Selling umbrellas in the rain

The acid test for a startup/wannabe entrepeneur 

I pay for my morning coffee with cash, a pre-paid card, credit card or an app on my phone. In the event I’ve forgotten my wallet and phone, I can raid the stash of low denomination notes I keep in the car to pay parking/tolls. Consequently, I really don’t need, or want another way to pay for my coffee. Five payment methods is quite enough, thank you very much!

From reading Medium it appears offering a sixth payment method —metaphorically speaking — is the entrepenurial vison held by the founders of many startups. In fact, it seems many people are more in tune with the entrepenurial process than being an entrepenur. Their goals are clear—Angel Investory->Incubator/Combinator->VC. Getting entry into that chain is the fundamental, and perhaps only real aim.

So, from the perspective of a ‘non-entrepeneur’ what should they be doing instead. Its simple really. They should be asking does my idea pass the umbrella in the rain test?

I rarely have an umbarella with me when it rains. But, fortunately when I come out of the train station I’m met by a guy selling brollies for $10.

I have a need. He has the right product at the right price. He doesn’t need to argue buying one of his umbrella is better than getting soaked. Our hypothetical ‘new coffee payment app’ developers, on the other hand, need to argue and convince me their method is better than cash, or credit cards.

The umbrella guy is a real entrepreneur. No need for Angel Investors. Just a good idea and an eye for opportunity. So, instead of looking at ways to let me pay for my coffee 1.5 seconds faster, why not come up with an app that lets me order coffee when I get in the car, and not order once I get to the cafe. Like the umbrella guy noticing people tip-toeing through rain with their briefcase on their head, there are lines of people in cafes all standing with their cell phones in hand. Why aren’t they placing their orders, or just picking them up?

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Gerry McDermott

Scottish by birth and American by choice. Trying to write more clearly, take better photos, and read booksinstead of watching YouTube.