Finding a startup idea can be difficult. In fact, the most common excuse for inaction among otherwise entrepreneurial people is simply the lack of an original or groundbreaking business plan. Such ideas rarely spring forth fully-formed, and it can be discouraging to have a passion for starting with nothing to start. The Praxis experience is uniquely suited to solving this dilemma.
In my past six months in the program, I have learned and created more by helping others start and grow their own ventures than I could have hoped to expect from waiting for an idea to strike. In fact, my experiences have often enough been directly analogous to many of the common experiences of those who have created startups.
My work with my business partner BitPay has allowed me to directly participate in the exponential growth of a young company while reaching well beyond the “comfort zone” of a traditional internship. I have had the experience of marketing and directly selling a technology still unfamiliar to the majority of the world’s population, and I have seen the values and processes that make for a strong company culture, product innovation, and user loyalty.
In joining a podcast as a co-host and producer, I have experienced the challenges and pleasures of co-founding a project with other similarly strong-willed individuals. We are faced with the need to create and market a product, attract and retain users, and build a brand just as surely as any startup. Unlike most startups, we hear our successes and failures recorded permanently every week. The feedback is immediate, and the cycle of time available to iterate and improve is short. There is something to starting on the ground floor with a podcast which requires the hustle and the slightly enjoyable feeling of desperation which seems to accompany early-stage entrepreneurship. I would recommend the experience.
During none of this time have I had a clear and world-changing startup idea, but I have found that I have developed an entrepreneurial relationship with my work. If entrepreneurship is the discovery and creation of new value in previously unimagined ways, there remains plenty of fertile ground for projectless founders in co-founding, supporting, and helping to start the projects of others.
I would give one word of warning: take care to not lose sight of your own independence when attaching yourself to other projects. Avoid the employee mindset like the plague, and test yourself by asking if you feel personal liability for the project. If you do not feel that project or company failure would damage your reputation as an individual, you may not have the “skin in the game” or the ownership of an entrepreneur. This can be valuable feedback – there is an element of entrepreneurship in selectively choosing the projects and people to which you give your time. On the other hand, if you do feel this liability, you may be thinking like a co-founder, and you may find yourself filling that role soon enough.
Help others start. There are few better ways to find your own ability to generate new ideas than to generate value now.