IDC Projects — The Myth of the Big Idea
February 22, 2013 • Arch Grant News •
For many people, entrepreneurship is about the Big Idea; the product or service that will change everything. We see it pitched on Shark Tank, we see the chronicle of Facebook’s journey from Big Idea to internet titan in The Social Network. The stories are intoxicating and exciting, the ideas full of promise and optimism.
With four years of bootstrapping under our belts, IDC Projects is fairly comfortable stating that the myth of the Big Idea is a lie.
IDC Projects was formed in Rolla, MO some four years ago when a set of students at Missouri University of Science and Technology realized that their small college town had a university full of highly technical, intelligent students, and not much else. We started not with an idea, but with a team of like-minded individuals who saw a cognitive surplus that could be leveraged to build… something. What that something was wasn’t important.
Since our formation, we’ve gone through several Big Ideas; automated job applications, barcoding scanning on the phone, location-based games, and now mobile advertising. We’ve gotten government contracts, licensing deals, received grants and been through accelerators. Four years in business, and the only constant has been the people, becasuse we’ve carefully selected people with two specific qualities, qualities that all members of IDC Projects share.
First, everyone at IDC Projects gets frustrated. A lot. We get frustrated when we park cars, when we clean our homes, and when we go grocery shopping. We spend so much our life in this frustrated state because we are all uniquely sensitive to imperfect systems and products, to the pain points of everyday life. This frustration is where our Big Ideas come from; we’re frustrated because we not only see flaws, but we also see solutions to those flaws.
Our first (unreleased) project was an online resume tool, created because we were frustrated with applying for jobs.
Why do I have to keep filling out this same form over and over? Can’t the companies just share this info?
BarCodeScan was one of the first bar code scanning application for the iPhone, and we created it out of frustration with the shopping experience.
My phone has a camera on it, what to you mean I have to type the name of the product in order to price check it online?
Our current project started from a deep seated frustration with mobile advertising, forged during our time working on advertising-supported games.
Why am I seeing this ad again? It has nothing to do with me!
The second trait all IDC members share is a willingness to tackle these frustrations, even if we aren’t particularly well-suited to doing so. We’ve learned an incredible amount in our four years as a company, in large part because we regularly start projects we lack the expertise to complete them, with a willingness to learn as we go. We knew nothing about app development until we made our first app, nothing about advertising until we built Memory Matches, and nothing about location-based systems before we built Hazards. Sometimes this leads us to tackling problems that are outside of our abilities, but most of the time we find that a willingness to learn is all that it takes.
These traits, a sensitivity to imperfect systems and a willingness to bite off more than you can chew, are the heart of entrepreneurship, and they are hardly unique to IDC. I see these traits in the other Arch Grants companies, in the creators of the Arch Grants, and in my role models. They are what startups are truly about.
Chief Creative Officer