How to Get and Evaluate Startup Ideas

I was chatting with a friend and we talked about validating our startup idea with marketing and outreach before spending time building out the product.

I found this hackernews thread talking about the same topic.

I also recalled this video by YC, which talks about how to get ideas and evaluate whether they are worth pursuing.

4 most common mistakes

  1. not solving a real problem: (SISP: solution in search of problem ex: AI is cool what can AI be applied to)
  2. getting stuck on tarpit ideas: tarpit = set of ideas that have been around forever but have been stuck in tar and don't seem to get anywhere
    • what causes tarpit ideas? : widespread problem, seems easy to solve, structural reason why it hasn't been solved
  3. not evaluating an idea
  4. waiting for the perfect idea

10 key question for any idea

  1. Do you have a founder/market fit?: pick a good idea for my team!
  2. How big is the market?: ex: Coinbase
  3. How accute is the problem? ex: Brex
  4. Do you have competition?: Most good ideas have competition, but needs a new insight -> Yes I do
  5. Do you want this?: Do you know personally who wants this? -> I know someone who wants this, but I am not sure if I want this.
  6. Did this recently become possible or necessary? ex: Checkr
  7. Are there good proxies for this business? proxies is a large company that does something similar, but not a direct competitor. Rappi example.
  8. Is this an idea you'd want to work on for years?: boring idea is okay, and tend to be passionate over time.
  9. Is this a scalable business? Software -> check, high skilled human labor.
  10. Is this a good idea space? Do you expect is going to have a reasonable hit rate. ex: Fivetran

3 things that make ideas good

  1. hard problem ex: Stripe (credit card processing and banks)
  2. boring space ex: Gusto (payroll)
  3. existing competitors ex: DropBox (19 other competitors which had bad UI, dropbox edge was integration with OS)

3 main ways to come up with ideas

  • become an expert on something valuable
  • work at a startup
  • build things you find interesting

7 recipe to generate ideas

  1. start with what your team is good at : automatic founder market fit (ex: Rezi)
  2. start with a problem you've personally encountered (ex: Vetcove)
  3. think of things you've personally wish existed (ex: DoorDash)
  4. look at things that have changed recently (ex: Covid -> Gathertown)
  5. Look for new variants of successful companies (ex: Nuvocargo)
  6. talk to people and ask them what problems they have (pick fertile idea space and talk to people in that space ex: AtoB)
  7. look for a big industry that seem broken (ripe for disruption)
  8. find a cofounder with an idea