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What is the secret sauce you bring to your idea?
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Evaluating your Secret Sauce is the third step in the Ideas to Reality Methodology. The first 2 steps, “Start with Why” and “Value Proposition”, will help you determine what you have that uniquely positions you to deliver on your idea. This is your differentiator that will mitigate risk and increase your chance of success. Many entrepreneurs look at their product as their differentiator, but a digital product can usually be replicated. Your secret sauce is how YOU will get people to use and love your product. If you’re worried about getting your idea stolen if you tell someone then you don’t have a secret sauce. Without a secret sauce, products compete on price and sales tactics. Not a great recipe for success.

Secret sauce gets you is one or more of the following without having to pay for it.

  • Unique perspective
  • Customers
  • Marketing
  • Growth

Types of Secret Sauce

Proprietary Knowledge

This is the obvious one that every investor asks about which includes patents, recipes, and unique processes. This secret sauce focuses on product and provides a defensible position. However, it does not provide any advantages for gaining adoption, where most early ideas fail. Often it provides a false sense of security that a business will be successful because it has a defensible product. It’s great to have but you need to know how to use it. 

Industry Experience

We touched on this aspect in the Step 1 article (Great products sprout from ideas with strong personal connections). In the context of step 3, we think about how industry experience can help us deliver on our idea. 

Firstly, it allows you to create a great product fit because you intimately understand how your customers would use your product and you would ideally be a customer ourselves.

Secondly, it provides a source of early adopters for your product once it’s built because you’re building it with input from the user community and you already have a trusted relationship with them.

Authority a topic

This overlaps with industry experience but it adds an extra element of reach. This secret sauce includes people that have a following from a blog, print column or book they wrote. They may be an influential speaker or pioneer in the industry. These people are known to be an expert in their fields and people trust them. These authorities have a unique perspective, potential customers and word of mouth marketing that they can tap into for free.

Relationships 

Working with people that you trust is imperative to getting your idea off the ground. You’re busy enough making the right decisions for your idea than to have to worry about someone not coming through. Additionally, we want to make sure we’re paying a fair price for the services we require. If you’re creating an app, you need to engage designers, developers and maybe lawyers to get the app completed. How do you know what you should pay and whether you’re getting value for your money if you’ve never worked with these people before? You don’t! Ideas to Reality is here to provide a network of trusted resources.

Partnerships are the fastest ways to accelerate your idea. This should be your first thought when you need something for your idea. There are always opportunities to collaborate and to leverage what other have already built. Too often we’re paying for things that we don’t need to. Remember, saving money is critical as you develop your idea. The more experience you have in the industry, the more value you have to exchange. Ideas to Reality strives to extend the reach of potential partnerships for entrepreneurs by providing a hub for entrepreneurs to interact with trusted service providers.

An often over looked type of partnership is co-opetition. This is where competing companies cooperate to create higher value than if they were to go it alone. An example of this is the airline alliances such as star alliance and one world. In the hyper competitive world of airlines, these alliances are seen as to critical survival. Open your mind to finding ways in which to work with your competitors. Entrepreneurs often see competition as a zero-sum game (i.e. it’s either you or them). Entrepreneurs needs to start looking at how to create win-win situations. We won’t see these opportunities without changing our mindset around competition. 

Complementary mix of founders 

Having a complementary mix of founders brings more of the secret sauce elements from above and mitigates risk through the sharing of expenses. Founders should not be brought on to solely fulfill non-secret sauce tasks like building an App. I’ve seen many startups looking for technical co-founders so that they can get their product built for little or no cost. Technology for most B2C applications is a commodity these days. Giving away founder equity for a commodity leaves less equity for bringing on additional team members and investment for other strategic initiatives. Bringing in an investor or someone to build technology should always include a secret sauce element. 

Bringing on more partners does bring more potential chaos through disagreements. Before formalizing an agreement with potential co-founders, work with each other for a while to see if your working styles and expectations align. Does everyone bring what they say they will bring? Does everyone share the same passion? Be sure to have a formal agreement in place before putting any money into the idea.

William Wong

I am the founder of Ideas to Reality. I collaborate with innovative visionaries to create tomorrow, fulfill their potential and prosper equally to their ambition.

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