I don’t care about your ideas. I care about your skills.

in startups •  last year 

“So, what do you do?”

“I’m a developer”

“Oh, let me tell you about this great app idea… you build it and I send you motivational texts at all hours of the night. We’ll make millions!”


I’ve been out to some of these social events and been presented with more NDAs than I’ve had drinks, so let’s clear things up:

Does your day job pay you to just think of ideas? If you took an idea to the head of your department would they pay you for that? Why would approaching a developer be any different?

Your idea is worth nothing unless…

you can back it up with skills.

Here are a few tips:

If you can’t communicate your idea then you have already failed.

Prepare an overview and put it in writing, it doesn’t count if it’s in your head. Do some basic market research, make a marketing plan, put together some rough financials. This isn’t a prospectus, but it does need to have at least as much detail as a pitch deck.

Do a crash course in programming. You don’t need to be Linus Torvalds, but you do need to understand how your app will work, the technology needed to get you there, and the work involved to implement that technology.

Know your value to the business. Having the idea counts for nothing. If you are only capable of doing 20% of the work, then you deserve 20% of the business.

Don’t get attached to your idea. Accept criticisms, accept questioning, allow your idea to change, but don’t let talk get in the way of work. It’s a fine line.

If you don’t work in the industry the app operates in, talk to someone who does and when you do, keep in mind the above point.

Do it. The best feedback you can get is when you actually start working on your idea. Talk is cheap, work discovers value. A developer doesn’t want to work on something valueless.

Remember: Ideas are cheap, work is valuable.

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