But just one week into the tech/business mentorship process, they realized they had a few ideas that were much better. The founders were nervous about presenting an entirely different product to their advisors, but they learned a valuable lesson about making big changes early in the startup game. Watch this video interview with co-founder David Hoffman and see how changing horses midstream might not be such a bad thing, after all.
One of the team's lead mentors, Lijit Networks VP of Business Development Micah Baldwin, said, "This team never took so much ownership in the idea that they were unwilling to throw it out and start with a new idea. What they were doing uncovered a greater need in the industry, and now they're working to cater to that need."
Clearly, the Next Big Sound team has impressed the TechStars crew. But how does this lesson apply to startups in a more universal sense?
"There's obviously a mechanical answer," said Baldwin. "Through the funding process, through interaction with advisors, through vetting, if you start to hear a common thread, you should probably reassess. But the strongest startup founders are in a constant state of evaluation. Early on, you can make large changes. As time goes on, those changes become more slight."
For any startup team, particularly those with less experience, "taking a left at Albuquerque," as Baldwin phrased it, requires nerves of steel and a great deal of confidence. But the ideas that result from a major, well-thought-out change are often better and more viable than the originals could have been.
The point to which Hoffman alludes throughout our interview is that great startup successes come down to having a great team supported by great advisors. The product, at least in this story, is best when highly malleable.