Organic Startup Ideas (via Paul Graham)

The reason you’re
overlooking them is the same reason you’d have overlooked the idea
of building Facebook in 2004: organic startup ideas usually don’t
seem like startup ideas at first. We know now that Facebook was
very successful, but put yourself back in 2004. Putting undergraduates’
profiles online wouldn’t have seemed like much of a startup idea.
And in fact, it wasn’t initially a startup idea. When Mark spoke
at a YC dinner this winter he said he wasn’t trying to start a
company when he wrote the first version of Facebook. It was just
a project. So was the Apple I when Woz first started working on
it. He didn’t think he was starting a company. If these guys had
thought they were starting companies, they might have been tempted
to do something more “serious,” and that would have been a mistake.

This really nails it for me. I used to come up with ideas all the time. I had a few notebooks where I would scribble things down as potential ideas to play with. The ideas have slowed as I was quick to dismiss them. The problem is, and looking back this seems even more true for those ideas that were special to me, I was quick to shoot them down as not having “business potential.” I keep coming up with similar ideas because I’m looking to fix something I want fixed for me, but always brush them aside as ideas that don’t have hope of ever becoming real businesses. Maybe I need to re-examine those. Or maybe I just need to be willing to play more.

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