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How To Get StartUp Ideas
The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It's to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself....... The very best startup ideas tend to have three things in common: they're something the founders themselves want, that they themselves can build, and that few others realize are worth doing. Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook all began this way. ...... the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has. ..... you can either build something a large number of people want a small amount, or something a small number of people want a large amount. Choose the latter. ...... Microsoft was a well when they made Altair Basic. There were only a couple thousand Altair owners, but without this software they were programming in machine language. Thirty years later Facebook had the same shape. Their first site was exclusively for Harvard students, of which there are only a few thousand, but those few thousand users wanted it a lot. ....... The founders of Airbnb didn't realize at first how big a market they were tapping. Initially they had a much narrower idea. They were going to let hosts rent out space on their floors during conventions. They didn't foresee the expansion of this idea; it forced itself upon them gradually. All they knew at first is that they were onto something. That's probably as much as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg knew at first. ....... You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. .......... It was not so much because he was a programmer that Facebook seemed a good idea to Mark Zuckerberg as because he used computers so much. If you'd asked most 40 year olds in 2004 whether they'd like to publish their lives semi-publicly on the Internet, they'd have been horrified at the idea. But Mark already lived online; to him it seemed natural. ....... Live in the future, then build what's missing. ....... Drew Houston realizes he's forgotten his USB stick and thinks "I really need to make my files live online." Lots of people heard about the Altair. Lots forgot USB sticks. The reason those stimuli caused those founders to start companies was that their experiences had prepared them to notice the opportunities they represented. ...... anyone reasonably smart can probably get to an edge of programming (e.g. building mobile apps) in a year. Since a successful startup will consume at least 3-5 years of your life, a year's preparation would be a reasonable investment. ..... software is eating the world, and this trend has decades left to run. ..... not absolutely necessary (Jeff Bezos couldn't) .... The Facebook was just a way for undergrads to stalk one another. ..... Live in the future and build what seems interesting. ...... It's no coincidence that Microsoft and Facebook both got started in January. At Harvard that is (or was) Reading Period, when students have no classes to attend because they're supposed to be studying for finals. ...... Worrying that you're late is one of the signs of a good idea. ...... Whether you succeed depends far more on you than on your competitors. ...... The search engines that preceded them shied away from the most radical implications of what they were doing—particularly that the better a job they did, the faster users would leave. ...... Most programmers wish they could start a startup by just writing some brilliant code, pushing it to a server, and having users pay them lots of money. They'd prefer not to deal with tedious problems or get involved in messy ways with the real world. ...... The unsexy filter is similar to the schlep filter, except it keeps you from working on problems you despise rather than ones you fear. ..... Hotmail began as something its founders wrote to talk about their previous startup idea while they were working at their day jobs. ...... The next best thing to an unmet need of your own is an unmet need of someone else. ..... When Rajat Suri of E la Carte decided to write software for restaurants, he got a job as a waiter to learn how restaurants worked. ...... Traditional journalism, for example, is a way for readers to get information and to kill time, a way for writers to make money and to get attention, and a vehicle for several different types of advertising. It could be replaced on any of these axes (it has already started to be on most). ....... after Steve Wozniak built the computer that became the Apple I, he felt obliged to give his then-employer Hewlett-Packard the option to produce it. Fortunately for him, they turned it down, and one of the reasons they did was that it used a TV for a monitor, which seemed intolerably déclassé to a high-end hardware company like HP was at the time .. And the reason it used a TV for a monitor is that Steve Wozniak started out by solving his own problems. He, like most of his peers, couldn't afford a monitor. .... ..... The prices of gene sequencing and 3D printing are both experiencing Moore's Law-like declines. ..... Live in the future and build what seems interesting.