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Is Silicon Valley Obsessed With Small Ideas That Don't Solve Problems?

This question originally appeared on CoFoundersLab: Why is so much of Silicon Valley obsessed with small ideas that don't solve a problem?

Answer from David Whitmer, Founder of Superfood


I spent the formative years of my career living and working in Silicon Valley. My input is not focused on apps or any specific technology. If you have a big idea and are looking to get funding, the best approach might be to focus on something small at the very beginning.  

In general, Silicon Valley and the tech industry are all about innovation. Some of the innovation turns out to be significant like semiconductors, PCs or the Internet. But at the beginning of every new venture, it’s always unclear just how far-reaching a new technology will be.

For example, I worked at Cisco during the internet’s heyday. As I understand it, when Don Valentine, the famous Sequoia Capital investor, put money into the company, it was not a foregone conclusion that Cisco would end up becoming a significant player in the worldwide internet infrastructure. In the beginning, Cisco’s founders wanted to build a device to help their PCs to connect to each other. The device they began developing is what we now know as a router. While I’m sure the Cisco founders had a vision, it was only a dream at the time to think that the router would lead to connecting PCs, tablets, phones and networks all over the planet.

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My point here is this: All innovation starts somewhere. Sure, at times it can feel like Silicon Valley investors are too focused on small items, but if you really dig into the industry you will find plenty of investment that is ultimately targeted at bigger innovation in areas such as food tech, green tech, bio tech, etc.

Angels and VCs are investing in start-ups and early-stage companies. These companies, by nature, have limited resources and can only accomplish so much. To use a baseball analogy, baseball games are won by base hits. If you were going to bet whether the batter at the plate would be more likely to get a base hit or hit a home run, you would make the safe bet of a base hit because, statistically, base hits are more likely outcomes than home runs.

Of course, investment is about ROI, and ROI is more predictable when a company needs a small amount of capital for a short-term return. Don’t expect Angels and VCs to invest in big ideas that don’t have an opportunity to return an investment in the near future. Before changing the world, you have to demonstrate the ability to do something small, like get base hits or connect two PCs. When you show you can do this, VCs will give you the funds to do something larger.


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Why is so much of Silicon Valley obsessed with small ideas that don't solve a problem? originally appeared on CoFoundersLab — the place to connect, meet, and collaborate with like-minded entrepreneurs.



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