Deciding whether or not a startup is worth the time, money and energy that you’ll have to dedicate to it can be difficult. The company may have incredible success, and all of the hours you spent putting together a balance sheet, designing and redesigning models, writing and pitching your product could all pay off … or not. It’s a risk. Brenner Adams, CEO at Link Group and entrepreneurship adjunct instructor at the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, produced the “Triple A Test” to help you decide early on whether or not the idea is right for you.
The first A: Authentic
Whether or not the idea is “authentic to you” is the first hurdle it has to pass. Adams defines authenticity as the extent to which you care about the problem or solution, or how closely the concept maps to your person values, interests or passions. Is it true to who you are or aspire to become?
“I believe that your conviction goes up the more the project is aligned with your DNA, your belief systems,” Adams said. “I don’t know how you measure it, but I believe there is a relationship.” Adams recommends asking yourself, honestly, if the idea actually means something to you, or if you even care about it. Getting behind a startup is a commitment, and if down the road you discover that you have no interest in what the company is doing, you’ll be stranded. If you can’t easily identify the ways in which the startup aligns with your morals, values and aspirations, drop it.
The second A: Approachable
No matter how incredible, innovative or fantastic an idea may sound, it’s not going to go anywhere if the general public doesn’t understand it. Customers, business partners and investors must easily wrap their heads around your idea, and then want to buy in. The startup must have an elevator pitch, that is, a quick sell on the idea that’s concise and easy to get in 30 seconds.
“They shouldn’t have to spend 3 hours trying to figure out what you’re talking about! You will have lost them,” Adams said. “The whole benefit of an elevator pitch is that they get it right now, you have 30 seconds for me to understand what you’re doing. Then, when we get off the elevator, let’s do lunch because I have 10 questions on how you’re going to do it.”
The third A: Addictive
“The last A is kind of weird,” Adams said. “Why would I want you to evaluate a business opportunity with addiction? I didn’t put passion or energy, I put addiction for a very specific reason. If you want to know if you’re onto something, lightning in a bottle, it’s true to who you are, everybody gets it, and people can’t live without it.”
An addictive idea shifts the way an individual lives their life. It becomes a part of it, on a massive scale. According to Adams, Uber, the app that connects drivers with passengers, was an addictive idea: “Now that I have Uber, I can’t live without it. I’m seriously addicted to Uber. I have to use it. Out of convenience, I have become addicted.” Addictive ideas are also exciting to those who are working within the startup, who are excited to continue their innovation and creation. They’re passionate about their work, they feel it’s plausible, and it’s fun and interesting to them.
The Triple A Test allows you to quickly filter through the thousands of startup ideas that you have or that are pitched to you, in order to save you time, money and energy to spend on the right project. “Now, when someone comes up to you and says, ‘I got this killer idea! We’re going to make fly-fishing poles made out of bamboo that shoot the fish and …’ you stop it there and evaluate quickly,” Adams said, “‘I don’t like fishing at all, I don’t understand how you’ll shoot the fish, or even think that’s possible, and finally can I live without a fishing pole? Yeah, I can, so sorry, I’m out.”