Where should I go with just an idea, no capital or product or partners?


I have read the FAQ and hope that I have added enough detail to my question that it will not be considered to vague or open.

I have a great idea for a software product that I think could make a lot of money. It is not specifically my idea, it is a technology so far with only niche implementations. My goal is to bring it to the masses by solving in my implementation the problems that have prevented mass adoption so far.

I feel like I am somewhat on a time limit as the technology is already starting to emerge, and if I don't get out a product in the next few years someone will. It is why I also feel I need an investor,a s by the time I raised the necessary money I may have missed my opportunity.

I have no capitol, and no chance of investing personally for a long while. I have no product as it is too complex for me to develop on my own, and honestly I think I would lack the skill for the more advanced parts.

So I would like to know, what can I do? My plan so far is to have a business plan and try to pitch various investors. However, I do not even have a way to find investors or schedule meetings.

I am reluctant to have a partner not because I worry about sharing profit, but because I don't want to compromise the vision I have for my company and product.

Many people have started with nothing and just an idea, although such stories tend to be scant on details. Any advice on different avenues or partners to pursue would be much appreciated.

Ideas Planning Investment

asked Jun 6 '11 at 00:06
Sonny Ordell
197 points
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8 Answers


  1. Work on a prototype. Or at least a very self explanatory powerpoint.
  2. Network as much as you can. Local investors, VCs, or even startup gatherings. Network with potential customers. A potential customer could become an investor if they really see a value in the idea.
  3. Create business plan. Research and have it ready, you never know when you will run into a VC and he/she may ask for it. Know how much to raise too.
  4. Sign up customers. At least verbally so that you will always have motivation. This will also help you raise money when you pitch.
  5. Design product and technical documents (if you are good at it). Why waste time? Start doing the prep work right away. You will be amazed how time consuming and expensive each task would be.

Just be ready and stay motivated. If you have good amount of experience in running companies or know lot of big shots in the industry, it will happen sooner than you know.

answered Jul 4 '11 at 19:50
365 points


Did you already figure out how to solve the problems that have prevented mass adoption? Are you sure? Really sure? If you were able to figure out this solution then how come no one else has?

I'm not saying that your proposed solution isn't going to work -- although there is a big chance it won't -- but you should identify what you are bringing to the table.

The first thing you should do is find customers. It doesn't matter that you don't have the product yet, because you do have the idea for the solution (right?). If you can match up the problems of those customers with your solution, then finding capital and partners shouldn't be too hard.

answered Jun 6 '11 at 01:08
119 points
  • Yes, I am very sure. It isn't that other people were not able to to, but did not try or did not consider it worth the effort. I know what I am bringing to the table and am confident I can sell my point. How should I find customers without a product? My product servers a need so I have no doubt I will get customers, but it's kind of hard without something in place to sell... – Sonny Ordell 11 years ago
  • You can certainly sell people on the idea even if the product doesn't exist yet. But if you can't sell people on the idea, then it's also not worth building the product. – Hollance 11 years ago
  • Well sure, but selling customers on the idea a year before it would be finished does not seem like the best strategy? – Sonny Ordell 11 years ago
  • -1 For "If you were able to figure out this solution then how come no one else has?". How come nobody else invented the airplane before the Wright brothers? This question could be asked for every invention and is always impossible to answer. – David 11 years ago
  • @David: I asked because often what seems like a good idea is something that many others already tried and realized it wasn't so good after all. If there seems to be an obvious market for an idea, yet no one is going for it, then maybe there really isn't a market for it. So it's worth figuring out why none of the other players in this field are going for this particular solution. – Hollance 11 years ago


To create value you need to do something that others aren't. If you don't know how to implement the idea and others will soon, why do you need to be involved?.

Is there anything you can add that others won't do? If it's something small, it's probably not worth the trouble. If it's a very large difference you just might be able to put together a business based on it. If it's in between the best course may be to partner with someone who is developing the idea now.

answered Jun 6 '11 at 00:58
474 points
  • I can't develop my implementation in software by myself, but I am extremely familiar with the technology and would guide the implementation and additional details and policies, of which there are many. No one else is working on my idea at present that I can find, and I have done quite extensive research. After my product is introduce there may well be copies of it, but like in many areas I will succeed or fail based on the strength of my product. – Sonny Ordell 11 years ago
  • In that case you may want to go to customers first. If you can convince them that there is value and you can solve their problems they just might be willing to put down a deposit to get the product; if you can hire someone to develop it fairly quickly that might work. Otherwise (if they are interested) you would need to look for developers who will work for equity or investors; there may be local angel groups you can go to for help. Or if it's anything web-related it's pretty easy to find some investors online and talk to them. – Richardg 11 years ago
  • It isn't web related, it's quite technical and would take at least six months to get something out the door. I don't have an office or anything to work out of....my plan was to find investors so I could get an office and hire programmers and start making money and getting clients while the development is ongoing. – Sonny Ordell 11 years ago
  • Unfortunately I don't have a good answer - there are investors who could do that, you might just need to talk to a lot of people to get to what you need. In the meantime it wouldn't be too early to talk to clients if it would take less than a year to develop since they've probably lived with the problem much longer than that. That feedback would be very valuable. – Richardg 11 years ago
  • Just got the idea of incubators from http://www.brightjourney.com/q/raise-capital-idea-team-market - they aren't available everywhere but a local example (for me) is http://www.springboardwest.ca/. If you find one out of your area and contact them they might be able to refer you to a closer one. – Richardg 11 years ago


I suggest you, if you afford to do so, to move to the Silicon Valley.

