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Concept to Reality: Just a good idea isn’t enough

Written by Ashwin Ahuja on Tuesday, 04 May 2021. Posted in Start-up Diaries

Ideas and opinions – fortunately are not a luxury. We all have them, get passionate about them but often they get relegated to the side as we get on with what matters to us in the present.

Concept to Reality: Just a good idea isn’t enough

Ideas and opinions – fortunately are not a luxury.  We all have them, get passionate about them but often they get relegated to the side as we get on with what matters to us in the present.  To avoid this and to evolve ideas into a concept / turn them into reality, not only requires tenacity and clarity but also key actionable tools.  When I established Karma Bites popped lotus seeds, it wasn’t a nascent ambition that I had held for several years, it was borne out of me recognising a transition in consumer awareness around healthy snacking and a gap in what the market offered.  I had grown up snacking on lotus seeds and as it delivered both on health and taste, it proved to be the optimal solution for the tension I set out to address.  

I would love to pontificate around what I did to turn my concept (lotus seeds) into a reality (a brand and a saleable product), but I hadn’t done this before.  My previous work experience was in brand and corporate strategy, where I had taken existing businesses and brands to the next level – there was a tangible foundation to build on.  I didn’t have the first-hand knowledge taking the germ of an idea and turning it into a business.  Now when I look back, I may not have defined the tools that I used, but I did implement certain clear actions, which I have detailed below.  Following methodological procedures, ensures you launch from a firm base – when times are challenging (as they were for several businesses over the past year), you know how to pivot your strategy from this solid foundation and when conditions are thriving in your favour, you know how to realise the potential of opportunities.  I recommend the following 5 steps to turn concept into a sustainable reality:  

1. Solve a problem

Ask yourself does your idea for a product or service solve an actual problem.  In my case, I struggled to find a snack that authentically delivered both on taste and health and had ingredients that were simple and pure.  Karma Bites was established to plug this gap.  For example, the Founder of ClassPass – Payal Kadakia was searching for a dance class to take. Frustrated by the experience, an idea was born. Finding a workout shouldn’t be hard, Payal did more than find a dance class — she found millions of classes in everything from aquacycling to bootcamp and brought them all into one app. Now, ClassPass connects you to classes and appointments in 30 countries worldwide and is valued at $1 billion (within 6 years).

2. Research the market

You may think that you have a fantastic and lucrative idea, but thoroughly research the market – is there a market for it, does it cater to a wide enough audience and not just a niche, who is the competition and what differentiates your product / service?  A good idea doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel, it could simply mean doing something that exists and doing it better.  For example, Tony’s Chocolonely recognised that the chocolate supply chain wasn’t fair, with the cocoa farmers stuck in a poverty trap whilst everyone else benefits from the sale of the chocolate.  Their business is based on the mission of making the entire supply chain 100% slave free.  They are now the number 1 chocolate brand in the Netherlands.

3. Define your target audience

You cannot cater to everyone - you need to clearly define the group you will be targeting with your product / service.  Develop a thorough understanding of their demographics and psychographics to ensure you are solving their tensions, needs and pain-points.  This becomes your core audience from where you can expand to other demographics.  For example, when I started Karma Bites, the target audience was health and wellness conscious people looking for a healthy snack.  Our marketing, communications and positioning ensured engagement with them.  As we have expanded our reach, we now define our target audience more broadly but we do not define our demographic as “everybody” because then you cater to nobody.

4. Ask for opinions / feedback

You and your core group might think that you have a brilliant business idea, but ask around, gather as much feedback and get people to critique your plans.  There’s passion and hard work that goes into developing a concept, but you need to keep an open mind to take valid feedback on board and use it to your advantage.  If it’s a product, develop a prototype and run multiple focus groups so you can really understand what works / what doesn’t.  It may be painful to see your ideas probably ripped to shreds, but ultimately you will build something superior that doesn’t need to be reworked post launch.  

5. And action!

Don’t continue to be in the ideating and concepting phase, move swiftly to the next stage of action.  It’s so easy to get bogged down and there will probably be more reasons to not do something vs. doing it.  You need to have a solid rationale on why you want to turn your concept into reality, but you also need a good dose of self-belief and passion.  This is a winning combination and unless you take those brave steps and work with speed and agility, your idea could potentially fall to the wayside.   

About the Author

Ashwin Ahuja

Ashwin Ahuja

Ashwin Ahuja, Founder of Karma Bites

Ashwin's professional life began at Cambridge University where he completed an MBA. From there, he worked with film studios in Hollywood, in Advertising and Marketing strategy and in wealth management for ultra-high networth individuals. Ashwin's inspiration for Karma Bites came when he realised that the snacking market was saturated with unhealthy options, lacking a snack that authentically delivered against health, taste and flavour.

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