Turning Ideas into Businesses – easy if you’re piss*d off.

Every business starts with an idea. Whether it’s a Eureka moment, confused scribbles on a napkin or years of thinking around a problem, everything starts in someone’s head. Turning ideas into reality however is the tricky bit.

In the name of posterity I’ll be taking a trip back in time in this post. If you’re going to follow my trials and tribulations of Cuckoo Vine as a start-up, I think it’s important to know how it all started. In this post I’ll tell you how the concept of Cuckoo Vine was conceived, and I’ll convince you (and hopefully myself) that turning the idea into a reality was more than just a way to spend money faster than my girlfriend buys tops from ASOS.

Not all ideas are worth spending money on

It all started 6 years ago, with a dodgy roofer. He was due to come round and do some slating around some newly installed Velux windows. Earlier that day, whilst laying the carpet, I had ‘carpeted’ myself into the loft, losing the position of the loft hatch. This condemned me to a day without food, having to ‘relieve myself’ by climbing out onto the roof. The result was hunger-rage and a sense of humour failure by the time the roofer arrived. After freeing myself from my DIY carpet-prison as the roofer worked above me, I (foolishly) paid him for his work. Only after he left did I realise he had left all the old slates and waste up on the roof. Very bad form. I was not a happy customer.

I called him on his mobile and in no uncertain terms was told ‘tough luck’. It dawned on me that this must happen up and down the country. In the service industries and trades, you can’t just walk back with your receipt and demand a refund. You either can’t track down your dreadful builder, or your crap haircut is already stuck to your head. Consumer protection in the service sector is virtually non-existent. We rely on people being honest.

I looked on-line to find a platform to report back on my very own ‘rogue trader’. There was nothing out there! All the sites which served this purpose where either targeting different industries (e.g. Tripadvisor) or just badly put together.

This is when the penny dropped. There was a gaping hole in the market. Although the plan was shelved for a number of years (until I was stung by a rogue mechanic) this was the Eureka moment. When I realised that there was no real platform which served to help consumers sort businesses with real integrity, from those without a trace of it. I wanted to build something which would help the good businesses succeed, help consumers make a good choice, and put the rogue traders out of work. The plan started to grind into action.

So what can we take from the above? I think the lessons I learnt were:

  • Ideas CAN just come from nowhere, but they’re normally pretty rough ones. Taking them from an idea to a business model is where the work starts
  • You can’t OWN an idea. If its a good idea then it’s likely that someone else will have it too. This means we have to keep evolving to stay ahead of competitors. This can be good fun and t it keeps things exciting!
So that’s how the Cuckoo Vine business idea came into existence. In my next post I’ll tell you all about the business model and how it stacked up, which proved to be somewhat optimistic.