Where to find some brainstormers to evaluate my businesses idea?
May 23, 2016 4:05 PM   Subscribe

Does a service exist where you can pay someone or a team of people to evaluate your business idea and provide an honest critique? Where do I go to find such people?

I have a business idea for a new service I want to develop. It sounds good to me in theory, but I'm having trouble getting other people excited about it as well as getting honest feedback. I don't know if the problem is with the business idea itself or my explanation of it as it takes more than a 30 second elevator pitch to explain it.

Where can i go to find people who can help me iron out the problems with my pitch or the business idea itself? I would be willing to pay some money for this service. Thanks in advance for your ideas.
posted by Gosha_Dog to Work & Money (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Check with your city government. Some cities, like mine, have departments where you can ask relevant questions like this.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 4:43 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Where can i go to find people who can help me iron out the problems with my pitch

Toastmasters comes to mind for this piece of it.
posted by Michele in California at 4:44 PM on May 23, 2016

Ask Mefi seems like it would do a good job with this. In 7 days ;)
posted by COD at 4:47 PM on May 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Have you thought about the Service Corps of Retired Executives? Cause that sounds like pretty much what they do...
posted by rudd135 at 4:48 PM on May 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

There are business incubators and startup pitch clubs springing up everywhere. They can be useful, but IME a lot are just circle-jerks and wannabe-VCs with no actual money to invest. Beware if anybody asks you for money for "help" with your idea. You'll probably do better if you can get some time with somebody who runs a business that's similar to yours in some way (same product/service, same customers, same location, etc.)
posted by spacewrench at 4:51 PM on May 23, 2016

If you're in the US, you might want to check out SCORE. It's free and there are chapters in every state. If you can't make it to an office they have video mentors.
posted by 6thsense at 5:43 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

Are you near a college with a business school/MBA program ? Does your county have any incubator type programs ?

(Where I live, the county works with the MBA school, and I've had friends who started new businesses get a lot of great consults: getting ideas, how to do the market research, etc)
posted by k5.user at 7:41 AM on May 24, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi! Business strategy consultant and serial entrepreneur here :) If you want to pay someone to help you with this, find a strategy consultant that specializes in new businesses. It's what we do. However, there are other options as well.

Firstly, some advice: If it takes more than 30 seconds to explain what your business does, you need to either simplify / streamline the business idea, or whittle down your pitch. This is pretty much non-negotiable. You must be able to explain your business quickly and clearly, and if you can't, you definitely have some kinks to work out. Ideally you should have a one-sentence basic overview, a 30 second blurb, and a longer 3 minute explanation.

I understand complex business concepts can be a pain to pare down, but part of the problem may be that you are too wrapped up in the many potentials for your business and haven't focused on one service / or one target market well enough. There is a saying here in startup land: "Do one thing well." I can't stress enough that even though your business might be able to do or provide tons of things, focus on the most valuable thing for your customers. This isn't just important for pitching the idea and getting VC, you need to be able to do this for your potential customers as well.

If you haven't really nailed down a *specific* target market, do so. Lots of new business owners think that by casting a wide net ("but everyone can use this!") that it will increase their chance of success. It doesn't. The more specific you can be about who will benefit the most from your service, the more successful you will be. You can gradually incorporate other markets and other services later, but for an initial run at this, you need to pick one thing, one market, and go from there. Ask yourself this: what is the one thing I can do the absolutely best that no one else is doing that people would be willing to pay for?

This book is an incredibly valuable resource. Go through the whole thing, plus the Business Model Generation (in the 'frequently bought together' section).

As far as where to go to get feedback, check Meetups and research start-up incubators and conferences in your area. My most recent client was accepted into an incubator that paid the whole team to live in Chile for 8 months while working with a variety of mentors and experts. There are lots of these, but you need to really nail down your business concept and plan before you can get accepted. The other option is attending Hackathons, where you pitch ideas and get feedback, and the most popular ideas get free coding from a team of developers.

Don't run right to the VCs. You may or may not get good advice about your pitch. Spend your time polishing your idea before approaching them, and network as much as possible so that when the time is right, you have established connections and will have a better idea of who might actually fund your project.

You can also get free mentors at micromentor.org. It's a great service that matches people with experts in their field, and I've found many excellent advisors there.

Best of luck!
posted by ananci at 10:55 AM on May 24, 2016 [2 favorites]

I recommend Clarity.fm.
posted by OCDan at 11:17 PM on May 25, 2016

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