Does your idea already exist?


Startup Ideas: How do you know if your startup idea already exists?

Carlos Del Carpio, Analytics & Entrepreneurship

The founder of Dropbox was pitching in front of an investor one day, and the investor asked him: “there are similar companies out there doing the same as dropbox, why should I invest in just another similar company?”

His reply: “Yes. There are similar companies out there doing the same as dropbox. But do you use any of them?”



“Because they are bad.”

“Ok. That’s what Dropbox wants to solve.”

So bottomline: Ask your potential customers.

Any business idea is a solution to someone’s problem out there. Ask them if they are solving it, how they are solving it, and if they would be willing to pay to have it solved.

It doesn’t matter if it already exists if it can be done better.

NetZero Founder explains Pivots

Alexa H

Reflective Journal Entry #2

Start-Up Grind: Stacy Haitsuka


The event I attended was held on November 11 at Work-In-Progess in downtown, a workspace for startups. The event was hosted by Start Up Grind, which is a networking event held monthly at a different location in the Vegas valley. The speaker was Stacy Haitsuka, one of the founders of the Internet service provider, NetZero. It was nice to hear him talk about his start in the business world, as I have only known him for about 3 years as he has worked with my father. Stacy discussed the beginning days of NetZero and how he and the other founders built the company and went from early funding to going public in just a years time. He then went on to talk about co-founding a venture capital firm and his latest project, something a little different, within the music industry.

It wasn’t until a question came, later on, from the audience, that Stacy made a really good point relating his experiences to something we’ve been quite frequently discussing in class, pivots. The question was centered around his most recent project, an internet based company which allows undiscovered artists a platform to connect with music industry professionals. Stacy talked about how crucial it is to know when it is necessary to pivot in your business, or to just make a minor change back and forth in order to keep in line with demand.

Previously, I had it in my head that pivots were meant to be some major change that would dramatically effect the nature of the business one way or another. Stacy had a way of describing how his current venture makes pivots that allowed me to rationalize the difference.  There are some pivots, which we make everyday in order to allow for the company to sway back and forth with the external effects of the business world, and they are just as crucial as those “ah-ha” moments which really define our larger pivots.  I really appreciated his explanation of that as well as his advice and answers to others questions. Overall, it was another real world example of someone who pushed through the trials and tribulations of early entrepreneurship, and has some amazing experience to show for it.

Is Entrepreneurship good?

My career to a certain degree benefits from what I see as a positive bias toward entrepreneurship and small business. I admit that I have held this view, that entrepreneurship is always good. However, as I’ve thought about it more and done more research, I have come to believe that, at least in America, we have built up entrepreneurship as some panacea. Politicians of every shade of political leaning keep saying that what we need is entrepreneurship. I think that this is a sign that perhaps we might be building the starting of a business up to be a secular religion.

This article from the Economist provides one point of information that indicates that perhaps not all statistics of entrepreneurship and small business are signs of economic prowess. I think that their point, that having a lot of startups or a lot of small businesses is not necessarily a good thing, makes sense.


There are many reasons that companies are small or big that likely drive statistics. So the answer to “Is entrepreneurship good?” is most likely, “It depends.” I think that the problem is that people with a set ideology try to find statistics that support their view, even if they don’t understand the statistics. Moreover, they are never willing to admit that there are conditions where they could be wrong. Finally, there is not sufficient statistical understanding that the public can think through false claims. I hope that academics can play an increased role in helping to provide better information and better interpretation of the data that we have.

Resource acquisition

This interview with Richard Branson is related to some of the research on resource acquisition that Nachiket and I are working on. A few points that I see from this interview is that there are sometimes conflicting interests. What is is in the interest of the business and the entrepreneur are not always aligned. So the business might be able to grow more quickly, but Branson says that retaining control is important. This seems acceptable, since business is not all profit-motivated. But I think it’s an interesting to note that the conclusion is that perhaps the entrepreneur is giving up some financial return by retaining control. This relates to our study of which resource acquisition sequences tend to lead to improved performance for the firm.

This interview also illustrates another project that I am starting on how resource providers’ attitudes toward entrepreneurs and small organizations influence startup activities. Branson says that he had employees that wanted to work in small organizations. Much of his assumptions are based on a Western, individualistic notion of work. These assumptions seem to be limited in other cultural contexts, and may explain differing methods of innovation across contexts.

Reality show impacts on industry

My officemate and I were talking about how reality shows provide us access to different industries and careers, and how that may affect the industries themselves. Here’s an article saying how the storage auction reality shows are influencing the storage industry. It’s an interesting phenomenon to me because it requires individual business owners to be directly involved, but the benefits (or costs) are experienced differentially by the rest of the industry.

Pawnshops going legit

This is an interesting article about brick-and-mortar businesses have been transitioned to the internet. However, what I think is more interesting is the role to try to legitimize the pawn shop industry. It seems to be inherently predatory, at least in my experience (I’ve looked to buy at pawn shops and know people that sell to them). The use of a reality show is an interesting way to build the legitimacy for the entire industry. I wonder if the National Pawnbrokers Association helped to push the reality shows. My family and I love what I’ve seen of Pawn Star. It seems like a good industry association strategy.

Smart Phone app for shopping

In our first class (Spring 2009), one of the groups proposed to develop a smart phone app used to compare products in nearby stores. I think that the members of this team moved on to other things. It’s now the big thing for Black Friday!

Making an app?

We’ve had several groups come up with ideas for mobile applications. This interview with I-fund’s Matt Murphy talks about an investment fund that is specifically focused on mobile apps. The new I-Pad architecture creates a lot of new opportunities in this space.|+Interview+with+the+iFund%27s+Matt+Murphy/43169521001/43799931001/609496385001