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How to Get Startup Ideas

How to Get Startup Ideas
November 2012 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. Problems Why is it so important to work on a problem you have? I made it myself. Why do so many founders build things no one wants? At YC we call these "made-up" or "sitcom" startup ideas. For example, a social network for pet owners. The danger of an idea like this is that when you run it by your friends with pets, they don't say "I would never use this." Well When a startup launches, there have to be at least some users who really need what they're making—not just people who could see themselves using it one day, but who want it urgently. You don't need the narrowness of the well per se.

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The Games Startups Play Every startup plays two complementary games–the air game and the ground game. The air game is always more romantic. It is the emotional narrative of how your startup revolutionizes a market. Startups in 13 Sentences February 2009 One of the things I always tell startups is a principle I learned from Paul Buchheit: it's better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy. I was saying recently to a reporter that if I could only tell startups 10 things, this would be one of them. Then I thought: what would the other 9 be? When I made the list there turned out to be 13:

The 13 Biggest Failures from Successful Entrepreneurs and What They’ve Learned from them 173 Flares 173 Flares × One of the great things about our focus on transparency at Buffer is that we get to help other people learn from our experiences. We love learning from others as well, and since we got so much out of our round-up of counterintuitive advice, we wanted to find out even more about what other people have learned from experience. This time, we wanted to learn about the darkest moments of successful and famous entrepreneurs and what their lesson has been. Without any further ado and in their own words, here are some of the biggest mistakes and lessons learned from 13 successful entrepreneurs.

How to Work with Engineers — The Year of the Looking Glass A Cheat Sheet for Designers Once, a long time ago, I was a product manager. Then, I was an engineer. Most Startups Should be Deer Hunters This post is part of my series “Startup Lessons“ Elephants, Deer and Rabbits – Some thoughts on start-up segmentation Nearly all of the mistakes I made at my first company I fixed by the time of my second company. This is the only mistake I repeated twice and it is a mistake that I see many, many companies make. I know that this advice won’t apply to every possible startup – but I think it applies to many. When you start your company the very first question you need to ask yourself is which kind of customers do you want to serve.

The Secrets Behind Many Successful Startups “What is your startup’s unfair advantage?”, a partner from a VC firm asked us. Ugh. Here is BuzzFeed’s first pitch deck to investors in 2008 In 2008, BuzzFeed had just five employees working in an office in New York City’s Chinatown district, and its website was attracting just 700,000 unique visitors a month. Now the company has more than 900 employees, over 200 million monthly visitors, and seems poised to become the first major media company of the digital era. The story of how BuzzFeed got from there to here arguably begins with this pitch deck to investors in 2008. The New Era Of Talent Ask anybody who manages a business and they will tell you how important it is to hire the right people. Top companies recruit at the most selective schools, offer excellent pay packages, generous benefits and a comfortable work environment. Unfortunately, it seems that even the best firms are facing a widening skills gap and it will only get worse. McKinsey recently released data outlining a fundamental mismatch between the demand for skills and the supply of workers who have them.

The Art of Decision Making as a Product Manager Product managers have to make many decisions every day, including product prioritization decisions, product design decisions, bug triage decisions, and many more. And the process by which a product manager makes such decisions can result either in an extremely well functioning team dynamic or... quite the opposite. When it works well, the team feels as if the best ideas, regardless of where they came from, get implemented. They know their input will get heard. And they have a clear understanding of how and when decisions will be made. And even though the wrong decisions might sometimes be made, they know that when appropriate, they can and will be reversed. Full stack startups Many of today’s most exciting startups were tried before in a different form. Suppose you develop a new technology that is valuable to some industry. The old approach was to sell or license your technology to the existing companies in that industry. The new approach is to build a complete, end-to-end product or service that bypasses existing companies. Prominent examples of this “full stack” approach include Tesla, Warby Parker, Uber, Harry’s, Nest, Buzzfeed, and Netflix. Most of these companies had “partial stack” antecedents that either failed or ended up being relatively small businesses.

Paul Graham on Building Companies for Fast Growth Paul Graham's appetite for small talk is waning. "Are we starting yet? Is this the interview?" he stops midsentence to ask on a hot summer afternoon in June. It's hard to blame Graham, an angel investor known for being brusque, for placing a premium on his time. If there's one thing he values, it's speed.

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