Great idea for a startup? Hmm ... Hardly

    This is a free translation-retelling of this 2006 article that I stumbled upon at, authored by Paul Tyma . I did not find mentions on a habr, let there be a translation!

    So you have a great idea.

    Over the years, I launched a small handful of projects and created several companies. For example, Mailinator, Preemptive Solutions, Inc., and Classhat. In fact, I did them much, much more, but I heard about the majority, except maybe my grandmother. This is because mainly these were stupid ideas, unsuccessful attempts to do something, or too large-scale undertakings, so that I could bring them to release. Having learned from my mistakes, I now check each new idea for compliance with a certain set of rules in order to weed out good ideas from bad ones. Well, or those that seem to me as such.
    Do not forget these rules for canonicalStartup - when only you and your friend are the employees, and money - for beer and chips. If you have an extra couple of millions lying around in the zashashnik, you can do magic without these tips.

    And here are the rules:

    1) If there is no business model, this is a hobby, not a startup. I like to optimize the code. When Java first appeared, I wrote an optimizer for it. For months I tried to make some money on this, but it turned out that people are not really worried about the speed of their programs. And even more so, they are not ready to pay money for it. At least until a trained team of "sales people" does not prove the importance and universal benefit of acquiring our product. In most cases, ideas come from the environment in which I work, from activities that I love. Only a few of them have a real business model, when the consumer will bring you money. I have nothing against a hobby, but the business needs to be built on the fact that, among other things, it brings income, and not just the joy of being carried away by what you love.

    2) The best ideas are those that allow your customers to earn money . If you can say something like “Using our product, you will earn% X money” (where X is more than zero, even if not by much) - the idea is wonderful. Please note, do not " save X% money ." Earn money . The difference is bigger than it seems. Saving, of course, is great, but compare:
    • “Give us 100 rubles and you will save 10 rubles in a year.”
    • “Use our services and earn 5% more (and pay us a little of these 5%). Or don’t use and lose money. ”

    What would you choose?

    3) It is best to work on a business-to-business-client scheme(you are on the left). Yes, it’s best for you to be a company that works with companies that provide your service to customers. If you work directly with clients, get a lot of difficulties in the load. First, you will need to convince the client to pay for your services, and who likes to pay? Secondly, welcome to tech support hell. You will always have a bunch of dissatisfied users, if you can’t cope with the support, and you are unlikely to be able to - it is expensive and requires a bunch of human resources. If you have plans to make a paid service - do a support system in the first place. Thirdly, it is more difficult to conduct many small transactions than several large ones; you will need to develop the infrastructure. It is more difficult to sell a service for $ 10 1000 times than 10 times a service for $ 1000.

    However, if you just provide services to another company, this is also quite good. Large markets are difficult to control, and you can find your niche due to rapid growth, or, for example, in optimizing the business processes of serious companies.

    4) If you decide to work with clients directly, pay attention to possible sources of profit that do not come from the client . Make your service free. You now think that I hit my head, but look here: the service is free, which means we do not guarantee serious technical support or special stability, which means we are reducing our costs. On the other hand, a free service is more popular than a paid analogue and has a chance to cause a viral effect. Now remember the profit from advertising and affiliate programs - voila, a free, profitable service!

    5) Sometimes remember old ideas . Why is everyone so fond of AJAX? Because with it you can do things that previously could not be technically done. Thanks to progress, old ideas can sparkle with new colors.

    When Doom came out, 3D graphics had long existed. But the guys from ID were the first to notice that the PCs were fast enough to make a shooter and play in real time. Technology has stepped forward.

    Every time something appears or becomes much cheaper - this is an occasion to revise your ideas. Traffic became cheaper - video services appeared. Smartphones have appeared and become cheaper - a bunch of applications for them have appeared. So always, seize the moment.

    6) Come up with something to earn income again and again. Advertising on sites and all that is an easy way. But what if your product is an application? Why does Microsoft change format details with every release of Microsoft Word? Yes, new features, but in the end it's just text, why don't old versions open documents made in new ones? Microsoft just wants to. They want that when you can’t open the next document, you go and buy a new Word. They want to earn income again and again.

    From the outside, it may look like outright greed. Have you heard about the "software subscription"? In fact, this, of course, is "software for which we will constantly take money from you." If the products did not “wear out”, no one would buy new ones. However, if giving the user the user will see and feel the improvement, then everyone will be happy.

    Still sure your idea is good? Do not rush, there is another second part.

    The second part of the tips is here (english).
    Please report errors to the PM, correct as soon as I wake up. To everyone who read here - thanks!

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