Michael C Hogan

Agile Product Development & Innovation Strategy


Can you start a start-up with a team but no idea? How?

Recently I responded to a question over on Branch and I want to share it here too.

Q: Can you start a start-up with a team but no idea? How?

Do you really have a team?

A group of people with talent that enjoy being around each other doesn’t necessarily translate into a good team. Before getting too far into things, useful experiment to try is to see if the team can complete a small DIY Arduino or web project together. Pick something that takes a few weeks. This will give everyone a feel for what it’s really like to work together. It’ll also build confidence that, yes, you can work together.

The process of actually working together will help surface lots of little things that can make or break a team. Here are a few questions to think about:

  • can the team make decisions?
  • do people show up when needed?
  • how do people respond to feedback?
  • how are disagreements resolved?
  • is everyone pitching in?
  • how do people talk with each other?

Can you find an idea in time?

What happens after you’ve got a team depends on (1) how much cash your team has to burn while finding an idea that floats and (2) how rapidly you’re able to find a customer with a problem your team can solve and who will buy your teams help/product. Google #JTBD (Christensen), Breakthrough Thinking (Nadler) or Lean Startup (Ries) for three methods your team can use to find a worthwhile idea to work on.