Ok, so everyone thinks they have the next big great idea. Let's just assume for the sake of this question that I really DO have a good/great idea.
Some background and basic. I'm obviously not going to share the actual idea, but can give some general parameters:
I had this idea quite a long time ago (over ten years ago). At the time I had it, it wasn't technically feasible--at minimum, with newer technology executing on this idea is much, much easier.
The product is a piece of software, basically Software as a Service (Saas).
I am a software architect with fifteen years of experience, and have the expertise necessary to build a system of this scale. However, the undertaking to even get a basic prototype up is beyond my capacity right now (see more on this below).
I have (at least) two other (excellent) resources who are involved in my idea, and would be interested in pursuing it if it got off the ground. However, we did actually start up the project and each tried to commit ten hours a week to working on it. It ended up not going anywhere, because all of us work a pretty hard at our day jobs, and that made it difficult to expend additional energy on something that seemed like it had such a slim chance of going anywhere (to be clear--we all believe in the idea, the amount of work just seemed overwhelming).
I really like my current job, and I work about 50 hours every week. I could scale my hours back if necessary, and I DO realize that any kind of self-employment situation requires some sacrifice to be successful.
On the note of sacrifice, I could come up with some small amount of money, but nothing on the scale of what would be needed to get this off the ground. I would also take a large cut in pay to be able to make this happen. I could not, however, work without pay for any amount of time.
I don't have a business plan (nor would I know where to begin), but I feel strongly (however naively) that this idea could be huge if it got off the ground.
I have no real contacts as far as investors go (e.g. VC firms).
My main questions are:
Is it unheard of to get funding for an "idea", without a proof of concept or some record of executing on it? If so, what kind of people should I be talking to?
How would one go about protecting the idea if one were going to pitch it?
Thanks for all the great replies. I guess it comes down to:
- Getting off my ass and putting SOMETHING together in terms of a minimum product or
- Admitting to myself that it will never happen and let it go.
Just to explain a little further--I think the team would have been willing to put in the 5-10 hours a week if we felt like it would show enough progress to be worthwhile in a reasonable period of time (say a year). The undertaking was so large that it didn't seem like we were getting anywhere. Starting smaller might solve that.
Also, to really make a go of it, someone would have to really FUND it, like with $1M or more (maybe much more) dollars--the idea is roughly along the lines of an ebay (not quite to that scale) with a lot of technical complexity and data. It would take a pretty big team to get it rolling. Again, it seems like the anwser is to start smaller.
In any case, quite a lot here to think about. Thanks again for the responses.