Very cool. Our very own ThoughtOffice was mentioned in a recent blog on BusinessWeek.com by Dr. Richard Mammone of Rutgers University.

Dr. Mammone’s blog post is entitled “Humility and the Successful Startup“, and he offers a number of useful suggestions to budding entrepreneurs.

To begin, Dr. Mammone advises:

If you or another founder possess a deep knowledge of a specific industry or technology then you should try to come up with your own idea for a startup. There are a number of software tools such as ThoughtOffice that can help you organize the results of your brainstorming sessions. If your strengths lie more in a business discipline such as marketing, operations, finance, or logistics, then your company should focus on these strengths and you should look elsewhere for the big idea.

In other words, Dr. Mammone recommends creative outsourcing. Spend your energies where you will get the maximum return on your effort, and hire somebody to take care of the stuff you’re not so good at doing.

That’s excellent advice. The sort we follow here at ThoughtOffice. We farm out the stuff that’s not within our core competencies, and stay focused on what we do best – creating new ideas, and helping other people do the same.

Dr. Mammone continues, “The first step of the startup process is to find your big idea.”

If you’re a regular reader, you know what our CEO, Mark Alan Effinger, recommends:

  • Ask questions. Lots of them. Stupid ones. You’ll eventually get good at finding smart questions.
  • Riff with an associate who won’t quash any idea, no matter how bizarre.
  • Go through your memory bank and find a tune associated with your idea. (I am, this very moment, listening to George Winston. Reminds me of listening to my Dad sitting at the keys of his beloved Yamaha Grand). Dave Matthews and Seal, Rush, Yes, Tangerine Dream, Genesis (OK, I’m dating myself). Whatever it is you’re looking for, I guarantee there is a song, or songs that will help put a melody and rhythm to the process.
  • Kill some road turtles. Go take a drive and let the rhythm of the road turtles as you change lanes inspire an idea. More on modulated audio and the brain in a future post.
  • Go ride a Trikke. Or whatever it is you do to get the blood flowing.
  • Watch Robin Williams. That’s Riffing Gone Wild.
  • Read Dave Barry. Again, nearly illegal riffing.
  • Or put ThoughtOffice through its paces. It really is effective (ask Drew Carey and Rick Warren, among others). The whole process of “drilling down” with questions to find the heart of an idea. The lateral thinking process is the DNA of the software. These are the killer tools that will help any entrepreneur or startup team to flesh out a concept. Develop new ideas from scratch. Even riff a new arrangement of an old standard (aka Mashups in the Web 2.0 space).

    And the seasoned knowledge and skills of over 200 PhDs, MBAs, sucessful CEOs, and many other leading professionals is right on tap. Need to put together a business plan for your new venture? We have a plugin module for that. How about an ad campaign for your Big Idea? We have a plugin module for that, too. (and if we told you who uses it, and for what ad campaigns, you’d immediately lose your Whopper… 😉

    Sixteen eXpertTopic Modules, which can be added to the core program at any time. (More new modules are now in development. We never stop thinking. Creatively.)

    Finally, Dr. Mammone concludes by saying:

    To improve your startup’s chances of success, you need to know who you are; where you enjoy spending your time, and when to bow out. If you know those things, you are ready to try to turn a business idea into a business.

    My personal experience really resonates with that. Every day, I am learning with increasing clarity what I enjoy about working here at ThoughtOffice, and where I need to find someone else to do X, Y, or Z. It’s been an exciting, exhilarating, and sometimes stressful 2 1/2 years here. And I’m looking forward to lots more of it.

    Thanks to all our great customers for making my involvement with ThoughtOffice way more than a job – it’s been an education, and a humbling experience, in the best possible ways.

    David Lockman
    Product Specialist
    ThoughtOffice Corporation

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