February 27, 2008
I have an idea for a new venture that seems promising to me. Is it? I'm on my way to Silicon Valley to find out.I'm writing this at 36,000 feet on a flight from New York to San Francisco. My main reason for going is to meet with early stage technology companies and to interview them for InformationWeek's Startup City TV. I'll also be getting together with a few people who invest in new companies, and when I do, I plan to run my own idea for a new company past them to see if it has any potential.
Ideas are a dime a dozen. The copy of Sky Mall magazine in the seat pocket in front of me shows that it's possible to commercialize almost anything. From the NASA-inspired aluminum-frame recliner to the world's largest crossword puzzle (7' by 7') to the Rat Zapper Ultra, innovation comes in many sizes and shapes. My first challenge is to figure out if my idea is worth pursuing. I need to determine not only whether it's original and feasible, but if there's a market for it. That's hard to gauge from brainstorming with my circle of friends and acquaintances. I need to cast the net wider, consult some real experts. As it happens, I talk to people on the front lines of business innovation every day. They're about to become my informal advisory board. So, what is my bright idea? I don't want to reveal too much just yet, but I will say that it's a Web site and it's not related to my work as a technology journalist. It's rooted in a personal interest outside of the office. The site would have a heavy dose of Web 2.0 technology and principles behind it. For now, let's call it Project Melville. I realize going into this that my idea has a small chance of success. This "chronicle of a startup" could be a two-part series -- the hopeful beginning and the abrupt end. But I'm committed to giving it a try. Sand Hill Road, here I come.
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