[YC Startup School] Key takeaways from “How to get and evaluate ideas”
[YC Startup School] Key takeaways from “How to get and evaluate ideas”

[YC Startup School] Key takeaways from “How to get and evaluate ideas”

Feb 13, 2023

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How to get and evaluate ideas with YC Group Partner Jared Friedman

4 common mistakes of startup founders:

  1. Not solving a real problem: Solution in search for a problem (SISP)
    1. Example: Founders already have an idea or some expertise of some technology and they try to apply that tech to some field. That is a SISP.
    2. Key takeaway: Find an actual problem that people care about, and want to find solutions to.
  1. Getting stuck in “tarpit” ideas
    1. tarpit idea: seems like it is solvable but has a structural (management, behavioral or govt. related) reason why it is difficult to solve
    2. Example: People didn’t use “Interview Note” because 1) it wasn’t natural to them to record their interviews 2) NDA issue
  1. Not evaluating an idea: Not checking if this idea can be turned into an actual business
  1. Waiting for the perfect startup idea
Think of your initial idea as a good starting point because startup ideas morph over time
Paul Graham, YC

7 questions to ask about an idea

(It was originally 10 questions but I reduced it to 7 😃)
Q1. Do you have a founder/market fit? Is this a good idea space for you?
→ Pick a good idea for your team (something the team members have an expertise in)
Q2. How big is the market?
→ A good market to target is a market which is big currently or small for now but growing rapidly
Q3. How acute is the problem?
→ Avoid working on problems that are not big enough or people don’t care enough about.
→ If the alternative to your solution is nothing, then it is a good problem to pursue — Example: Brex, the corporate credit card for startups. If Brex didn’t exist, startups couldn’t get business credit cards!
Q4. Do you have competition?
→ Most good ideas have competition. Make sure you have more insight about the problem so your solution is better than the existing ideas.
Q5. Do you want this? Or do you know someone personally who would want this product?
→ Work on something you would want a good solution to.
Q6. Is this an idea you would want to work on for years?
→ You can end up working on this problem for the next 5 to 10 years so be honest to yourself about being able to work on this idea for a long time.
→ It’s okay even if an idea is “boring”. People tend to become passionate about it over time
Q7. Is this a scalable business?
→ SaaS businesses are scalable

The best way to have startup ideas:

→ Become expert at something valuable. (Web/app development or UI/UX design)
→ Work at startup
→ just build things for fun (turning your passion project into a startup)

Structured way (but not the best way) to have startup ideas:

→ Start with team expertise. Taking advantage of that expertise to build a product.
→ Start with problem you have personally encountered and don’t like the existing solutions.
→ Work to build things you personally wish existed (Example: Doordash) but beware of tarpit ideas (there could be a viable reason why the idea doesn’t already exist) → Take advantage of trends and things that have changed recently (Example: Online meeting platforms due to Covid-19) → New variants of successful companies → Talk to people and ask what problems they are facing
→ Find a co-founder and work on their idea XD