One of the most asked about questions from Prabakar Sundarrajan and me is how we come up with new ideas. It is one of the most challenging questions to answer. My most honest answer though is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.
DEFINITION OF A FRAMEWORK: CLOUD AND IOT INFRASTRUCTURE
The way I look at it is like asking an author how he or she comes up with a plot for a novel. One part of it is a framework to think within. The framework could be adventure, romance, crime. In that context, our framework is the Cloud and IoT infrastructure space. Inside that arena, we see rapid growth in the microservices, container, edge and multi-cloud space. This gives us a rich tapestry within which to identify whitespaces and develop new ideas. These ideas span the areas of security, data movement, multi-cloud policy engines, etc.
MULTI-PHASE PROCESS OF CO-CREATING COMPANIES:
PHASE 1 – COLLABORATIVE IDEATION
I should pause at this stage and give a quick overview of The Fabric itself. It would be presumptuous of me to assume that anyone reading this blog understands who we are and what we do. We are a Silicon Valley based pre-Series A startup foundry and accelerator founded by a team of highly experienced serial entrepreneurs who help the company grow through the entire lifecycle, from idea through scaling the business. We co-create the company from scratch, in a multi-phase process within the cloud and IoT infrastructure space. The first phase of a multi-phase process is collaborative ideation where we identify tangible problem statement and market opportunity aligned with the cloud and IoT infrastructure space.
IMPORTANCE OF ENTREPRENEURS IN CO-CREATING THE COMPANY WITH US
The next step in this phase is to create a thesis and get these down on paper. This is done in conjunction with the co-founding entrepreneurs. We consider this as one of the most important steps. Getting thoughts down in a powerpoint in a coherent fashion and being crisp is a lot harder than it sounds. This is pretty much half the battle in getting the idea crystalized to something viable.
In this context, I would be amiss if I don’t stress enough the importance of the entrepreneurs. They need to have the passion and persistence to make this effort successful. In addition, the expertise and insight they bring into the space are incredibly critical. The most recent example of this is Kavach, the microservices/API security company that we have co-founded. The deep technology and use case insights that the co-founders have brought in have been critical to getting the company to the next stage. Amit Jain and Pratik Roychowdhary have brought to the table strategic relationships, deep technology and use case definitions that have enabled the company to get going.
GETTING FEEDBACK FROM EXPERTS & END CUSTOMERS
There are two kinds of presentations that a team needs to put together: one for investors and the other for validation with potential end customers. The topics that are covered in these two could be very different but useful to develop simultaneously. This would be in effect an initial comprehensive business plan but also a lot more. Putting thoughts down in a presentation form it allows us to develop a messaging framework which you can then test with an audience. It is also instrumental to envision how we can strategically position the product from both a customer and investor perspective.
Another step in the process would be to have a lot of conversations with experts in the space to assess the needs of end users. These conversations enable the entrepreneur to identify the business value generated for the end customer in the use of the product, the specific features needed to deploy, identifying the influencers/buyers in the enterprise, etc.. In software development the new mantra is CI/CD which allows for speed of development and deployment. A similar philosophy needs to be applied at this stage. As feedback rolls in, it requires a constant rethink and redo of the plan. A classic example of this is when we developed the Spanugo idea. What started as an idea for migration of infrastructure elements across clouds ended up as a continuous security assurance product across clouds.
AFTER A YEAR OF THE IDEA VALIDATION
Finally, we need to be prepared to spend at least a year in formalizing this idea and have the constitution to put up with the natural ebb and flow of both endorsements and rejections. As I said earlier 99% perspiration and endurance. In my next article, I’ll be discussing on how to build upon a validated idea.