We at Coshx love meeting new founders and helping them launch their ideas, so much so that it is literally our job, and we are about to meet a whole lot more of you. We are under two weeks away from opening the competition and the excitement is growing. I am eager to see what ideas get submitted and it is really cool to know that someone is only two months away from winning $50,000 of services to build their concept and get started on their company. Is it over the top to think that we could fundamentally change someone’s life, or at least give them an opportunity to change it themselves?
We are not picking the winner and I cannot tell you what type of idea will win, but there are three questions I always ask when I hear about an idea. These also happen to be the three questions that make up the application. Each response is limited to only two thousand characters, so start thinking about your responses.
What Problem Are You Solving?
Every product or service solves a problem, no matter how necessary or seemingly silly it is. Uber solves the problem of easily finding a taxi, the street meat carts in New York solve the problem of being hungry in a rush and even something as ridiculous as a pet rock solves the problem of loneliness, albeit poorly. If you are delivering value to your customer then you are inherently solving a problem that they have, even if they do not think of it as a problem. We could get in a philosophical debate about this (seriously, send us a tweet @coshxlabs and let’s duke it out in public) but it is a matter of reframing the question to derive a better answer. It is not always bad to fall in love with an idea, but by better understanding the problem it is easier to refine and iterate on your proposed solution.
What is Your Solution?
This is the core of your concept and what you are going to be selling to your customers. What will make them give you money rather than the competition? The competition can be a similar product or simply the status quo. Why do I go to Dunkin Donuts over Starbucks? Is it quality of the coffee, the branding or the fact that I am a classless masshole? Why do I buy coffee at all when I could sleep more and drink water?
We may not think of caffeinated beverages in the same class as technology, but the core truth of business is the same; you are trying to convince people to trade their hard earned dollars for something that you created in order to improve their life. You do not need to pitch your idea by referencing your competition but understanding the context of your market and your potential customer base will allow you to build and market your product more effectively.
This question often trips people up, but it is an important one. One tenet of entrepreneurship is that ideas are a dime a dozen but that execution means everything. What is it that makes you uniquely qualified to execute not only on your product but on the business you build around it? Do you have unique industry experience, insights gained from being a power user of outdated products or simply the tenacity and force of will to make your dreams a reality? Although this competition is based on ideas, ideas do not make companies. People do. Why should the public back you over every other idea that gets submitted?
The last thing we will be asking for is a link. You could create an infographic, a Youtube video, fancy financials or anything else that you can put on the internet to showcase your idea. We left the bar to submit incredibly low so that anyone can enter, but this gives people the ability to get creative and have some fun. I can’t wait to see what the world has to offer, and the team at Coshx can’t wait to build something new.