April 6, 2020

Don't know where to start

Bojan @bojanstef

Hi all, I'm a long time lurker, this is my first time posting.

I've spent the last 5-6 years becoming a software engineer, learning about sales and marketing, watching Shark Tank and Dragons Den to learn what investors want to hear, but I feel stuck.

I'm stuck that I have no idea what I want to build. I've been entrepreneurial my whole life and I feel like I have the skills to succeed. I just literally have no idea where to start. Does anyone have resources on where to brainstorm ideas in group chats or something else? Anything else?

Thank you all in advanced. I'm trying my best.

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    Hi Bojan,
    Love this post and congratulations on stepping out of the shadows :)

    First and foremost - stop watching those shows - while they're entertaining, they have nothing to do with real-world investment, I've been to hundreds of VC and Angel meetings with my ventures, including world-famous names I've been lucky enough to get their time.
    I have found an interesting, non-scientific, gut-based correlation that I've shared with fellow entrepreneurs and they all agree - the more successful an investor, the nicer they are.
    I've met with small-time VCs with $10-20M in a micro fund that made me feel like I was wasting their time and met with $500M-$1B VCs who made me feel like I was the most interesting person in the world. A good investor is a partner - not someone trying to screw you out of a deal.

    The second (hard) learning from my experience - Ideas are not interesting. No one cares about your brilliant idea. Sorry.
    What I mean is very simple - if you find a problem that's not being solved by competitors - that usually means (99.999% of the time) that no one cares about this problem enough to pay for a solution. And let me give you an illustration - the famous Henry Ford quote - "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.". So true, there was NO market for an automobile because it didn't exist yet. But there WAS a market for transportation - a VERY BIG ONE. The same is true for airplanes and rocket ships - they are transportation systems.
    Go and find a large market (i.e. a lot of money exchanging hands) and find out how you can give more value to a segment of that market then what's being served today. The devil is in the details.

    And last but not least - There's a big difference between a bootstrapped, life-style business and a VC backed business. Don't aim for investors if you don't know everything about that difference. A lot of good businesses fail because they don't understand the hardships of a VC backed journey. Make sure that THAT is what you want.

    What a rant! :)

    Hope this helps,

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      Thanks, love the tips, alot of us are stuck in this position; we have the skills required, but fail to find an idea that meets our requirements. Love this approach though!

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        People say : Just find a problem and create a solution.
        I say : find a platform where people post their problems. Because we don't know what they want and where to find 'em😂

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      Wow @JonathanOron, that really was above and beyond. That was very inspirational and impactful. It's time for me to find a market to improve.

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    There are some good resources here: https://www.indiehackers.com/start

    I think it's important to understand your own mindset and goals, so I wrote this: Questions to Ask Yourself Before Starting

    I highly recommending finding a partner if you can… someone to work on lightweight projects with, just to dip your toe in the water and see if you work well together. They can be a source of forward momentum and help you get unstuck.

    I also wrote this primer, which you might find handy: How to brainstorm great business ideas

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    You need to find a problem that is unsolved. An unmet need in some vertical, preferably one where you have some expertise. If its software, then looks deep into engineering (SaaS, enterprise) functions. Ideally, its a problem you faced, but it doesn't have to be. Before writing a single line of code, speak to people, lots of people. Conduct user interviews. Its simple as asking open-ended questions, listening empathetically, really keeping a non-biased mind and just listening to people. Once you think you have identified a reoccurring problem, then go back and talk to more people, because again, you will save yourself lots of time with less effort. And again, ask open-ended questions and don't bias the audience to hear what you want. If you can't sleep at night thinking about it, then you're headed in the right direction. Next see if anyone is solving it, try to calculate the market size (this is key). You don't want to solve a $1M ARR problem where you'll build a lifestyle business. The market must be massive to be attractive. Why? Because if you fuck up, well it is a big market and you have room to iterate. If it's a small market and you fuck up, then you'll run out of cash by jumping around segments. Try not to just go and brainstorm, I would be an observer. Speaking to people about their problems is so easy, they'll just talk, and it's cheap!!! Happy to elaborate more on anything if needed. But great job on taking the step.

    Cred: I've spent a long time pitching to VCs of all sizes to no avail, and have raised 7-figure+, but still not from VCs, but now I know why.

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    I came up with a lot of ideas and posted them here. Feel free to choose any of these!

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    Here's a few things I've learned:

    1. It's sometimes better to just start, even if the idea you're starting with feels stupid and hard. Your first idea for a product will most likely suck, it almost always does. That's why it's important to get it out fast and get feedback. Feedback is the only way towards the right answers and even the right questions.

    2. I found asking people what they are currently struggling with to be a great source of inspiration. Some are struggling with stuff at work, some with stuff at their home. Maybe there's something you can build that will make their struggle a little easier

    3. Don't worry about investors in the beginning. Just get started with what you have. Building your product will also build your confidence in yourself and in the idea, that what you're making actually matters. It's a lot easier to talk to investors after that if you need to.

    Hope this helps.