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How to Turn a Great Tech Idea Into a Business

Turning a promising tech innovation into a marketable product or service is hard work. Careful research and planning will increase your likelihood of success.

John Edwards

December 13, 2023

4 Min Read
 Reaching the target of product launch. New product launching in business industry. The way to success. Business startup, innovation
Cagkan Sayin via Alamy Stock

Many of today’s tech giants can trace their roots back to humble beginnings, developing their products or services inside single-room offices or backyard garages. Yet all had one thing in common: a great idea.

Transforming a promising concept into a marketable product or service requires a significant amount of planning and hard work. The rewards, however, can be substantial, sometimes even life changing.

First Steps

The first step in turning a promising idea into a business is simple: Does the concept make sense? Too many founders, especially tech-focused founders out of universities, develop great tech, but launch a business to commercialize their innovation without having any idea of customer demand, market fit, market size, or an appropriate business model, says Parag Batavia, founder of robotics company Neya Systems, in an email interview.

Go deep into customer discovery, advises Batavia who currently teaches robotics entrepreneurship classes at Carnegie Mellon University. “Think about the problems your tech could help solve, then go out and talk to potential customers,” he says. Fundamentally, business is about finding solutions to customer’s problems and doing it in a way that leads to revenue and profit. “If you haven’t identified the customer and the problem, then launching the company to commercialize the technology is premature.”

Related:How to Attract Venture Capital to Your Startup

Performing due diligence research should be the next step. “There’s a really good chance that someone has already thought of your idea, so you need to discover and learn what’s out there,” says Meir Bulua, founder and manager partner at venture capital firm Leverage VC via email. “Once you’re confident you have a valid business idea, that there’s a real opportunity, you need to start talking to everyone and anyone about your business idea,” he suggests. “Get feedback and advisors who can tell you which direction you can go in.” This is especially important if you are planning to spend other people’s money, Bulua adds.

Seeking Partners

It’s important to find people who are going to help you succeed -- partners you can bring into your business who can help you execute your vision, Bulua says. He recommends seeking individuals who can answer key questions related to fundraising, hiring, and all the other matters that, if you’re not a seasoned entrepreneur, you’ll need to know. “They can help you find the right path.”

Consider teaming with other businesses, advises Matthew Ramirez, a serial entrepreneur and investor, in an email. “This can be done through a strategic alliance or partnership,” he says. “By doing so, you can gain access to the necessary resources and expertise to help your business progress.”

Related:Avoiding the Top Mistakes Made by Tech Startups

Forming strategic partnerships can also be beneficial, since it’s a way to split expenses and potential risks with another party, Ramirez notes. It provides an opportunity to reach untapped markets and expand the customer base. “Collaborating with others can expedite your progress and help you achieve your objectives faster, compared to working solo.”

Batavia advises joining forces with an expert co-founder. “For instance, if you have a background in robotics technologies and want to start an ag-tech robotics company, look for a co-founder who has expertise in agriculture,” he explains. “This can be a former executive of an agricultural company, or a business leader in that space, or even just someone who owns or has owned a farm and has actual experience in the problem you are trying to solve.” The best founding teams have a mix of technical, business expertise, and visionary leadership, Batavia says.

Avoiding Mistakes

The biggest mistake is falling in love with your own idea, Batavia says. “The best founders fall in love with a problem, not a solution,” he notes. “If you fall in love with the problem you’re open to different solutions, which may or may not involve the technology that led you to start the company in the first place.”

Related:10 AI Startups to Watch

Founders often don’t understand their own limitations, believing they can do everything. “I’ve seen many calamitous, early mistakes from founders that were easily avoidable if they had just asked for advice or help,” Bulua says. Check your ego at the door. “For example, if you’re a product person, you may not be great at fundraising, and if you’re great at marketing and fundraising, you may not be great at product,” he says. “Success is found in filling these gaps.”

Parting Thoughts

Dedicate time to developing your listening skills. “Really learn to listen to customers and understand what they’re telling you,” Batavia says. “Customers want solutions to their problems, and many times they’re willing to give you their time so you can better understand what they need.”

Don’t rush into business without conducting in-depth technology and business research. It’s vital to thoroughly investigate your concept and ensure that it’s financially feasible before proceeding, Ramirez advises. “It’s also essential to have a capable team in place and to be ready to face the inevitable obstacles that will come your way.”

Finally, be sure to complete all the required paperwork. “This involves acquiring a business license, registering the business with the IRS, and recording it with the state,” Ramirez says. “Once these tasks are finished, the marketing efforts can commence.”

Read more about:

Technology Startups

About the Author(s)

John Edwards

Technology Journalist & Author

John Edwards is a veteran business technology journalist. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and numerous business and technology publications, including Computerworld, CFO Magazine, IBM Data Management Magazine, RFID Journal, and Electronic Design. He has also written columns for The Economist's Business Intelligence Unit and PricewaterhouseCoopers' Communications Direct. John has authored several books on business technology topics. His work began appearing online as early as 1983. Throughout the 1980s and 90s, he wrote daily news and feature articles for both the CompuServe and Prodigy online services. His "Behind the Screens" commentaries made him the world's first known professional blogger.

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