Reflections on Having a Bad Idea

dormin.org
7 min read
fairly difficult
A few weeks ago, a friend came to me with a bad idea. He wanted us to start a dietary supplement and nootropics company together. We would use dropshipping to offload most inventory and management …
A few weeks ago, a friend came to me with a bad idea.

He wanted us to start a dietary supplement and nootropics company together. We would use dropshipping to offload most inventory and management costs, then go to a mutual friend for cheap web design, and then tap into our networks for some surprisingly good sales and endorsement opportunities.

He acknowledged that I have no formal biology background besides AP Bio and watching House. He also had no formal background. This might lead an objective observer to conclude that we were not the best qualified individuals for selling other people chemicals to put in their bodies.

But… we had both started and run businesses successfully. He had had been using supplements and nootropics on a daily basis for years, and had put an impressive amount of effort into understanding them as evidenced by his ability to rattle off chemical components and mechanisms with the slightest prompting. He also had unique access to people who could promote and sell our product.

Most importantly, the entire supplements/nootropics field was in the "Wild West" (his words). Entrepreneurs all over the world were putting out bundled nootropic supplements with names like Alpha Brain and Brain Force Plus, and so if we, in the spirit of scientific adventure, put our heads together and actually tried to run a legitimate company which used only the most scientifically verified substances, we could pass the low bar set by the current market, and then rely on marketing skills and connections to carve out our own little chunk of a two billion dollar industry.

This was a really, really bad idea.

It wasn't a bad idea in a cynical, amoral, profit-maximizing sense. I'm pretty sure we could have actually made money if we tried.

It was a bad idea because it was a path to becoming borderline-snake oil salesmen.

I wasn't 100% sold on the concept of starting a dietary supplement and nootropics company at first, but I was excited by it. I wanted to start…
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