First-time entrepreneurs: There are big ideas, and then there are doable ideas

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This is the second article in a continuing series chronicling the growth path of ..duo, a startup based out of Kelowna B.C. that creates simple keywords that use your name, brand, slogan or any other word combination as a shortcut to content on the web.

By Alexandra Reid

Daylin Mantyka, cofounder of ..duo, is reconsidering her entrepreneurial path and the future of her startup following counsel from a mentor who said her idea might be too “big.”

To advise a first-time startup founder to avoid shooting for the stars is like telling a child Santa Clause doesn’t exist. It’s the kind of stuff that crushes dreams. But there might be some merit in talking first-time startup founders down from the clouds and encouraging them to focus on smaller ideas that can be more easily realized.

When we last checked in with Daylin, she had just pitched her concept at Accelerate Okanagan’s Jump:Start:Challenge.

It was Daylin’s first pitch ever, and while she thought she communicated her idea perfectly, she wasn’t selected as one of the top five startup founders to go on in the competition.

Following this experience, she decided to seek the counsel of a local mentor to determine her next steps. She began meeting with this mentor on a regular basis to discuss entrepreneurship in general and the various directions one could take as a new entrepreneur.

“He provided a lot of valuable information about the various paths of entrepreneurship, which really got us thinking about what we wanted and what our goals were,” said Daylin. “We decided, through his counsel, that ..duo might be too big of an idea for us at this stage, and that it might be better to come back to it after we gain more experience.”

Learning from experience, while mitigating risk

It’s no secret that entrepreneurship is risky. But there are smaller projects that less experienced entrepreneurs can tackle where failure comes with a less crippling price tag.

Daylin understands that the experience entrepreneurs can gain from failure can be extremely valuable, especially if they plan on pursuing future opportunities. But it’s perhaps more valuable for an entrepreneur to go through all the steps required to start and exit a new business. Daylin felt that her chance of successfully going through this process was more realistic if she went after a more well-defined opportunity.

“There’s nothing wrong with big ideas. It’s just a matter of selecting the idea that’s right for you at that particular point in your career,” said Daylin. “..duo was a risky opportunity for us. At this point in my entrepreneurial adventure, I thought it would be a good idea to tackle something more manageable, learn from this experience, and then go after bigger opportunities.”

Early errors

Daylin said she already made some critical mistakes in the early days of developing ..duo.

“I hate to admit it, but we developed a product first and then tried to find our market second. In the startup world, that’s seen as a startup sin,” said Daylin.

In her defence, however, she explained that because they were “nobodys” with no business or technical experience, she felt she had to build a product to prove that they were resourceful, capable of planning, passionate and able to take an idea and make something of it.

Developing the right team was another challenge.

“We decided to hire out our technical talent. This worked for us in the short-term,” said Daylin. Though this developer did a great job, Daylin said it would have been far more efficient to hire a developer from within her community.

“While I still believe this is the best approach, I also understand that some communities are not ready or right to seek talent when you need it. Sometimes, more creative strategies may need to be employed if you want to advance your project,” said Daylin.

A technical cofounder can be critical for raising funds. Without a committed cofounder that could be easily accessed, Daylin said they couldn’t push their ideas forward fast enough.

“We quickly realized a lot of our shortcomings,” said Daylin. “Not only did we need a technical cofounder on our team to be attractive to investors, we needed that person to be right beside us to tell us immediately that something on the development side was quick and easy or nearly impossible.”

In a previous startup story, we explained that cofounder Katie Hrycak experienced a similar obstacle during the development of her startup, Commentair. The moral of the story was that startups should not outsource their core competency.

“Teams are what win and they’re what differentiate you,” said Daylin.

And while having the right skills for the job is imperative, she also said it’s important to choose people who share the same overall goals, and to whom you feel connected on a personal level.

“Entrepreneurship is hard and you can’t do it all on your own,” said Daylin.

 

What’s next?

Daylin and her team are in the process of finding a new developer and building the business model and prototype for their new venture. She won’t say what her new idea is, but she will reveal it to us when the time is right.

In our next installment, we’ll catch up with Daylin and talk about how her new venture is moving forward.

/// COMMENTS

2 Comments »
  • Nick Stamoulis

    January 04, 2013 1:33 pm

    “It’s just a matter of selecting the idea that’s right for you at that particular point.”

    I really appreciate that you mentioned this. We run into this problem with potential SEO clients. They’ll be a mom-and-pop type establishment that wants to compete with search traffic for large multinational corporations. We always recommend to take a look at what their particular strengths are in their niche to capitalize on those offerings, versus trying to over-expand with unrealistic expectations.

  • Daylin Mantyka

    January 04, 2013 2:48 pm

    It would seem an obvious statement, Nick, but one that took a little time to learn. When you are so involved in a project, it’s often hard to step back and see the forest for the trees.

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