Posted Sep. 3, 2014 at 9:49 a.m.

Ask ChannelAdvisor's Scot Wingo: Evaluating your big idea

Published: 2014-09-03 09:49:10
Updated: 2014-09-03 09:49:10

Editor's note: Scot Wingo is co-founder and CEO of ChannelAdvisor, a public company in Morrisville, N.C. that helps e-commerce retailers optimize sales across channels. Wingo and team took the company public in May 2013. This is a regular series, and you can read the kick-off post here for background. Ask him a question by commenting or emailing

Part Two—Evaluating your idea.

This is part two of a three-part series that seeks to answer the question—“How do you come up with an idea for a software startup company?”—asked by Aaron, a local web developer.

In Part One, I introduced the “startup idea” pattern. The key highlights from that pattern were:
• Business-oriented ideas are more numerous and easier to execute on than consumer ideas.
• The best ‘seeds' for ideas for business-oriented solutions are add-ons, industry-oriented and solving a problem you have personally experienced (necessity is the mother of invention).

In Part Two, we'll look at the next step—once you think you have an idea or several candidates, how do you evaluate those ideas?

While Aaron didn't specifically ask about it, the next step, and in many ways the same step, is evaluating your idea. In my experience, one of the challenges is too many ideas. Hopefully the first post has stimulated some ideas and now you have a pool of ideas to work with. The problem is you can end up with an ‘abundance of choice'. Now you have too many ideas and it can be hard to evaluate them, so you are probably asking, should I focus on A, B, or C?

Now most of what you read on this topic is written by venture capitalists (VCs) and they take the opposite approach I'm going to recommend here. It makes sense because they are evaluating ideas for investment and have different criteria than you probably will. I bring this up, because if one of your goals is to raise VC, you will need to ‘think like a VC' and make sure your idea meets their criteria as well as your own. Even if you don't have plans to raise VC, it doesn't hurt to run your ideas through some of their filters just to help think through the priority.

The full story can be read online at ExitEvent.

Check out Part One as well.

Note: ExitEvent is a news partner of WRAL TechWire.


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