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McDonald’s Theory — What I Learned Building…

McDonald’s Theory — What I Learned Building…

medium.com
Travis Hardman Travis Hardman
5 years ago

I use a trick with co-workers when we’re trying to decide where to eat for lunch and no one has any ideas. I recommend McDonald’s.

An interesting thing happens. Everyone unanimously agrees that we can’t possibly go to McDonald’s, and better lunch suggestions emerge. Magic!

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The next time you have an idea rolling around in your head, find the courage to quiet your inner critic just long enough to get a piece of paper and a pen, then just start sketching it.
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Bust down that first barrier and just get things on the page. It’s not the kind of thing you can do in your head, you have to write something, sketch something, do something, and then revise off it.
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How to Get Startup Ideas

paulgraham.com
Travis Hardman Travis Hardman
5 years ago
Why is it so important to work on a problem you have? Among other things, it ensures the problem really exists.
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Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas. That m.o. is doubly dangerous: it doesn't merely yield few good ideas; it yields bad ideas that sound plausible enough to fool you into working on them.
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When you have an idea for a startup, ask yourself: who wants this right now? Who wants this so much that they'll use it even when it's a crappy version one made by a two-person startup they've never heard of? If you can't answer that, the idea is probably bad.
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But while demand shaped like a well is almost a necessary condition for a good startup idea, it's not a sufficient one.
Your idea also needs to be able to expand beyond the well of people who desperately need it right now.
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How do you tell whether there's a path out of an idea? How do you tell whether something is the germ of a giant company, or just a niche product? Often you can't.
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So if you can't predict whether there's a path out of an idea, how do you choose between ideas? The truth is disappointing but interesting: if you're the right sort of person, you have the right sort of hunches.
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And when these problems get solved, they will probably seem flamingly obvious in retrospect. What you need to do is turn off the filters that usually prevent you from seeing them. The most powerful is simply taking the current state of the world for granted.
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A good way to trick yourself into noticing ideas is to work on projects that seem like they'd be cool.
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Just as trying to think up startup ideas tends to produce bad ones, working on things that could be dismissed as "toys" often produces good ones. When something is described as a toy, that means it has everything an idea needs except being important
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The clash of domains is a particularly fruitful source of ideas. If you know a lot about programming and you start learning about some other field, you'll probably see problems that software could solve.
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But don't feel like you have to build things that will become startups. That's premature optimization. Just build things.
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Err on the side of doing things where you'll face competitors. Inexperienced founders usually give competitors more credit than they deserve.
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A crowded market is actually a good sign, because it means both that there's demand and that none of the existing solutions are good enough.
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There are two more filters you'll need to turn off if you want to notice startup ideas: the unsexy filter and the schlep filter.
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The unsexy filter is similar to the schlep filter, except it keeps you from working on problems you despise rather than ones you fear.
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One good trick is to ask yourself whether in your previous job you ever found yourself saying "Why doesn't someone make x? If someone made x we'd buy it in a second."
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One way to ensure you do a good job solving other people's problems is to make them your own. When Rajat Suri of E la Carte decided to write software for restaurants, he got a job as a waiter to learn how restaurants worked.
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one strategy I recommend to people who need a new idea is not merely to turn off their schlep and unsexy filters, but to seek out ideas that are unsexy or involve schleps.
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Even when the startup launches, it will sound plausible to a lot of people. They don't want to use it themselves, at least not right now, but they could imagine other people wanting it.
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At YC we call ideas that grow naturally out of the founders' own experiences "organic" startup ideas. The most successful startups almost all begin this way.
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It doesn't work well simply to try to think of startup ideas. If you do that, you get bad ones that sound dangerously plausible.
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Thousands of programmers were in a position to see this idea; thousands of programmers knew how painful it was to process payments before Stripe. But when they looked for startup ideas they didn't see this one, because unconsciously they shrank from having to deal with payments.
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Why is your inbox overflowing? Because you get a lot of email, or because it's hard to get email out of your inbox? Why do you get so much email? What problems are people trying to solve by sending you email? Are there better ways to solve them? And why is it hard to get emails out of your inbox? Why do you keep emails around after you've read them? Is an inbox the optimal tool for that?
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Even if you find someone else working on the same thing, you're probably not too late. It's exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors—so rare that you can almost discount the possibility.
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you can either build something a large number of people want a small amount, or something a small number of people want a large amount. Choose the latter.
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Live in the future, then build what's missing.
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It's 'Shocking' That Startups Are Ignoring A $500 Billion Market

It's 'Shocking' That Startups Are Ignoring A $500 Billion Market

www.businessinsider.com
Travis Hardman Travis Hardman
5 years ago
Twice as many enterprise startups have become billion-dollar companies compared to consumer startups
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At Sequoia, upwards of a hundred entrepreneurs a week present and if we're lucky, maybe a dozen of them are focusing on the enterprise
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Enterprise remains an "enormous opportunity" because companies are spending about $500 billion a year with legacy enterprise companies and those budgets are ripe for the plucking.
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Why you should continue working on your bad idea

Why you should continue working on your bad idea

joel.is
Travis Hardman Travis Hardman
5 years ago
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out; the brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They are there to stop the other people!” - Randy Pausch
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In addition to our own minds suggesting we should stop working on our idea, in the early stages a startup is so fragile that it is very easy for others to influence us. If someone remarks that our idea isn’t useful to them, or that we should do something else, or that we should get a “proper job”, it can easily make us stop and think.
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Almost always, when you learn the backstory, you find that behind every “overnight success” is a story of entrepreneurs toiling away for years, with very few people except themselves and perhaps a few friends, users, and investors supporting them.
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  Stop producing shit « Marius Andra's blog

Stop producing shit « Marius Andra's blog

mariusandra.com
Travis Hardman Travis Hardman
5 years ago
I don't agree with the content of this article, but this was a nice tip buried within.
“Exercise: come up with 10 ideas today. Then throw away the list. Come up with ten ideas tomorrow. And so on. I’ve written before: but in six months your life will be completely changed as a result.”
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Warby Parker (or, Finding Broken Systems That Are Full of Money) - Yusha Hu

Warby Parker (or, Finding Broken Systems That Are Full of Money) - Yusha Hu

www.thinkhard-ly.com
Travis Hardman Travis Hardman
6 years ago
The eyeglasses start-up Warby Parker is valued at +$100M only one year after founding because 1) it fits the classic definition of a disruptive company and 2) is an innovative company playing in a large market with unsophisticated competitors.
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My analysis of their success makes it clear why I think they deserve to be VC darlings. They found a big consumer-facing industry with high prices and poor products where, because of fashion and style, the product will always resist being commoditized.
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How I come up with new startup ideas (in 4 steps) – The Startup Toolkit Blog

How I come up with new startup ideas (in 4 steps) – The Startup Toolkit Blog

thestartuptoolkit.com
Travis Hardman Travis Hardman
6 years ago
Start with a business model canvas and fill in the boxes for which you have strong preferences.
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Constraints are in yellow (I want it) and red (I refuse to do it). The green ones are assets I have access to, but which I don’t have a particular emotional attachment to making use of.
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And don’t start writing in things you don’t care about.
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If an idea survives the google test, I’ll usually bounce it off an expert or someone from the target market.
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