Kill your darlings: The importance of challenging ideas early on - working with startups

Here’s a bit of a secret about me - I love bad ideas. Not "let’s make wings out of cardboard and try to fly off the shed" bad ideas (broken bones heal, thankfully) but the kind of bad ideas that force you to question where they came from in the first place and what impact they have on a project. At Gravitywell, we see a lot of these, especially early on in Discovery Phases - a crucial piece of work that we use to help businesses understand how to make the most of their ideas (good and bad) to build something that’s capable of standing out from the crowd.

Startups grow out of ideas. However, one can quickly expand into many, all pulling in different directions and generating noise that can make it hard to stay focused in the right places. The aim is to be open to all of them but strict when it comes to deciding which ones make the cut for first release. 

That doesn’t mean you need to be brutally dismissive though. Bad ideas need to be challenged and, in a lot of cases, that’s enough to refine them into something useful, either for now or a later phase once more pressing questions have been answered. To help demonstrate this, I’d like to take a look at some of the most common bad ideas that we see and how they can be addressed.

Going for mass market appeal

Audiences are nuanced. Rarely can you expect your idea to appeal to everyone. Age, experience, income, background - these and many more factors affect how you approach a potential user. Rather than trying to serve everyone early on it can be more valuable to zero in on a more defined target. Think about the users who are most likely to engage with what you’re building on a deeper level. These are the people who will support you early on and provide the best feedback & metrics to help understand your impact and opportunities for growth.

Doing too much at once

Launching a new app or service is exciting and you’ll have a tonne of ideas for features that feel like they all have to be included at the start. It’s important, however, to temper your excitement and see every feature as a point on a roadmap. Before it’s ready to launch, you need to think about the purpose it serves and if there’s enough understanding and interest to support its inclusion.

Focusing on the wrong tech

The cost of app development is more than just financial. Every outlet - web apps, native apps, service integrations - need to be considered as an individual use case that serves a specific purpose. For example, think about where users will be when you need to engage them and how willing they are to do that on a smaller or larger screen.

Ignoring the importance of good design

As technology becomes more and more accessible, developing platforms is a smaller part of the overall challenge. User experience, however, can never be oversold. Take every opportunity to plan, question, and refine how people interact with your platform with an aim to make it as quick and elegant as possible.

Challenge your assumptions… and don’t be afraid to ask for help

Once an idea is out there, don’t be afraid to regularly question it. Who is it serving? Does the want you’re describing serve a real need? Is it the best use of resources right now or should it wait for later? Sometimes that’s easier said than done, which is where agencies like Gravitywell come in. It’s important to have partners who are as passionate and excited as you but a degree of objectivity is also key. And don’t be afraid to share ideas before they’re fully formed!

If you have an innovative idea you’d like to discuss then we’d love to hear from you, so get in touch.

Written by Henry Osadzinski (Operations Manager). Read more in Insights by Henry or check our their socials , Instagram