• look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself
  • want, build, few realize the worth (doing)
  • Why do so many founders build things no one wants? Because they begin by trying to think of startup ideas. (“made-up” or “sitcom”)
  • They don’t want to use it themselves, at least not right now, but they could imagine other people wanting it. Sum that reaction across the entire population, and you have zero users.


  • You can either dig a hole that’s broad but shallow, or one that’s narrow and deep, like a well.
  • 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?
  • Microsoft: Basic for the Altair; Basic for other machines; other languages besides Basic; operating systems; applications; IPO.


  • The truth is disappointing but interesting: if you’re the right sort of person, you have the right sort of hunches. If you’re at the leading edge of a field that’s changing fast, when you have a hunch that something is worth doing, you’re more likely to be right.
  • publish their lives semi-publicly on the Internet, they’d have been horrified at the idea. But Mark already lived online; to him it seemed natural.
  • Live in the future, then build what’s missing. (a gap in the world)
  • external stimulus hitting a prepared mind (notice the opportunities they represented, notice is the verb, not think up)
  • software is eating the world, and this trend has decades left to run.


  • when these problems get solved, they will probably seem flamingly obvious in retrospect
  • The most powerful is simply taking the current state of the world for granted. Even the most radically open-minded of us mostly do that.
  • work on projects that seem like they’d be cool
  • dismissing as toys. To us that’s positive evidence an idea is good.


  • “Entrepreneurship” is something you learn best by doing it
  • The clash of domains is a particularly fruitful source of ideas
  • Or don’t take any extra classes, and just build things.
  • the more a project has to count as research, the less likely it is to be something that could be turned into a startup (solving users’ problems)


  • It’s exceptionally rare for startups to be killed by competitors—so rare that you can almost discount the possibility
  • If you have something that no competitor does and that some subset of users urgently need, you have a beachhead.
  • 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


  • unsexy filter and the schelp filter
  • tedious problems or getting involved in messay ways with the real world.
  • the schlep filter is more likely to be an illusion
  • if there’s some idea you think would be cool but you’re kept away from by fear of the schleps involved, don’t worry: any sufficiently good idea will have as many.


  • Although empirically you’re better off using the organic strategy, you could succeed this way. You just have to be more disciplined.
  • When searching for ideas, look in areas where you have some expertise.
  • must be things you need
  • people don’t say that about things that are impossible to build.
  • a good job solving other people’s problems is to make them your own
  • When startups consume incumbents, they usually start by serving some small but important market that the big players ignore.
  • most successful startups generally ride some wave bigger than themselves


  • Live in the future and build what seems interesting. Strange as it sounds, that’s the real recipe.

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