Not that I have the experience myself, but when you look at many successful startups (notably Facebook), they benefit quite a lot from what they got from the Valley.

  1. You find bright elites, engineers.
  2. You got more investors, and those who are more willing to take risks
  3. Investors are kind of willing to try - I mean, like being OK even if you failed on the first time, but you are able to know the reasons u failed, they will be like "ok, here's the funding of the 2nd round, now don't let us down"

I got the above from the book "Founders at Work" (Jessica Livingston).

Or if you are able to, talk to guys at Y-Combinator, they have a program to mentor startups, you just need to fill in an application form (instead of doing the biz plan and stuffs), they will fund you, not a lot in terms of money, but a lot in terms of support and advices. Also, I think they aren't the type of "you sucks and therefore we would kick you out and find another competent one" investors.

answered Aug 16 '11 at 01:19
Im Chc
38 points


the usual thing (and what investors respect) is to find a friend or a coworker and start building it.

OR as you say you can not do it alone (the complex parts) and IF you REALLY have no one to start with - START with what you can do and someone (twitter, facebook, internet in general) will find you and may just want to help you make it.

pitching IDEAS to investors is a futile job.

the questions they would ask (if they cared enough to actually ask them):

can you build it? have you built it?
you could find no one to help you make it? no friend, relative, coworker would do this with you? you have no money? started nothing? ...
you can see where this is going.

in the old days, you could make a business plan and go to a bank, but that is no longer a viable option.

THE ONLY options you have is to either start building it yourself or find someone to help you.

answered Jun 7 '11 at 20:19
316 points
  • I have no coworkers as I have worked for myself for the last 7 years or so. Certainly no friends or relatives can help, with money or expertise. I really need to find initial investors, but have no idea where to start. – Sonny Ordell 11 years ago
  • i can only repeat - i do not see it viable that any investor (short of your mom, dad, in laws, friends) would invest any money in 'an idea' no matter how good it is if you have no one to do it with and nothing to showcase. – B0x0rz 11 years ago


How about going after your target audience and get genuine input for them to show that there is a viable marketplace and proven demand for your product or service. And then take to to investors, developers etc. It will make things much easier.

You can even do a rough sketch, wirframe or a basic photoshop mockup to help explain things better.

answered Jun 7 '11 at 23:50
11 points


I was stuck with similar dilemma weather to express and publish my idea or try and develop on my own and then one of my friend pointed out some of start up consulting firms.
So now I am mocking up a business plan to present to them and hope to get some positive review and a chance to materializes my idea in actual product.
I think you should do the same, contact some consultant even if they don't angel invest their self the guidance could be very much valuable for you.

answered Jul 4 '11 at 19:16
Abhishek Sakhaparia
41 points


First of all, I wish you the best of lucks in this adventure.

Said that, I am going to be the devil's advocate here.

So you have an idea, no money, and no partners, so far, to implement it. Hence, you are looking for external investors to, well, risk their capital and their reputation on something that doesn't even exist! Am I the only one who thinks you have no chance at all to build this thing?

Unless you have come up with the next Coca-Cola, or you are considered a maverick in your industry and have a stellar reputation, no venture capitalist will ever want to partner with you. From the VC point of view, if your idea is so marvelous, why don't you invest in it? Surely you could come up with a basic prototype for a few thousand dollars.

Let's be realistic here. Success is for risk takers. Building something from scratch requires taking risks. Without taking risks, such as bringing in new partners, coworkers, and sharing your project with other people, it will be very difficult for you to see this thing through. You basically have two options here: don't take any risks, keep this project to your chest, and nothing will happen. Or, you could start looking for partners, programmers, and start building it. And yes, this requires putting your money, your reputation, where your mouth is. Entrepreneurship is a serious and risky business.

Now let's focus on the positive things and a hypothetical game plan. You know your product inside and out, you have the skills to build it, or at least to get the ball rolling. All you need is a bit of money and time. Why don't you resort to the three Fs? Family, friends and fools? Not necessarily in that order. Get some money from your inner circle, but set the expectations very low. Don't promise too much. That should be enough to come up with something that you could show to potential investors. Don't worry too much about the skills you needs. Ideally, you should find the partners with the skills you lack but who also BELIEVE in the product. Don't just look for brains, look for hearts too. You could go to a nearby college and look for some bright and motivated students. Network, network, network.

If you don't invest in your own baby, why would anyone else do it? Good luck.

answered Aug 16 '11 at 01:42
A. Garcia
1,601 points
  • I appreciate your answer, but as I said in the question the three F's are not an option. I can develop a simple prototype on my own, but not the full product. – Sonny Ordell 11 years ago
  • Well how much do you need? – A. Garcia 11 years ago

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