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Ideas for Startups. October 2005 (This essay is derived from a talk at the 2005 Startup School.)

Ideas for Startups

How do you get good ideas for startups? That's probably the number one question people ask me. I'd like to reply with another question: why do people think it's hard to come up with ideas for startups? That might seem a stupid thing to ask. Well, maybe not. I think this is often the case. I also have a theory about why people think this. If coming up with an idea for a startup equals coming up with a million dollar idea, then of course it's going to seem hard. Actually, startup ideas are not million dollar ideas, and here's an experiment you can try to prove it: just try to sell one.

Questions The fact is, most startups end up nothing like the initial idea. The initial idea is just a starting point-- not a blueprint, but a question. There's a real difference, because an assertion provokes objections in a way a question doesn't. A question doesn't seem so challenging. Upwind Doodling What happens in that shower? Notes. Organic Startup Ideas. April 2010 The best way to come up with startup ideas is to ask yourself the question: what do you wish someone would make for you?

Organic Startup Ideas

There are two types of startup ideas: those that grow organically out of your own life, and those that you decide, from afar, are going to be necessary to some class of users other than you. Apple was the first type. Apple happened because Steve Wozniak wanted a computer. Unlike most people who wanted computers, he could design one, so he did. Our own startup, Viaweb, was of the second type. There is no sharp line between the two types of ideas, but the most successful startups seem to be closer to the Apple type than the Viaweb type. Organic ideas are generally preferable to the made up kind, but particularly so when the founders are young.

So if you want to start a startup and don't know yet what you're going to do, I'd encourage you to focus initially on organic ideas. There are ideas that obvious lying around now. Notes. Startup Ideas We'd Like to Fund. Startup Ideas We'd Like to Fund Paul Graham July 2008 When we read Y Combinator applications there are always ideas we're hoping to see.

Startup Ideas We'd Like to Fund

In the past we've never said publicly what they are. If we say we're looking for x, we'll get applications proposing x, certainly. But then it actually becomes harder to judge them: is this group proposing x because they were already thinking about it, or because they know that's what we want to hear? We don't like to sit on these ideas, though, because we really want people to work on them. Please don't feel that if you want to apply to Y Combinator, you have to work on one of these types of ideas. 1. The answer may be far afield. 2. 3. News will morph significantly in the more competitive environment of the web. 4. 5. One way to start is to make things for smaller companies, because they can't afford the overpriced stuff made for big ones.

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