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Ask HN: Ideas and what to do with them
10 points by oblib 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments
I was reading some "News" the other day that led me to an idea for a startup that I believe has a lot of potential.

It's not "the next Facebook" and it doesn't require any kind of new technology, it's bridging a gap in an existing market.

I live in the Ozark Mountains pretty far from the nearest town or city and, honestly, do not know a soul who codes. I can't even talk about what I do because everyone's eyes glaze over as soon as I tell them I code.

HN says the "team" is an important aspect of who they fund, but they also say they fund "ideas".

My experience is pretty narrow. I'm self taught and have learned on a need to know basis so I know I'm not the right person to design and code this app. I can help, and I can build a demo of what's needed, but it has to be scaled up beyond what I've worked on and I can't claim to have the expertise for that.

I do have experience with managing projects, but not huge ones. So, what I really have is an idea and that's all.

What should I do with it?




Ship a v1. Can be the most unscalable spaghetti code, but get a working v1 out. Throw out into the wild and get users on it. If something actually sticks, you're now in a position to talk to a technical confounder candidate that you've actually verified a market.

Your v1 can be completely thrown out and rebuilt by CTO.


Start a file somewhere. Use whatever is familiar and comfortable for you. Make it something easy with a very low barrier to usage. You might even just start with an email draft.

Put a link to this discussion in it. Over time, cull through this discussion and create a To Do list. That To Do list might include things like "validate the idea."

If you need a team, make it a goal to create a team. Research how other people have done that under similar circumstances. Do things like collect links to "founder dating" type sites. You might also look for info on single founders. I have some info on single founders curated on an old blog of mine and can give you the link if you want to look through that.

You might try getting a copy of the book Wishcraft. It has very pragmatic information about how to get stuff done in spite of being busy and all the usual human excuses for never getting anywhere.

Start working on the project, even if all you do is write a short overview or intro to a design doc. But you need files and some means to organize them and keep them all together so you can gradually build on these small crumbs of things.

I haven't looked at it in a long time, but I used to read through the YC application and I wrote up some of the answers for me personally as an exercise. If you can get a copy of their current application, start a file and start making notes concerning how you would answer parts of it. If you can't answer some things, make notes about what you need to do to get to the point where you can answer it.

Best of luck.


Thank you!

I've never heard of a "founder dating" type site but that's certainly interesting and I will look into that.

I'm a fairly productive person so I'm not worried about getting things done, and I have worked on the edges of the market the idea is meant for so I know where to start looking for some of the info needed to move forward, but I will look into the "Wishcraft" book as well because it too sounds interesting.

An overview is positively needed and that is something I can do now and roughing out a design doc will be easier with that sketched out.

I wish I could say the idea is fun and exciting, but it's not even close to that. It's more akin to a wheel barrow than a go-cart, but there's a lot more wheel barrow being sold and someone has to make them.


You'd be surprised to see how much you can achieve without writing a single line of code. I'm a CS Grad, but I always test my ideas through no-code MVPs [1]. Although I understand it gets a bit tricky when we're talking about mobile apps, but I'd suggest sticking to the web since it offers better discovery and is a hell of a lot convenient for "testing" users.

Most recent project: https://soochi.co


I would say that you should really just start. Start building a very basic prototype. Check out the founding story of Airbnb for motivation and an idea on how simple a prototype can be built https://getpaidforyourpad.com/blog/the-airbnb-founder-story/. Next, get it out there. Post it to your social media channels and try to get a few interested people that believe in your idea - get tons of feedback. With the prototype and valuable feedback from your potential customers you can go and look for a co-founder. Here I can really recommend pitching your idea before a large group of people in an accelerator or co-working space. There you usually have like-minded people and if you don´t find a co-founder usually you´ll get lots of additional feedback. It´s quite a long process but if you don´t give up on the hussle, you´ll find someone..eventually.


1. figure out one segment of your ideal customer that would be easiest to reach.

2. figure out biggest one benefit/reason they would buy your product. turn it into a question. "Would you like to ...?" example: Would you like to easily find potential customers for your new business idea?

3. find 5-10 of these potential customers and ask them the question. If one of them isn't even into the benefit, find a better/cheap way to reach your potential customer or find a better benefit.


Thank you all for your input.

Here's a bit more on it:

It's not a "millions of users" idea, so scaling for that may not be an issue, but security certainly is and it will require a team with the experience to make sure it's properly engineered.

These are not the kind of users I'm going to impress with a mom&pop, made in my garage, app. That approach is impossible.

The marketing effort is likely to be the key to success and the market really needs some in-depth research to design both that and the app.

It needs to be studied and brainstormed by a team to do it right, but it is a big market waiting for a solution to be presented so an opportunity exist to design and build and offer one.


If all you have is an idea, why is scaling even on your radar? Just do it. Postgres and a Flask app can theoretically scale to millions of users. By the time you have millions of users, you would also probably have millions in funding.


My 2cents based on my experience would be: 1. Forget about scaling and build a MVP asap. 2. For building this MVP if you need to learn new technologies started doing so. 3. Don't waste time


> an idea for a startup that I believe has a lot of potential.

The Business Model Canvas might help you think through your idea. Here's an overview of what it's about > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7o8uYdUaFR4

Relative to the team-- It might make sense to bring in freelance consultants via Catalant/Upwork. At least initially to get an MVP up and running.


Also, you don't need the perfect app just something your customers can use.

and, if you can't get this done without people you personally know, meet more people.


Calling ideas "a dime a dozen" massively overestimates their value.

Form a team to implement it, or tell somebody who will, before someone else comes up with it independently. All else fails, shout your great idea in public (twitter works well for this purpose) -- otherwise, nobody will ever know that you thought of it.

Or, if you don't care about people attributing it to you, you can just keep it close to your chest. It's not like you're likely to make money on even a good idea anyhow -- the odds are against any new business making money, period.


"Calling ideas "a dime a dozen" massively overestimates their value."

Absolutely true.

Forming a team is my first problem and priority. As I said, I live way out in the boonies here.

"It's not like you're likely to make money on even a good idea anyhow"

That true too, but it is likely this idea will make money. I understand enough to know that, and that is where I am right now.

It's also true that very few ideas are unique. If I saw the need it's very likely others have or will too. So it's a race to see who gets it done right first.

I cannot do that myself and I am very well aware of that.


step 1. Validate your idea as quickly and with as much minimal effort. step 2. present your idea with an MVP.get feed back identify your ideal customer. step 3. Iterate on your idea listen to feedback. step 4. Cross chasm( from early adopters to general users) step 5. Iterate based on feedback step 6. Change based on feedback




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