, uh, smart outdoor garden, chicken kitchen garden, where we started putting, uh, uh, uh, vegetables and, uh, and, uh, selling them to the community and also producing training [00:53:00] manuals on how we can also sell to the rest of the community.
So, so that they can also start, uh, putting, uh, vegetables that can become sustainable to themselves. So there was some income that we started getting out of it. So, uh, when we were stopping, uh, people from throwing, uh, garbage around the community, we saw it, uh, an opportunity by starting collecting garbage from the household.
Whereby we collected garbages from the household and, uh, we got money out of it for employing young people. Uh, so that they cannot engage into criminal activities because of, uh, lack of, uh, employment. Especially for young people between the age of 18 years to 24 years, which has become a very big problem here in Africa.
So, uh, through that, uh, we saw other opportunities that come with garbage. Whereby we saw there were [00:54:00] plastics from the, the, the plastics that we get out of, uh, from the waste. And then we, we sold them. For example, there is HD plastic. There is also, uh, uh, blow and injection plastic and PVC. Whereby when we sold them, we used to sell them to, to, to, to, to other aggregators.
Uh, waste aggregators and then these waste aggregators again sell them to other people. So, uh, we saw that great need and, uh, after some time, uh, we, we, we got a well wisher who supported us with incubator and, uh, this, uh, we started producing a lot of chicken and, uh, after selling this chicken, we also got an opportunity of buying, uh, uh, uh, a shredding machine so that we could get more.
Uh, profit from this, uh, uh, waste management, whereby we started shredding [00:55:00] plastic into flecks and then selling them not to aggregators, but industries that produce, uh, uh, uh, items that are made out of plastic. So, uh, apparently we are still looking forward on how we can also start molding and, uh. The, the, the, the, the, the, the, the, the, the organization that was just started out of, uh, uh, helping the community has injected several other projects that are within it.
Uh, we also, uh, do seedlings, uh, 3 seedlings, uh, yes, I really appreciate the story. We are running out of time. We only have a couple minutes left, but I really wanted to, um, congratulate you. And, and, and I think you, you just. What you’ve done here is it reminded me of figuring out the problem in the community and then solving it.
And it doesn’t have to be a for profit. It could be a not for profit. And we had a, uh, and I think you [00:56:00] might find this fascinating. We had another gentleman who’s from Africa who came on the show. Uh, this show a few weeks ago, and I just pinned the link at the top there. His name’s Manny Ohnum, and I don’t know, you probably could pronounce it better than me, Ohnum, Ohnum, Ohnum, and, uh, he set out on a goal.
Of giving away 10 million pairs of shoes 19 years ago because he discovered all of the issues where Children, uh, who didn’t have shoes would actually have lower education. They would get diseases. They were all these problems associated with it. So he says, you know, how am I going to change the world?
How am I going to solve that problem? And he’s crossing over his 10 millionth pair of shoes in October. So we’re looking forward to, to seeing that I pin that at the top and that, um, show is available [00:57:00] also on any podcast network. You just search for, uh, many old me. O H O N M E, O H O N M E, Manny Orm.
What’s that? Can you help me? Yeah, just a minute. Okay, spell the name again.
O H O N M E O H M O N M E Omni. Omni. There we go. Thank you. Thank you very much. That’s why we need a community. We, we, we all, we all don’t have all the answers. Right? We need a community to come together. But it’s a phenomenal story. If you get a chance. Uh, just search for that on Google Startup Club and it’ll come right up and or in your favorite podcast network.
Uh, it’s been a great show. I wanted to, uh, say that [00:58:00] this topic is near and dear to me. Uh, I spend A lot of time speaking on this topic, I’ve invested a lot in the book coming out on October 3rd, Start, Scale, Exit, Repeat, and where we go into a lot more stories of actual individuals who came up with that idea or tried to solve a problem, and they understood their why, their passion, and they love that idea, and they went through that rollercoaster and were successful at it.
We talk a lot about this concept, but In the book start scale exit repeat, which will be coming out October 3rd being published by Forbes. What a great show. Thank you. Everyone. Uh, we shall see you next week. Friday. 2 o’clock Eastern Michele. Any last final thoughts to just remember we have a website www.
startup. club please check it out. We put a lot of effort. Um, we have well over You know, 150 blog articles, um, trans, um, [00:59:00] transcripts, as well as the links to the recordings. And if you want to hear about these cool events and speakers, not only just on this show, but other shows that are on Startup Club, please join the email list and we’ll let you know as they occur.
Thank you. And, um, I think we’re getting close to the end of summer, at least I hope so. So everybody have a wonderful weekend and we’ll see you next week. Same time, same place. That’s Friday at 2 p. m. Eastern here on Clubhouse at Startup Club. Thank you so much.