You Have 3 Years Before Your Startup Idea Becomes Obsolete

Innovation expiration is real, so you’ve got to act now

Joe Procopio
5 min readJan 12


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Great ideas are a dime a dozen. Great ideas executed to perfection are multi-million dollar diamonds in the rough. The gap between the two is often stated but rarely discussed.

That gap is a bridged by a complicated path that requires an uncomfortable but necessary push to get your best ideas into reality. It starts from the very first moment you conceive the idea, when you should set a mental countdown clock for three years and start it ticking.

Is it three years exactly? Maybe not. But whether the window is two years or four or a little more or less, innovation expiration is real, and you never get a firm date or even a heads up that it’s coming.

The Seven Year Itch

Not long ago, an entrepreneur I didn’t know reached out to me out of the blue to present me with an NDA he wanted me to sign before he’d talk about the product he needed my help with.

Of course, this was a red flag. I politely let him know that I couldn’t sign his NDA, because if his idea contained anything I was currently working on or planning to work on, I’d be setting myself up for not being able to work on it.

I’d come to find out that the reason the entrepreneur was playing his cards so close to the vest was that he had been working in secret for the last seven years on the application of a technology he had developed that was going to change the world.

This is another red flag, but not for the reasons you might think.

Anyone can come up with a world-changing business idea. Quite a few folks can muster up the energy to turn that idea into a working concept. But seven years applying that concept before going to market means my entrepreneur friend was several years past the idea’s expiration date.

Seven years ago we were dialing into conference calls, paying with plastic, and screaming at the cable company.

But we do this! Entrepreneurs can quickly fall in love with an idea and spend a ton of time hypothesizing how that idea might become a billion-dollar unicorn. Some of that ideation is necessary, but…



Joe Procopio

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