Relentless Predator Upon the Obsolete

…a combination of relentless predator upon the obsolete and benevolent solver of the world’s problems. As ways of making money go, that’s pretty good. Startups are often ruthless competitors, but they’re competing in a game won by making what people want.

This is such a cool way to think about startups. I like the image of the relentless predator – some one on the hunt, looking to obsolete wasteful ways of doing things, saving people tons of money and making a few bucks in the process.

So how are startup ideas born?

1. If you are lucky, you will find a list like this to start with. It can fire your imagination and set you thinking to make your own list or flesh out the ideas a bit more.

2. You can watch out for problems and suddenly a better way solve some of them may pop-up in your head.

3. You can watch trends, think a bit ahead and build a few experimental proto-types and see what happens (You may be taking a bit of a risk with this approach and may end up building a solution looking for a problem).

4. Find the gap in an emerging technology space and fill a tiny bit of it with your solution.

5. Leverage a new technology to do something that has not been done before.

6. Pick some great idea that is successful and radically improve the implementation (make it simpler, easier, faster, more scalable).

7. The best, in my opinion, is to scratch your own itch and find something, for which you are the first user and see whether it has one of the above characteristics (an added bonus).

In our own startups , we have tried a few of these approaches. There may be many more. As Paul Graham says:

Consider this list to end with a giant ellipsis.

Dreaming up ideas can become a (nice) habit, so I keep an idealog. Not every idea is a good one or fit for a startup. But ideas trigger ideas and you never know where they may lead.

Importance of Startup Hubs

From Paul Graham’s The Future of Web Startups:

t might seem that if startups get cheap to start, it will mean the end of startup hubs like Silicon Valley. If all you need to start a startup is rent money, you should be able to do it anywhere.

This is kind of true and kind of false. It’s true that you can now start a startup anywhere. But you have to do more with a startup than just start it. You have to make it succeed. And that is more likely to happen in a startup hub.

I’ve thought a lot about this question, and it seems to me that the increasing cheapness of web startups will if anything increase the importance of startup hubs. The value of startup hubs, like centers for any kind of business, lies in something very old-fashioned: face to face meetings.

When you spend some time in Silicon Valley and go to Bangalore or Chennai, (I alternate between bay area and Chennai every few months), you notice significant differences. There is no SDForum with 15+ SIGs or ACM talks or other types of seminars and conferences. But slowly these things are starting up.

Paul talks about a lot of startups. It follows that these may require several startup hubs around the world and there may be an opportunity there.