LinkedIn started not with an idea, but with a team of passionate, brilliant people who knew that they could learn from one another. This runs contrary to the conventional wisdom that a venture must begin with an idea for a product or service. LinkedIn Co-Founder Konstantin Guericke argues in an essay for EIX.org that it’s more important to surround yourself with great thinkers and honest advisors, which helps the best ideas emerge.
Did you know that before LinkedIn, Guericke and his other co-founders batted around a lot of crazy ideas — including better phone systems, self-updating address books, online petitions, even a site to memorialize the dead? Guericke and co-founder Reid Hoffman, who were introduced by a mutual friend, eventually decided to launch an online service that could do for other professionals what their friend did for them.
“When you have nothing, it is almost impossible to convince others to join your crazy mission,” Guericke writes. “It’s a Catch 22: people won’t join your team if the idea sounds too crazy, and if they do join it might mean your idea is not really crazy enough to make a dent in the universe. But when people come up with a crazy idea together, they have equal stakes in it. When your team works together to choose and nurture an idea, you will stick together through the inevitable dark times. That kind of cohesion and excitement will attract other smart pioneers to your team, even if the outside world hasn’t validated your idea yet.”