I’m not an engineer, scientist or technologist, nor have I every played one on TV. But I’ve found after many years of mentoring technology startups, it’s not about the technology.
In fact what I fell my mentees is I certainly believe that they can build what they say they plan to build (Though I haven’t run into invisibility cloak or perpetual motion machine inventors, yet.)
But the big question is: can you (or some 3rd party) sell it?
Too many entrepreneurs focus totally on the supply side, creating the product and seem to have an “If I will build it, they will come” attitude. Where I find most startups need help is almost always in a non-technical area: customer acquisition, team building, raising capital, creating partnerships, and other, what have been called “soft skills.”
There are always a few exceptions where the product or service is either something I am very familiar with or pretty straightforward, where I can add value in advice about features or functions – usually suggesting how to cut some to get to market sooner. But mainly I confine myself to recommendations for usability testing, A/B testing, minimal path implementation (presentation, demo, prototype, beta, MVP), tech support, feature/function prioritization, and similar issues.
And the time to start finding out if you or a third party can sell your product or service needs to be done in parallel with product development, not after you have developed your product. See Steve Blank on customer development.