1. Find an area of the world that you are instinctively excited and curious about. Even better if it is a unique intersection of interests that you and your team share. Music analytics was not something people were asking about or searching for several years ago, we were creating a new market.
Each day at Next Big Sound, rather than getting more routine, it gets more interesting as we go down the rabbit hole gathering more data, signing on more customers, understanding their questions better, and providing answers which lead to more questions. This is only possible because of our innate curiosity and excitement about finding the Truth in this arena.
2. Start talking with as many other people as you possibly can about your idea and the part of the world you are most interested in. You never know who has a cousin/friend/classmate who shares a similar fascination and you want to expose yourself to as much serendipity as humanly possible. The famous saying is “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” I don’t think that’s entirely right. I think it’s more about who knows you. If you are the guy or gal always talking about bitcoin 10 years before it’s all over Techcrunch or the person obsessed with photography 5 years before Instagram’s sale makes headlines, opportunities will find you.
3. Once you’ve found the sector and others who share your enthusiasm it is time to run as fast as you possibly can. This means real validated learning with customers and users. In the early days don’t be too obsessed with A/B testing (since you have no users this will take weeks to run and provide questionable data) – build product, put it in front of people, get their feedback, rinse and repeat. At Next Big Sound we are 25 people and still trying to speed these cycles up no matter the cost. We moved the entire company from Boulder to New York City to be able to put new product in front of end customers in the music industry in half the time from when we were in Boulder. These cycles can never be fast enough.