Reality Check 101

One of the easiest things for an entrepreneur to do is to fall in love. You have this truly inspirational idea for a world-changing gadget or cool net biz and you’re hooked.  An emotional bubble forms around the idea effectively inoculating it against reality. I’ve had more than one of these “idea crushes” during my career as an inventor.  In one sense, it’s perfectly natural to get excited about a new idea. You’ll need that enthusiasm to get the idea off the ground. In a more reality-based sense, I’ve learned to be much more cautious about pursuing ideas.

We discussed this issue to some degree in our last Top Gun class. We were talking about the importance of market research and the need to do it before you launch a product, not the other way around. Market research, done by you or an independent third party, is essential for identifying what your customers really want. In other words, there should be “pull” for your product instead of you needing to “push” it.

This is important for me in my attempt to start up a company around NeuroCheck.  I have to guard against buying into the idea to the point where my objectivity goes out the window.  I need someone else to validate the market for the product.  To this end, I will be using a market research firm here in Maine to help me out.  As one of my Top Gun mentors said, “You want to make sure you’re not hallucinating.”  Sage advice in a variety of circumstances.

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About Todd O’Brien

Dr. O’Brien graduated from Bates College with a BS in biology in 1986. He then attended the Scholl College of Podiatric Medicine and graduated summa cum laude with a DPM degree in 1990. After completing a podiatric surgical residency at VAMC Palo Alto and Stanford, Dr. O’Brien was employed at Sgarlato Labs, a biomedical start-up then based in San Jose, CA. He served in a variety roles there including product developer, project manager, technical writer and sales presenter. After three years at Sgarlato Labs, he returned to the full-time practice of podiatry until founding O’Brien Medical, LLC in 1999. He has since divided his time between running a podiatry practice and developing medical products. He has successfully licensed six surgical products and holds four issued patents. Writing credits include several articles in peer-reviewed medical journals, a chapter in a surgical text and a book on entrepreneurship for inventors. He is a past-president of the medical staff at Penobscot Valley Hospital as well as the Maine Podiatric Medical Association. He is a graduate of the 2012 class of the Top Gun entrepreneurship acceleration program administered by the Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development.