We are seeking the earliest stage entrepreneurs—the innovators.
The entrepreneurial journey always begins somewhere. You might be gainfully employed and contemplating a new path. You might be in between roles with ideas percolating in your head. For repeat entrepreneurs, it can be one of the most fun and creative parts of the journey, filled with brainstorming and networking. But how do you pursue the first step of the entrepreneurial journey if it’s your first time contemplating a complex system or hardware startup?
It’s a question I’ve faced as an entrepreneur. Like many others I relied on my instincts and brute force the first time I started a company, trying to decide what to build and how to build it. That went OK, but after selling my startup’s assets off without much monetary or personal reward, I knew there had to be a better way to select ideas, founder-partners, and best practices.
The better way involved networking with experienced entrepreneurs. I quickly learned that the patterns I used to filter potential business ideas had already been refined and codified by previous entrepreneurs. Tools exist to tease out business ideas from macro-economic trends and research—if you don’t start with a big list of ideas. For those who generate ideas every day, there are tools to rapidly filter hundreds of ideas down to a much smaller set of high-potential ideas so you can focus your exploration on the most promising business concepts.
I joined Lemnos first as an EIR (Entrepreneur in Residence), using these tools to determine my next startup. Helen convinced me to join Lemnos as a Partner rather than start my next company, but I knew that one of the Lemnos missions had to be facilitating other entrepreneurs through this ideation process. We’ve been quietly working on our Innovator Program ever since.
Over the years, we’ve had many Innovators use Lemnos as their home while ideating their next startup. They join the Lemnos community as full members, working at Lemnos with complete access to all of our services, including unlimited brainstorming time with Helen, myself, and the Lemnos portfolio founders.
Iterating with each new Innovator over the years, we’ve developed a full program to help new entrepreneurs identify and filter business ideas, pruning hundreds of potential ideas down to the one that will change the world.
Jeremy Conrad was a co-founder and partner at Lemnos before he started his own company, Quartz. “The ability to work with the Lemnos team while I was in the ideation phase was critical to being able to start Quartz,” says Jeremy. “Their feedback and perspective from working with so many early stage companies prevented me from going down several dead ends. Once I down selected to what we’re building today I was able to have much higher confidence in the idea because of their input.”
Probably the most important thing we can provide is connections to other potential founders, early team members, and industry experts who also help with filtering ideas and sharing insights with new founders. We don’t play favorites around which idea becomes the founder’s next startup; it might be in or out of our investment areas. We just love helping founders get started, because we’ve been there ourselves.
Dave Merrill, former Lemnos EIR and now a portfolio CEO, helped develop this program when he was ideating for his current company, Elroy Air. “Ideating at Lemnos made a huge impact on my decision to found Elroy Air. I felt like part of the team, and had frequent brainstorming and idea-filtering conversations with the partners and other founders in the Forge,” says Dave. “The physical space is also great for big new startup ideas – the enormous warehouse and fully-stocked fabrication shop enables rapid prototyping to try out new ideas.”
We’re excited to meet future entrepreneurs based in the United States who have led teams either at larger companies or at a previous startup. We’ve had people with business, operations, and engineering backgrounds become Innovators, bringing with them their diverse experience and expertise. We use the same filters that we use to pick founders to invest in. Innovators are just much earlier in their voyage to entrepreneurship. If you think this sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you!