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0/ 20 Heuristics to Generate Startup Ideas -- I regularly help pre-seed entrepreneurs identify and evaluate startup opportunities. The following are heuristics I’ve developed and collected to identify problems to solve that may also be startups. Also: avichal.com/2019/02/24/heu…
1/ Tools inside a big company — High growth companies often first experience a problem other companies will soon face and solve it internally. Bringing these tools to everyone else can work well, e.g. @Asana was likely inspired on the Facebook internal tasks tool
2/ Consumer generation shift — Think about a consumer company that started ~7 years ago. Generations shift in about 7-10 years, thus tastes evolve, and platforms shift. Thus there is an opening to acquire customers, e.g. Snapchat started 2011 while Facebook started 2004
3/ Big acquisitions — If a company is acquired for $5B+, consider a competitor. This may indicate product maturity, a departure of talent after earnouts, or becoming focused on profits vs. product investment. Now may be a great time to re-imaginge LinkedIn or Github
4/ Market validation from other startups -- Find a company that recently raised a series A and approach solving the problem differently. Often the first company to identify an opportunity will not win but does indicate customers have a real problem they want solved.
5/ Revisit ideas that were too early -- Look back at ideas that were hot 10 years ago because entrepreneurs have a tendency to be too early. See if any might make sense now, e.g. @Instacart vs. Webvan
6/ Invert a big company's core competency -- Take the core strength of a company and flip it on its head to do the opposite, e.g. @Southwest based on a point-to-point model with only one type of plane whereas other airlines use a hub and spoke model with multiple types of planes.
7/ Extend consumer behaviors to businesses -- Take a product used by consumers and think about how it might apply to prosumers, enterprises, and small businesses, e.g. LinkedIn vs Facebook.
8/ Turn open source projects in to SAAS businesses -- Find open source projects that are very popular and turn these in to out of the box services for enterprises, e.g. @PagerDuty is like Nagios on steroids and much easier for more companies to actually use.
9/ Compete with old world industries using software -- Find an industry that is resistant to using software and build a vertically integrated version to compete with that industry, e.g. @Atrium vs. law firms.
10/ Low NPS, fragmented industries -- Identify a large, highly-fragmented industry with terrible net-promoter-score and build a modern, software-first version of their product, e.g. OpenDoor (credit to @Rabois for this one)
11/ Make things programmable -- Take a desktop utility, move it online, and make it more powerful by making it more programmable, e.g. Airtable and Notion (similar to @eladgil's idea around devsumers: blog.eladgil.com/2019/01/intere…)
12/ Unbundle a company -- Look at the functions of modern companies and unbundle them to make them available for companies of all sizes, e.g. @WeWork is the unbundled facilities group at most big companies made available for everyone
13/ Look to engineers' hobbies -- Figure out where the smartest people are spending their spare time and how to productize that (@cdixon's idea: cdixon.org/2013/03/03/wha…)
14/ Understand how teens communicate -- Figure out where teenagers are spending their time to see what the communication products of the next decade may be. Teens are unencumbered and very creative, so seek to understand the motivations instead of judge.
15/ Travel and observe non-software solutions -- Travel to discover non-software solutions that other people have invented, e.g. I was in Moscow in 2006 and people could just hail any stranger on the street to drive them somewhere...not too far from @Uber and @Lyft!
16/ Look at behaviors in certain geographies -- Smaller, homogenous culture countries (Sweden, Korea, Japan) are early adopters of many technologies. Spend time there to understand what they are doing that isn't globally popular yet, e.g. watching other people play video games.
17/ Unbundle the government -- Think about what services the government offers and how you might build a profitable business model, perhaps even by offering in a more cost-effective way back to the government, e.g. @SpaceX is a private NASA, @FedEx is a private postal service.
18/ Verticalize an already successful business -- Find a massively successful business such as Salesforce and target it for a vertical that is traditionally challenging to access, e.g. @veevasystems is a pharma industry specific CRM worth $15B+ and raised only $7M in funding!
19/ Build something for a distribution channel -- Identify a new distribution channel that enables access to a new customer, and then think through what that customer wants that the distribution channel does provide, e.g. @Pinterest and @Yelp built on SEO, @Paypal built on @eBay.
20/ Draft on a regulatory shift -- Build behind a big regulatory shift to compete with incumbents who will be slow to move and have regulatory + technical baggage, e.g. Oscar Health after Obamacare. I'm sure some companies will spin up to help transition to a post-GDPR world.
21/ I'm sure there are others and would love to learn more if you have them. Also please remember that these are just a starting point to *identify problems* that may be solved by a startup. @paulg has timeless advice on this: paulgraham.com/startupideas.h…
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