Going Against the Grain

Ignoring your instincts can work in your favour, argues BlueChilli founder, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin


Catch Sebastien speaking at Kick.Start.Smart. Sydney on October 7

A great idea, one that you really think is worthy of your time, energy and attention is one people tend to keep close to their chests – for obvious reasons. The risk of someone swooping in and stealing your (hopefully) billion-dollar scheme is too much to bear and that’s why people generally never ask others their thoughts.

This is precisely the opposite of what you should do according to Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, founder of BlueChilli, an accelerator group that partners with entrepreneurs to help build, grow and invest in their tech start-up businesses.

“You need to tell as many people as you can about your idea,” he argues. “The more people you tell, the more likely [it] is that someone will say, ‘I’ve heard of that before! Here it is’, or, ‘That idea is crap, and this is why’. Either way, it’s good feedback,” says Sebastien.

To those who are afraid that someone will take their idea and run with it, Sebastien suggests that you need to ramp up your own level of self-belief.

“We don’t look for the idea – we look for the founder. The idea can and will change, adapt and pivot as you learn more about the industry. What doesn’t change is the founder,” he explains. “If you’re worried that someone is going to steal your idea, then you don’t value your own time or your skill sets. If someone takes your idea, they won’t have your unique set of experiences or your understanding of the marketplace.”

Indeed, it’s all too often that people have an idea but never the time, energy, money or dedication to see it through. If you believe someone can take it and do it better, it’s time to invert your thinking: you’re more capable than anyone of success – you just have to get it started.

Another counterintuitive suggestion Sebastien has for first-time entrepreneurs is to put your best idea aside – for now.

“Here’s why I say this: if you start with your second-best idea, you’re not going to be as emotionally attached to the idea itself. You’re going to go through multiple evolutions and if you do that on your second-best idea, you’ll be much more rational in your decision-making and not as attached to the outcome,” he explains.

That means that you’ll be attached to making it succeed, rather than the idea itself, which is especially beneficial when the cold, hard reality of start-ups sets in.

“Also, I hate to say it, but the probability is against you in terms of your first idea being a huge success. You’re going to learn a lot, all of which you can apply to your next idea, but you’re probably not going to strike gold straight away. But it won’t matter, because you’ll still have that number one idea up your sleeve.”

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