In a place like Silicon Valley, it can sometimes feel like companies are started simply because it’s the thing to do. Just as beanie babies were all the rage during my middle school years, I’ve met founders more enamored with the idea of starting a company than the technology being developed or problem getting solved. I understand this mindset as well as the next entrepreneur, because it mirrors my own path to finding the right idea to focus on.
This blog post was written by Keaton Swett, CEO, MindSumo.
The MindSumo Gents, members of Microsoft BizSpark
As young, hungry (and certainly wet behind the ears) entrepreneurs, my co-founders and I were eager to change how people shared opinions with friends developing a new photo-ranking web app. Users could post sets of pictures for their friends to rank in order of preference, providing a fun and social way to receive feedback through photo sharing. We quickly realized that the tool was more useful to teenage girls looking to get their friends’ opinions on outfits and haircuts than anything else. Nothing against teenage girls, but just weren’t passionate about building a product, (let alone a company) focused on that market.
So, we did what scores of entrepreneurs had done before us – we pivoted. Was it daunting and terrifying? You bet it was. Were there times we wondered whether we should have just continued with our old product? Too many to count. However, we knew that finding the idea we were truly passionate about was what we needed to be successful both personally and professionally.
Luckily, after a great deal of soul searching, market analysis, and advice seeking from mentors, we struck oil with the idea for a marketplace where companies post challenges for college students to solve. As recent college students ourselves, we were passionate about helping students stand out and prove their skills, while giving companies a better method for identifying student candidates. Thus, our new company MindSumo was born, and we have been enjoying the wild ride ever since.
Could the old photo-sharing idea have worked with a wide audience of teenage girls? Perhaps, but that’s not the point. The point is that founders work way too hard to focus on ideas that aren’t meaningful to them. It may sound cliché, but I think Confucius was onto something when he said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
What does MindSumo Do? In Keaton’s own words:
We help companies craft their challenges that are posted for college students to solve. This helps the companies get a much better feel for student candidates. We also are compiling a great amount of data with each student profile, which will one day be used as a search database for companies to identify the right candidates.