The Process - Chapter 2 - The Obsession With Innovation
Ideas, ideas, ideas. More than we could ask for - just not the right ones.
As we were shooting each other’s ideas down, we gradually came to realize it would be more effective to set ground rules before initiating the process of brainstorming - a few parameters that we could agree upon which would build the foundation of the idea:
- The technological expertise required to create the initial version of the idea should be minimal since none of us were that involved at a technical capacity with coding or any IT based subjects.
- The personal costs to initiate the idea should be close to nothing - since we had pretty much close to nothing in our savings accounts.
- The idea should have a certain outlet for each of us to express ourselves creatively, analytically and emotionally. An idea that we could be passionate about it. We were eager to learn but we wanted to enjoy the process.
- The number of components in the business cycle should be manageable by a couple of us. Simplicity was crucial.
- Take advantage of our status as university students. Create an offering that caters to that market so that we can not only sell products to our customers but also connect with them.
And then there was a lot less talking and a lot more thinking happening.
We tried to stay small - from key chains to mugs to food carts.
Among the numerous words each of us threw up, ‘hoodies’ made an appearance. We were revisiting it - an idea one of us had considered once, but discarded due to lack of innovation.
So we sat there trying to think of ways to make the ‘hoodie’ something more. Our collective thought process went something like this:
Hoodies for students
Students in university
Groups of students in university
Hoodies for groups
Customized hoodies for groups
We sat there looking at each other. “Not innovative enough.”
Then we started thinking about ways to make it “cooler”, gradually relapsing back into our old ways.
There were a few suggestions thrown around that obviously needed way more than we actually had in terms of manpower, money and expertise. We thought we had something.
At this point If I recall correctly, we were overstaying our welcome at that Chinese restaurant. We disbanded.
A few weeks passed. The “let’s start a business” high was dying down.
One September morning I received a voice note. To paraphrase the enthusiastic sentiment, it essentially went “Dude, are we going to do something about this hoodie thing or what. Cuz if you haven’t noticed, winter is coming.”
I laid there on my bed staring at the ceiling realizing I had almost discarded yet another pursuit but this time round, there was a hand offering to pull me out of the pit. I realized I shouldn’t take that for granted - I lunged out of my bed, texted him we were getting to work and opened up my laptop.
As we spent the next couple days trying to flesh out the “innovative” idea we had landed on before disbanding, we began to understand how hard it would be to make it happen and do it the right way.
We took a second. We re-winded to why we wanted to do this in the first place - to learn. We had to stay practical and accept our faulty obsession with innovation - the invisible shackles holding us down from actually doing.
And that’s what we did.
We ditched the ‘innovative’ feature.
Sure there’s competition selling hoodies.
We just had to do it better.
We just needed to believe in the product and more importantly in each other.