How to Find a Breakthrough Startup Idea


Paul Graham recently wrote an essay on how to find a breakthrough startup idea. Here are several important points that he raised:

The first is that it is a common mistake of startups that they try to solve problems that do not exist. Therefore, it is best to solve a tangible, existing problem that affects you.

The best startup ideas have 3 common features:
-- The founders themselves want it;
-- The founders can do it themselves;
-- Few people understand that it is worth doing.

So many founders create unnecessary things without a clear target audience because they start startups without ideas that solve tangible problems. This approach generates bad ideas that initially seem plausible enough to work on.

 A good startup idea cannot be custom made.

Another interesting idea Paul raised is that it is best to create things that are needed by a small number of people, making sure that these people need the product very much. Not all ideas of this type are good, but almost all good ideas are of this type. 
Additionally, if you don't know who needs your idea so much that they'll look past the imperfect first version, it's probably not a great idea.

To find good startup ideas, it's important to become a person who has such ideas. And for that, it is important to be at the forefront of some rapidly changing industries such as tech, decentralised finance, economics and so on.

The best startup ideas are obtained when the funders can envisage the future and see what would be missing.

Paul notes that good ideas are not invented, but noticed. Organic ideas are those that naturally grow out of the personal experience of the funders. Most successful startups from Y Combinator started with such ideas.

When searching for startup ideas, it is important to ask these types of questions:
-- What is missing now?
-- What will people do differently in the future in this area?
-- Is the idea strong enough to create a big company out of?

It is better to have the process of searching for problems and solutions running constantly in the background, rather than concentrating all your effort on inventing the next big thing. Let it happen naturally, otherwise the ideas you come up with will most likely be obvious.

A good way to find ideas is to work on projects that seem cool and interesting to you personally. Then you will find what you are missing.

Lastly, Paul mentions that a crowded competitive market is a good thing. It means there's a demand and none of the existing solutions are good enough to dominate the market.

Author - Alexey Shashkov