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Personal blog by Daumantas Dvilinskas
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Disclosure: I’m a startup guy, business developer, events organiser and advisor @ TransferGo. Here I express my views and encourage others to debate them. Thank you for spending your time reading this.

I want to talk about the first 1% of your startup – that’s the idea.

Entrepreneurs come up with many ideas, which at the moment of inception sound exciting enough to give you that much-awaited portion of dopamine surge. You know what I mean, right? Like most of us I tend to write my “dopamine” moments on a special notepad. By now I have more than four of them filled up.

Surprisingly enough (or maybe not), after a while majority of my old ideas don’t seem to look that creative, smart or innovative.

  • Some successfully implemented by others.
  • Some sound boring.
  • Some…Well I must have been using something strong when I came up with that…

Yet a few of them still ring a bell.  So how to pick the one and try running with it?

I believe that the sole purpose of technology/innovation is to make the future more productive, more social, more entertaining, more… etc. In a word – better.

I think startups are one of the most powerful tools out there able to tangibly improve people’s lives. That’s what they are all about. Money should be treated as a by-product, right?

So how to think about the few decent ideas left on the notepad. I’d like to construct a simplistic framework for entrepreneurs on how to do it.

I’d like to categories “the few notepad survivors” into three categories.

  • Idea that solves a really painful problem for enough people.
  • Idea that adds real value for enough people.
  • Idea that’s really addictive - sticky, which to an extent is a combination of the two above.

Out of the last few ideas-survivors on my notepad I’d choose one, which would potentially do good in one of these categories and then go on testing if it will.

Let me give you some examples of companies who represent these categories quite well.

The pain ideas.

Skype – made international calls accessible to everyone by substantially cutting down prices. Sorry if the examples look a bit boring.

All of us should remember the pre-Skype world when calling abroad was a luxury reserved for larger business or wealthy people. Skype removed the barriers and made global communication available for all. They made the world smaller, more inclusive, and dynamic. But most importantly by solving a huge pain they’ve disrupted an old-fashion telecommunications market and opened new horizons for businesses and global connectivity.

The good news is that unlike the “real value” or “addictiveness” ideas you can test if the problem hurts your target audience enough so they’d pay for the solution.

  • Identify people who you think are your target audience.
  • Develop a pitch.
  • Go and talk to them. If your pitch is at least half-right you should be able to see signs of approval and hopefully excitement that the problem will final be solved.
  • Real pain points tend to resonate rather well.

That’s why I think “pain” solutions are an ideal pick for first-time entrepreneurs:

  • They should be relatively easy to communicate with customers.
  • They should be relatively easy to prove.
  • They should be relatively easy to market.
  • They should be relatively easy to impact many people if the pain is big enough.

Don’t get me wrong. Bringing “pain” idea to the market is as difficult as any other idea. But at least you’ll know fairly early if it’s something people want to use/consume/pay money for.

Important detail. Keywords here are “real” and “pain”.

When you start testing the good ideas on your notepad be open and objective by picking the one with serious problem to solve in a market that’s long overdue for disruption, especially if your goal is to build a business out of it. Only if the problem is serious enough and the solution is good enough will people pay you money for it.  

Let’s move on to Real Value creators.

AirBnB added a lot of real value to millions of homeowners and is now evaluated north of $2B.

For those who don’t know AirBnB is an online platform where you can rent out a room or bed in your house for a certain time period.

So what’s the core difference between pain and value ideas?

If you’ve got an unused room (bed) in your house it’s not really a huge pain, right?

Yes, you may be paying a bit more in utilities than you should but that’s not painful enough. However, with AirBnB you can earn an additional $21k annual income (that’s how much an average AirBnB host earns annually in NYC) which is live-changing value for majority of homeowners..

$21k additional income is a tangible value offer, which is relatively easy to sell and comprehend. Nevertheless, this value proposition became accessible to homeowners when AirBnB achieved traction, grew loyalty and confidence.

If you’re excited about another social mobile location app, which re-adjusts my-social-graph-in-an-interesting-way sort of value idea, think critically about how much value will it really add to your users. Ask them. Be open.

Testing value ideas is it a bit harder because you have to have a working product or prototype in order to test. With value idea it’s common that the real value only kicks in after certain user adoption thresholds are met, which makes it that much difficult.

Keep in mind that most of us are willing to do more to decrease pain than to increase pleasure. Not sure where I’ve heard this but it’s certainly not my idea.

Let’s finish with the addictive stuff.

That’s Facebook.

Some might argue but I don’t think it solves a painful problem or delivers so much value we couldn’t do without. It has improved our lives, made the world “more open and connected” but as a business it’s not yet great because it doesn’t really fit well in one of the three categories. That’s way Facebook is and will remain free.

Stickiness of the idea is very difficult to predict until your product or services becomes sticky. Imagine if you’ve brought the first version of Facebook prior to launch to a bunch of investors and promised it will grow like wildfire their response would have been predictable. Even when Facebook started growing like crazy only the brave and the visionary decided to chip in.

I know many people, especially from Silicon Valley will roast me for what I’m about to say but here it goes. If you have an idea left on your notepad, which neither solves a real pain nor adds real value I’d save it for a side project after you’ve failed a few times or done exits. This is specifically true when you’re not launching from Silicon Valley or similar eco-system.  Twitter started as a side you know.

To sum up, picking ideas is not as black and white as I’ve portrayed because decreasing pain and increasing value are two sides of the same coin. However, if you are a first-time entrepreneur or planning to bootstrap heavily focus on the pain ideas or pain relieve part of your idea.

It should give your first-venture a better chance to run the longest distance or fail fast – either way learn the most.



Follow me on Twitter: daumis2475

I’m also on Quora.com

Advisor @ Transfergo.com



It’s been a while since I’ve blogged mainly because of an unexpectedly busy half a year. A lot of stuff has happened and I want to take a moment to reflect back on my experiences and off course take a look at what’s coming up next.

Reality 2 – Me 1. Let me explain.

During last half a year three significant events have shaped the path of my entrepreneurial career. Two failures and one success.

  • My first proper startup – Pinevio - has failed.
  • The co-working and events center the Switch has failed
  •  Startup Monthly Vilnius conference back in April was a major success.

Reality 2 – Me 1. 

What I would like to do is reflect point by point on why I think things happened the way they did. I hope that all of you who will hopeful read this have something to take away. Lets start with Pinevio.

Pinevio.com is a startup, which got more PR and press coverage than users traction. J Here is why I think it failed.

  • Wrong team composition. Co-founders must be diverse in skills and outlooks in order to compensate for each other’s weaknesses and accelerate strengths. Having two nonetheless talented sales guys driving a tech company is tough.
  • It was never a good business. Maybe just a good idea. We might never know for sure but I think this is exactly why we struggled to raise capital in Europe. Yes I’ve got some money from Silicon Valley, however, they invested more in the positive “craziness” and bizarre determination of founders rather than the product. Actually we raised money with product vision only, which speaks more about our sales skills and determination than anything else.
  •  Mistakes. Mistakes. Mistakes. We’ve made every single startup mistake in the book. Team, fundraising, product development, strategic partnerships. We’ve made a mistake in every single area but we’ve still managed to persevere enough to come out with relevant experience.

 That’s why I’m super happy with experience I had with working on Pinevio along side my co-founder and wouldn’t change it for the world. I think failing your first start-up this way is probably one of the better ways to go. Fail harder, right?

Now, the Switch. The idea has failed because we didn’t manage to fund raise in time. Unlike the Pinevio failure, this wasn’t as rewarding or worthy of time invested mainly because it failed for subjective reasons which are rather obscure and would take a long time to explain properly.

  • Maybe we wanted to something on a European scale and Lithuanian startup eco-system is not yet ready for it?
  • Maybe we don’t have the right (wrong) skills necessary to successfully operate in our home environment? And boy I don’t want to acquire them. No one should.
  •  Maybe it’s ignorance to compromise with present reality?

However, there is one thing I know for sure. Lithuania needs a quality events and start-up orientated co-working centre because it will be the backbone structure for startup activity in the country.

I sure hope someone executes something similar. Otherwise we’ll definitely come back to this idea in the future.

OK. Finally – Startup Monthly Vilnius conference. That’s the success and I barely look back on it anymore.

Success is difficult to learn from because it covers up the small set backs on the way, which are worthy of analysis.

I think the main reasons for the success were:

  • Finding a diverse team of Pros (something I’ve learned from Pinevio).
  • Fundraising enough money to sustain the Star Team.
  • Strong governmental support from Enterprise Lithuania not only with $ but by opening the right doors. Big Thanks to them!
  • And off course our Silicon Valley connections with Startup Monthly, which enabled us to bring people like Yuri, Vadim, Greg Kidd (Twitter, Square) and David Weekly (Mexican VC) for the first time to Vilnius.

All an all, it was super awesome. I remember the feeling I felt on the last day of the conference was similar to the one, when we’ve raised capital for the first time. It’s absolutely remarkable. 

What’s even more astounding is that after 3 months of super-hard work our team became better friends then we were before, which is a dream for any leader.

Huge thanks to Mindaugas, Julius, Jonas, Egle, Ugnius and the amazing volunteers who made it happen.

Reality 2 – Me 1

So… what’s next?

I am coming back to startup mode. Hell yeah! Something I really love.

I’m now turning a new page in my career and look forward to meeting new people, startup teams and growing together.

So if you a getting together a great team or think that my skills would complement an existing one lets get together have some coffee and talk about it. I’m completely open.

It’s been a wild beginning of a long journey. Can’t wait for what’s coming up next.

Thanks for a half-year to remember.

All the best,

Daumantas Dvilinskas


TW: daumis2475