A Super-Tool for Entrepreneurs That’s So Simple It’s Stupid

How I used a text editor to start building products, features and even entire companies.

Joe Procopio

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About 10 years ago, I founded a company off of a sketch on the back of a napkin. Well, the 21st century equivalent of a sketch on the back of a napkin: a text editor.

In truth, the concept for ExitEvent, a web-based information and support resource for startups, had been germinating in my head for a couple years. In fact, I already had the product well defined. I had most of the codebase together. I had even secured the URL and a few social properties.

What I didn’t have was the launcher — the magic, interconnected, unique “thing” between product, customer and technology — that would evolve my idea from a nice-to-have web-based directory to a full-blown entrepreneurial revolution.

In one night, all of it would come together thanks to a text editor on my phone.

When Opportunity Knocks, It Doesn’t Wait For You to Fire Up Trello

I like to say that ExitEvent started with a joke. At a pre-event dinner for a startup conference, I joked with a friend that my social life had been relegated to attending startup events and that I should just start my own startup event and enjoy a full social calendar. That’s when a woman I had never met before said that if I was serious, she had a prime space for my startup event.

Hosting an actual event related to ExitEvent — which was named after the term for when a startup exits and everyone gets paid — wasn’t the magic I was looking for, but it was indeed a catalyst. So while everyone else enjoyed dinner, I opened a note-taking app on my phone and started jotting.

While everyone else was attending the conference sessions, I was on my phone, simultaneously calling peers who gave me new catalysts and then jotting new notes. I also talked to a number of people at the conference who could vet these new ideas (talk about being at the right place at the right time) — thus discovering more catalysts and jotting down more ideas.

When I got home that night, I had about a dozen text documents that I ported over to…

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Joe Procopio

I'm a multi-exit, multi-failure entrepreneur. NLG pioneer. Building TeachingStartup.com & GROWERS. Write at Inc.com and BuiltIn.com. More at joeprocopio.com