Thursday, October 20, 2005

Paul Graham's ideas for startups

Paul Graham has another excellent essay out, this one on "Ideas for Startups".

Some selected excerpts:
Startup ideas are not million dollar ideas, and here's an experiment you can try to prove it: just try to sell one ... The fact that there's no market for startup ideas suggests there's no demand ... that startup ideas are worthless.

Most startups end up nothing like the initial idea ... The main value of your initial idea is that, in the process of discovering it's broken, you'll come up with your real idea.

You have to start with a problem, then let your mind wander just far enough for new ideas to form .... Finding the problem intolerable and feeling it must be possible to solve it. Simple as it seems, that's the recipe for a lot of startup ideas.

The best way to solve a problem is often to redefine it ... Redefining the problem is a particularly juicy heuristic when you have competitors, because it's so hard for rigid-minded people to follow. You can work in plain sight and they don't realize the danger.

What you want to be able to say about technology is: it just works. How often do you say that now? Simplicity takes effort -- genius, even.

The best way to generate startup ideas is to do what hackers do for fun: cook up amusing hacks with your friends ... The best way to get a "million dollar idea" is just to do what hackers enjoy doing anyway.
Great advice from Paul Graham.

Much of this is true for Findory. We saw a problem. In the flood of information out there, people can't find the news they need. We redefined the problem. Perhaps you shouldn't have to find news, instead the news you need should come to you. We hacked away on a solution. Findory learns from what you read and helps you find other interesting articles. It's simple to use and it just works.

It's even true that the initial idea for Findory is different than what Findory is now. Findory started in personalized search and switched to personalized news.

Great stuff, Paul.

See also my earlier post, "Chris Sacca on geeks and startups", with Chris' thoughts on Paul's startup school.

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