Ideas aren’t everything


BY Sam Davies


5 October 2016

Reading Time: 3 minutes

We love it when people walk through the doors at DNHQ with a good idea. Good ideas are great. But what we really love is when the idea is backed up by a solid business plan and a realistic vision of how it can get off the ground.

Ideas are pretty easy to come by.  Sure, every now and then there are breakthrough, game-changing concepts but more often than not the idea is just a very small element in a successful product or service.

The analogy of a spark works very well. To build a fire you 100% need the spark but to kick things off there needs to be a solid foundation of kindling. Kindling doesn’t last for long, though. You need some solid logs to keep the blaze alive through the night. There are a lot of start-ups out there that have got the spark down pat. Some even have some newspaper and small twigs set up, and burn really bright, but not for very long. It seems counter-intuitive, but often a better approach is having the foundation for the fire complete before you light the spark.

Enough with the fire analogy, but I hope you see the point. We are always very careful to ask new potential clients about their strategy going forward with the business. It’s amazing that you want to totally disrupt [insert industry here] but how are you going to execute? The answer for a lot of people is that they expect the product WE build to do the execution for them. However, a product without a strong user acquisition model, or marketing strategy, or business plan, is not going to go very far. The product is, of course, important. Uber Wouldn’t work without the app. But Uber has not scaled to the point it is at now based on a game-changing idea and software alone. They spent the first 12 months after launch testing the waters in San Francisco and creating a well-documented geographic expansion playbook, which the teams in every new market used as their starting point. They starting chopping big logs and storing them while the kindling was just catching (ok, back to the bloody fire!).

So when Will Simpson walked into the studio and said he wanted to revolutionise Kris Kringle we didn’t jump out of our seats. Don’t get me wrong, his idea was really good. Create an easy to use platform that allows people to setup and execute office/family gift-sharing (Kris Kringle, Secret Santa etc). My thoughts initially jumped straight to the roadblocks for a project like this:

  • How will it be marketed?
  • Where will you get the gifts from?
  • How will you make money from the product?
  • Who will run the site?
  • How will freight / logistics be dealt with?
  • etc etc etc…

But Will was already on top of all of these. In fact, his idea spawned from the fact that he already owns and runs a boutique gift store. All of the issues surrounding freight, inventory and product sourcing had already been addressed. He was also ready to quit his role in operations and launch full time into this new venture (time is always the most valuable asset in any startup). He was essentially ‘pivoting’. ‘Pivoting’ is a word you hear a lot in the startup world and is often essential to creating a successful product. Many hugely popular products on the market have been born out of a pivot. Twitter, Groupon, PayPal, Starbucks, Instagram and Nokia all started out on a different trajectory to where they are now.

He had the spark (the idea), the kindling (access to giftware, suppliers, initial customer base) and a solid plan for preparing the logs (I am not going to divulge his entire business strategy at this point). This did get us excited. We love to get behind a product that has serious potential and allows us the capacity to do what we do best (design and develop incredible user experiences).

We have spent the last 3 months working closely with Will to design and develop the BETA launch for https://www.kkgifts.com.au/. A really cool way to setup and execute Kris Kringles. We had a ball engineering how the product works and Will (as all good startup owners do) has been tirelessly working behind the scenes, stocking the store with incredible gifts and starting the conversation with potential users online.

It is really fulfilling for us to be able to help create and watch an idea take form and shape. With the right foundation in place and the right people behind the scenes any good idea can become a roaring success. We hope that KK Gifts is one of them.

Run your office KK this year with – www.kkgifts.com.au

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Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir