I composed the quoted part of the following passage in another context, as commentary on an article that was forwarded to some ambitious and brilliant young people encouraged to consider a startup of some kind. About an hour after hitting send, it occurred to me that it is more directly valuable to invention-based-start ups, where the inventor is currently going it alone.
To convey the patent-lawyerly point on all of this, here is some preface. Acquiring a patent requires the inventor to “reduce to practice.” I strongly advocate that an inventor, however competent, bring-on someone whose role is to accomplish a real reduction-to-practice. While an adequate description in a patent can qualify as a “constructive” reduction to practice, I noticed that solo applicants more often failed to constructively reduce. Many of those apparently had decided to file because efforts to reduce had terminated when they hit a snag. In other words, they put their broad idea ahead of finding the practicable invention. Too often, they could not overcome rejections because the described, not-reduced, idea was so broad as to describe countless references and teachings of the relevant art. What they needed was another person to move them forward, not to skip over arriving at a valuably-realized (and therefore describable and usefully-claimable) embodiment.
A patent may technically an-invention-make, but not necessarily one that people can get behind. Without chasing down that original fascination far-enough, even a constructively-reduced invention will likely require actually completing a valuable version before the venture can “find grip.”
The original passage:
Good advice, but I think the best advice was right there at the end:
‘find a good co-founder who would share some of the execution hardship and support you when you are ‘overwhelmed’.’
The most difficult thing in trying something new is getting stuck and not knowing what to do, if you get stuck or if you become frustrated, and the only person with interest in what you are doing is you. Adding another person increases the inertia of the task.
Think of it as part-time 4wd. Maybe not the best metaphor, so I’ll fill in the details. Part time 4wd can generally be thought of as having a “driven” axle which regularly pushes the car, and a “backup” axle that only really starts shoving when (at least one wheel on the) driven axle slips. The backup axle only started on the journey by becoming attached to the motivation of the driven axle, maybe only because it was also attached to the same motivating force.
After a while, there is bound to be a moment when the motivating force is unrelenting, but the driven axle has lost its footing. The backup axle is now in it, not just for their original attachment, but also because they have been attached, through its direct attachment to the motivating force, to the driven axle. If they were both in it, by a connection that runs between the axles themselves, independent of each of their direct attachment to the motivating force, then the backup axle, whether equally competent or merely just able to push a little bit, can keep the whole machine moving.
Maybe the whole machine slows down. Maybe the backup axle slips, too. Maybe it isn’t enough to stay on the road. On the other hand, maybe the backup axle is able to get a grip for just long enough to get the machine to a place far enough forward that the driven axle can find new grip. And when it does, if the backup axle can tell that the driven axle is ready to let rip, it can relinquish control to the driven axle and allow it to rocket them down the path they need to go. Even if it’s a new direction.
That’s enough avoiding lawyer stuff for now. You’re lucky that I stopped short of the allusion of the Ferrari FF’S part time awd not being available once the machine is in 4th gear or higher…
[ps- After I posted, it occurred to me that many people regard what I have described as “all wheel drive.” I imagine that such readers would prefer the term “part-time 4wd” to describe a vehicle with a transfer case that allows driver-selectable engagement of the second axle. I encourage such people to do a survey of existing cars and consider that in this increasingly-computer-adjusted world, almost every four-wheel-drive system in today’s production cars flouts being categorized by any strict definition of traditional terms. There are torque-vectoring sport-differentials on cars that are otherwise full-time four-wheel-drive, open-differential systems that shuffle torque with the brakes, “part-time” systems that give torque in some amount to all wheels and are rarely ever going to give all of the available force over to only one axle, and countless others.]