What is it that enables any one particular startup to grow beyond its launch and catapult to a successful venture, even mega-successful? What I find to be absolutely fascinating is the simplicity of many of these ventures. Too often, people think their Big Idea has to be complicated as hell and difficult to explain to the average consumer or even a potential investor. How does that inspire confidence in your brand, product, or service? Well, it doesn’t. Sure, if you’ve acquired a specialized higher education for a highly specialized field and you’re at the top of your game (think bio-engineering or digital-something-or-other), then you can certainly discover a need or a problem and come up with an unrealized solution.
Or you could elevate an existing product or service to the 21st century.
Here comes a familiar story. Two students drop out of Harvard… it’s almost a cliché at this point. As if to have any sort of street cred you have to have signed the drop-out papers from a prestigious university and venture out into the Big Bad World without the security of that piece of paper proclaiming you to be educated.
But these two individuals did it right.
Umang Dua and Oisin Hanrahan were Harvard Business School students who hatched any idea simply because they had difficulties enlisting someone to clean their apartment. Sure, there’s Angie’sList.com, the popular review website to find a credible contractor or service or whatever you need for your home or business, but until these two launched their startup, Handybook, there wasn’t a service that actually booked your service or the contractor for you.
For years, we’ve been badgered by William Shatner and that little plastic gnome on how to find the cheapest and most reliable means of travel and lodging. A value, yes. An everyday necessity? No. But if you’re a homeowner or a property owner and are responsible for the upkeep of your residence, then at some point, you’re gonna need a plumber (among other services).
These two entrepreneurs developed and launched Handybook while still in school (you know… just in case it didn’t quite work…) and then signed themselves out of Harvard once they understood they had a fulltime job on their hands. Soon enough, their service of simplifying the process of locating, choosing, and enlisting the services of any type of handyman work spread from Boston to New York and San Francisco.
From the start, they approached investors to allow them to track their progress as they launched and generated cash and transactions. Venture capitalists’ mouths watered. Capital rolled in. They expanded and grew, and by 2014 they were in more than a dozen major US cities with more than 250 employees.
Their product speaks for itself, and that is the best marketing possible. In our modern world, we go online for everything, and the inspiration behind this concept forces one to slap their own forehead and say, “Why didn’t I think of that?”