When Starting, Look For Early Signals

4 years ago, I was pursuing an idea with the backing and help of a successful venture capitalist.

Our idea was to create NFTs for entertainers, which would enable them to connect with (and reward) their fans in unique ways. This idea isn’t revolutionary today, but 4 years ago, it was well ahead of the curve. Blockchain was well known, in 2018, but people hadn’t pursued very many NFT uses cases at that point. We thought giving fans a digital wallet and airdropping digital collectibles would be well received. We envisioned a platform where entertainers could reward their fans for their concert attendance, social media activity and more. We had a great plan.

And then, we started talking to entertainers and their managers…

We visited with several entertainers and their managers, and we received a lot of confused looks.
It wasn’t that we weren’t describing the opportunity correctly… it was a matter of timing.

Blockchain and NFTs weren’t mainstream and what we were offering seemed too risky. Entertainers and their managers had some concerns, but I thought that none of the concerns were deal breakers for us to move forward. My VC partner disagreed… and I thought he was wrong.

After visiting with a few of the largest talent managers and several big entertainers/celebrities, we decided to put the venture on hold. There was something that just wasn’t sitting right with the people we were meeting with. I wanted to keep pushing forward. My friend thought we had found out enough to pull the plug on the whole idea and move on. We shelved the idea and never went back to it.

For a while, I was mad at my friend. I thought we just had to work harder and meet the right people. He told me something valuable:
“The early signals just aren’t there, Aron. People should be overly excited about what we have planned. If we can’t get interest at this early stage, then it will be an uphill battle forever.”
I disagreed.

But you know what, he was right.

Now I look for ‘early signals’ that I’m on the right track:

People freely giving me their email address for more information

People telling me to hurry up and finish the product because they want to buy

Putting an MVP in people’s hands and them telling me “this is awesome!”

People following up with me (not the other way around) to check progress and to find out when we’re launching

If you’re meeting with your ideal customer, look for early signals that you’re solving a problem. Get their feedback and mold what you’re doing to fit their needs.
I was trying to force this NFT concept forward, and no one was loving it.
Don’t do that.

Best of luck!

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