There Are No Billion Dollar Ideas

By Ashrit Kamireddi WG’14, co-founder and CEO of VeryApt

One hard lesson I had to learn pretty early on as an entrepreneur is that ideas by themselves don’t matter. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone tell me they had the idea for Facebook or Seamless years before it was created.  And that’s just it.  There is nothing special about realizing that food delivery could be easier and more efficient.  Figuring out the operational logistics, developing the business relationships, and figuring out the revenue model is where all the complexity is.

Billion dollar bill

What’s worse than thinking your idea is unique? Being worried that everyone you talk to might steal your idea.  I’ve been there – most entrepreneurs probably have.  There is no quicker way to look like an amateur than to talk to an investor or an advisor and hand them an NDA.   Quite frankly, no one is going to sign an NDA and if you are worried that someone is going to steal your idea then you probably shouldn’t be doing business with them in the first place.  Of course, you always want to be careful to avoid sharing the special sauce (algorithms, proprietary processes, etc.).  As an entrepreneur, you quickly learn that ideas by themselves are hollow promises. Typically, you don’t really even understand your business until you’ve been working on it for at least six months, and even then, the business model will continually change.  Successful startups are built on creative execution, operational expertise and a whole lot of hard work – there are no billion dollar ideas.

Don’t be afraid to share your idea with as many people as possible.  Every conversation is an important step towards validating your idea.  In order to get our startup, VeryApt, off the ground, my co-founders and I leveraged our respective career networks and Wharton alumni network to develop a better understanding of the real estate market and the competitive space.  We then spoke with many property management companies, leasing agents, and brokers to refine our business model.  In the process, many of our early conversations turned into investors or customers.

There are certainly bad ideas for startups. But every good idea is only as good as its execution: worry less about finding that billion dollar idea, and more about how to make your idea happen.

Cropped HeadshotBio: Ashrit Kamireddi (WG’14) is the co-founder and CEO of VeryApt, a personalized apartment search startup that combines data driven apartment recommendations with verified user reviews.  VeryApt placed 3rd in the 2014 Wharton’s Business Plan Competition. The six person VeryApt team, which includes another WG‘14 (Scott Bierbryer) and two Wharton MBA interns (Jason Reaves WG’15 and Rohit Gupta WG’15) worked out of 2401 Walnut for the summer, and will be staying in Philadelphia to work on VeryApt full-time.