“Creativity is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration” – Thomas Edison
In the corporate world, there’s a standard ladder to climb to get to the top. In the world of entrepreneurship, there is a similar ladder to climb. Entrepreneurs should start with small ideas and learn how to execute those ideas. Learn how to gain traction, learn from your mistakes, and learn how to make something out of nothing. And eventually the ideas you pursue get bigger and bigger.
I’m a firm believer in execution and follow the Thomas Edison quote pretty closely. The secret behind launching your startup idea is to always move the ball forward on your ideas through execution. Every journey for an entrepreneur is completely different but I’d like to share the process that eventually led to the launch of Skillshare.
1. Exploration & Execution. This is a time for the entrepreneur to creativelyexplore his/her personal interests, ideas (small or big), and consume as much of the world as possible. For me, this involved traveling around the world, reading as many articles/books as possible, meeting as many interesting people I could fit into a day, and executing ideas.
I also knew that I wasn’t ready to be an entrepreneur so I gained startup experience by working at Behance and Hot Potato. On the side, I launched a ton of small ideas including The Feast Conference, By/Association, World Series of Good, TBD, and Lovely Day. By executing all these smaller ideas, the filter for what I wanted to work on got higher and higher.
The idea for Skillshare didn’t happen overnight. It took 5+ years of climbing the ladder of ideas and immersing myself in a lot of different experiences. There is no rush in understanding yourself and your passions. Keep in mind that most entrepreneurs get stuck in this stage because they never execute anything. The more you execute, the more your learn about yourself and your passions. Your goal at this stage is to find a problem you are truly passionate about solving.
2. Brainstorming & Validation. While I was exploring, I wrote down a list of startup ideas, which quickly became a list of over 100+. From there, I narrowed it down to a few ideas and flushed them out extensively. I brainstormed ideas, sketched wireframes, and did everything else I could to understand the opportunity with Malcolm Ong (Skillshare Co-Founder).
We fell in love with one idea around democratizing education and turning cities into huge campuses, which eventually became Skillshare. Rather than spending nights and weekends flushing out the idea even more, we let the idea sit and marinate for a pretty long time. I personally spent a lot of time validating the idea as I didn’t want to fall in love with it too easily. In other words, I did all the research I could to convince myself this was worth my time, which is the true goal at this stage.