How do you come up with startup ideas?

Here’s my reply to a person who asked this question:

  • Read PG’s essay on coming up with startup ideas ( and books on startups (Start Small Stay Small, Lean Startup, Rework, Zero to One, Abundance).

  • Read Edward DeBono’s “Serious Creativity” — the most brilliant book about generating ideas I’ve ever encountered. Not about startups or apps in particular, but very interesting.

  • There are startup ideas threads on HN: and

  • If you’re good at android development — please, PLEASE build a good text editor. It is the most important app for me, the first thing I look for in any new device, and all android text editors suck SO MUCH. I would easily spend 10−30 if you would build something like Editorial, that would be convenient to use on android smartphone.

  • Think if there’s something in your life that’s missing, some tool that you would like to use, and build that.

  • If that fails — think about the perfect niche, about people you like and respect, who use technology and/or could benefit from it; understand them deeply, identify their goals, problems, challenges; and build something for them.

  • If that fails — look for a different not tech-related hobby. Like music or writing or woodworking or something like that. Whatever makes you the most curious. That will help you with burnout, and will give you a great niche to work in. Then identify the problems you’re facing, and solve them with technology.

  • If that fails — talk to other people and ask if there’s anything they might need, if there’s any problems they have, etc.

  • Also — check out new mobile OS’es, like Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS, etc. These are new, emerging ecosystems, where there’s plenty of apps to build. You can simply look at the most successful iOS/Android apps, and copy them to these platforms.

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