How can I sell my idea?

Guest blog by Kamil Rextin who works in Growth/Marketing at Pressly and Organimi


Quora is an incredible resource for knowledge, market research and marketing. Earlier this week, I saw this question posted there:

“I have a startup idea, I want to sell it because I don’t have initial investment […] where can I find someone who is interested in buying my idea?”

I’ve been getting this question, or some variation of it, ever since I started working with startups in Waterloo, Montreal and Toronto. It often comes from a misguided notion that a great ground breaking idea would, almost certainly, result in massive success, with venture funding and plenty of scaling.

This was my response:

I hate to break it to you, but I don’t think anyone would pay to buy an idea. An idea is priceless and fragile, but ultimately, it’s not an end in itself. An idea is a spark of something greater, but it needs execution, otherwise it’s just a figment of the imagination; something that could be, not what it is.

The other part of this is that no idea is original. It’s still debated whether it was Newton or Leibniz who first invented calculus. Most likely, your idea isn’t original, someone has probably thought about it before. If you’re really interested in seeing your idea work in someone else’s hands, I encourage you to write about it on a blog and/or pass it around by email. If it’s a really good idea, you might get one of this two possible positive outcomes:

  1. You’ll see your idea come to life in the hands of someone else. You’ll just get to rejoice about having been part of its birth and that it’s now a part of the world,
  2. Or, you’ll get someone interested enough to work with you on it. It will probably take you several years, but if you’re really into this idea, the journey itself will be a precious reward filled with ups, downs and hard lessons learned. Even if it doesn’t work out in the end, you’ll come out the other side as a changed person with battle scars to prove it.

Initial investment should not be a barrier for trying out your idea. Expecting other people to give you money for something that’s unproven is unrealistic. Ask yourself if you are willing to put money into the idea itself.

You should also be open minded about your approach to developing the project. Ask yourself questions like:  What you need the money for? Is it to pay a developer? You can find someone on Upwork that can build and code for a cheaper rate. Is it for advertising? Figure out how you can advertise without spending thousands of dollars on ads. Is it to support yourself while you work on it full time? Do it during nights and evenings.

Odds are that the road ahead is tougher than you anticipate it to be. A week or a month into it, and you’ll be wondering what should you do and what have you gotten yourself into, itching to go back to work at a 9-5 job. If you don’t have money to invest, you have something more valuable than money, and that’s your time.

Often, great ideas come to people who observe the world, imagine possibilities. But the ones who make it are the ones that are obsessed with making it happen.

Lastly but not least, great things happen when ideas come together and collide. So don’t keep it tight to your chest, share it openly and widely. The possibilities are infinite.

There are plenty of organizations like the Altitude Accelerator that connect you to other startups, mentors, and even funding opportunities, providing you with support and direction as you navigate these uncharted territories.

Every business is different because the founders start it based on their personal biases and experiences. That’s why it’s important to take the generic advice found online, with a grain of salt. Most of the successful founders have survivor’s bias. What has worked for them might not work for you. Copying their playbook isn’t the road the greatness. Find your own path and use resources like RIC Center to define your own way forward.

Note: this response was inspired by Tina Seelig’s book that I am currently reading.

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