Napkin Ideas: An Introduction

Written by Adina Luo

Hello there.

Welcome to Napkin Ideas, a collection of Engineering Capital essays.

The genesis of great ideas comes from a myriad of places, but few things are more ubiquitous than the “I jotted it down on a napkin” mythology. As visual learners, engineers are even more likely to sketch out their ideas. IT architecture. Prototypes. Math. We have all had those moments when we must stop everything—we must write it all down—because a novel idea has come to us in a dream, over a beer, or in the middle of dinner.

But what happens next?

The Second and Third Napkin

Engineering Capital started this blog with the intention of accompanying back of the napkin ideas with more structure. In other words, we explore the things you write on the edge of your napkin, or maybe even on the second or third napkin. In fact, we write about the things you discuss while waving your napkin in the air, saying “this idea is brilliant, but what now?”

Every post is accompanied by thorough napkin scribbles. Take this startup idea flowchart. It all starts with the first napkin.

You scribble something on the back and we think… is this a good idea? If it isn’t, the napkin ends up in the trash. If it is… you keep going with this idea. You may pick up a couple more napkins. You start brainstorming product features, go-to-market strategy, customer insights. Is it still a good idea? If it is, you get a little more formal. You move from napkins to notebooks, but more likely, computers. And after this stream of consciousness idea visualization session, you ask yourself: what do I do now?

That’s where Napkin Ideas comes in. Join us as we think rigorously about next steps. With our scribbles, we break down the best ways to approach longstanding entrepreneurial challenges and opportunities. Our images are not always to scale and not necessarily cut from Da Vinci’s notebook, but they lay out ideas in a way that makes sense to us visually.



The Right Questions

Our goal is to help you think through and visualize key parts of the entrepreneurial process. Starting from the beginning. We strive to answer the key questions companies driven by technical insight face. More than that, we strive to ask the right questions. That’s what Napkin Ideas is all about. Welcome, and we hope you stick around.

We’re written and curated by the Engineering Capital team. Engineering Capital is a seed stage venture firm that partners with great entrepreneurs driven by technical insights: we boldly invest before traditional venture firms are willing. You could even say… we invest in napkin ideas.