Have you ever had writer's block? It sucks.
Well picture being a creative entrepreneur - the type who normally thinks of new business ideas in the shower, while watching TV, or even just walking down the street - and suddenly developing the equivalent of a horrible case of writer's block in the midst of trying to decide on an idea for your new business. Now imagine this happening with some capital already raised, investors waiting, and your first employee already hired. Yikes! Welcome to my winter!
I began preparing for DCL Ventures as soon as I knew I was leaving SNAP last fall. I started a Google Doc for keeping track of new ideas as they popped into my head. Years ago I kept a list like this by pen and paper and it often numbered close to 100. So this time, with months to prepare and years more of incredible experience under my belt, I was excited to build my new list and get to work. I put my first idea down last September. It was in an area that I was exceptionally passionate about, but I couldn't come up with much more than a general premise. I quickly moved on. I continued thinking about things I was passionate about and putting more high level ideas on paper. None of them seemed to go anywhere beyond just a general concept. This became a recurring theme. It was fine though. You need to have some bad ideas in order to get to the good ideas, right? I figured I just needed to finish up at SNAP in January, clear my head a little, and then the floodgates would surely open. They didn't.
Throughout the winter I continued putting ideas on my doc. Some were pretty good, but none of them generated the type of passion or enthusiasm where I felt like I could talk about them all day and wanted to work on them all night. In fact, the longer I went without experiencing that feeling, the more pressure I began to feel. I was still waiting for that spark. For the lightning bolt to strike.
One night a couple of months ago I was watching an old favorite, "Coming to America." Despite having seen it countless times, it's one of those movies that I'll always leave on when I come across it. I know all the lines by heart. But this time, for some reason, one line in particular caught my attention: "The first instinct is usually the correct one." I repeated it in my head. The first instinct is usually the correct one. I said to myself "yup...that's really true." I wasn't even thinking about it in a business sense but as my mind soon drifted back to business I thought to myself "so...what was my first instinct for my new project?"
Well, my first instinct - the first idea I put down on that Google doc - was to do something in an area that I'm extremely passionate about: animals. I LOVE animals. Nothing would make me happier or feel more rewarding than running a successful business in the pets space while helping animals in the process. Maybe it was the seasons that passed in between the creation of the Google Doc and that spring night, maybe it was approaching things with a clearer head, or maybe it was just the way the stars were aligned that night, but revisiting that initial concept suddenly caused the ideas to begin flowing like water and opened up discussions that seemingly went on forever.
Whatever the explanation is, I've now begun work on something that I think will change the way people find pets and do a lot of good in the process. Everyone I've shared the concept with absolutely loves it. I couldn't be more excited about it and I truly can't wait to begin sharing it with the world. I really missed this feeling! In the legendary words of Michael Jordan (and Randolph Duke), "I'm back!"
PS Thanks Akeem!