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Ask HN: How to find profitable side project idea?
473 points by adamfaliq on Feb 14, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 202 comments
Hi there HNers,

Last summer I worked on a startup as lead developer. I learnt about running a startup and talking to users while working there. I have now quit working there to focus on my studies (second year university in London).

I would like to work on a side project that eventually would lead to some revenues this summer. My question is, how did you find problem(s) to solve ?

I have read books and blogs suggesting that the best problem is the one that I have faced before. I find it difficult to do this when almost every problem that I found, there has always been existing solution or the solution can be solved with some quick searches.

Any idea or thought is really appreciated. Thank you.

The world is full of people in your situation who's main area of interest and experience is primarily in software development or start-ups. Because of this, almost every good idea that touches your entire realm of experience been attempted 10 times. There's tons of competition even for really bad ideas - just look at how many start-ups in SF tried to offer "laundry as a service"!

The secret is to go out and make friends who work in different industries that are totally unrelated to your experience. The world is full of profitable niche industries that need custom solutions that software developers have no idea exist. The business and industrial world largely still runs on excel spreadsheets, emails and word docs. Those are all areas ripe for new products and many of the top companies in those niche areas have no idea how to apply technology to solve their problems more efficiently.

> The secret is to go out and make friends who work in different industries that are totally unrelated to your experience.

I'd slightly rephrase this: make friends who are business owners in different industries.

Having a good idea is only the first step. You need to be able to market it, and ultimately sell it.

Business owners face business problems, will have an idea on how much they're willing to spend on it, and will understand the budgets and where they can be applied. Rank and file employees often do not make purchasing decisions on behalf of their companies. Some may, but most do not.

My personal story:

I became friends with the owner of a nearby gym, and I was immediately impressed with how he ran his business, and more importantly his ability to stay ahead of the curve, learning and adopting new ways to market his business.

For a free membership, I would do one off small projects, that typically string together API's offered by the different services he used (Scheduling, waivers, forms). None was particularly interesting, until he came up with a hodgepodge system for contacting new members.

I helped him build some flexibility, and we both came to the conclusion that if we built a platform that specifically did this, we could market it and sell it.

We boot strapped it and made about $13k in revenue the first year.

Now that we have a viable business, we've shifted to growth: get customers.

“I would slightly rephrase this: make friends who are business owners in different industries.”

I find it difficult to put in place a process to consistently meet business owners.

Some ideas: - going to meetups or better organizing one - going to conferences or better give a talk - be part of mastermind groups (but dont know where to find good one) - hang out on entrepreneur communities like indiehackers.

Other ideas?

Go to tradeshows or conventions. They are the biggest concentration of business owners anywhere.

Thanks for sharing your experience, that sounds awesome!

>The secret is to go out and make friends who work in different industries that are totally unrelated to your experience.

Great advice, my SO works outdoors doing field studies and the amount of shit they talk about doing manually is astounding. They pay people (or sometimes unpaid interns) to go through hours of videos documenting everything they see! Almost all cataloging and measurements are done with little to no technology. Another example; I volunteer for a program that does some human intake and processing, before I got there everyone used a series of paper forms that got updated by work of mouth. Now? Google Spreadsheets.

There's hundreds of industries, organizations, and groups that do extremely manual labor intensive work because it hasn't even occurred to them it can be automated or turned in to a service, but you'll never meet them if you hang around tech people all the time because the solution is always on their mind.

I still remember this guy:

> I work at NASA creating procedures for spacewalks (EVAs).

> Currently we write these procedures in Microsoft Word.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5585535 (2013)

Hm, I wonder if they changed the system by now?

edit: Seems like there was still work to be done 3 years ago at least..

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13080941 (2016)

Nope, we're still using the same system. Wow...the first time I mentioned that here was 2013. Ouch. It's something I've wanted to work on all this time but just haven't been able to fit it in. Some students used it as a group project [1] last semester, though, and another group of students may pick it up this semester...so I'm hopeful.

[1] https://github.com/jamesmontalvo3/spacewalk

Yes, that's my experience as well. Once you step out of tech bubble you'll encounter countless small and even mid-sized businesses that could greatly benefit from rather simple CRUD apps and solutions that might seem very obvious to you.

Or in other, more specific words (and I have no affiliation with the product): Showing them how to use something like Airtable and setting up a simple template for them could change their world.

Ha! I did a webapp just for tagging observation videos. This is for my SO college students, they were doing it in excel. It's a big headache for maintenance, but it probably saved her students alot of time

There are niche apps that do it but they charge a high fee to the college. Case you are wondering:


You use “the world is full” twice. First to describe the high supply of software developers looking for projects and second to describe the high demand for said services.

So why hasn’t supply met demand? Why isn’t the market working more efficiently?

There can be various explanations for that, obviously, including the lack of information you hint at (“secret”, “have no idea”), but Occam's Razor would suggest we examine the assumptions first.

I’m not so sure that there is such a strong demand side in this market.

I think part of the issue is that the software startup playbook is not as generalizable as its advocates suggest it is, and an under-emphasis on domain expertise vs software expertise

For ex, in multi-stakeholder industries like healthcare where the people who pay for a product often have incentives that conflict with the incentives of the user of a product, following the North Star of "making something people want" can lead you astray. So many digital health companies make products no one will pay for, or that end up in a narrow consumer lifestyle niche instead of actually improving healthcare in a meaningful way. A team of engineers / data scientists who "follow the user" isn't enough. It isn't even enough to focus on physicians. You really need to talk to administrators and see how the sausage is made

Not sure why this comment is being downvoted, it's a good point. The GP includes this quote, echoing many other people I've encountered who build software:

> The business and industrial world largely still runs on excel spreadsheets, emails and word docs. Those are all areas ripe for new products and many of the top companies in those niche areas have no idea how to apply technology to solve their problems more efficiently.

Spreadsheets are incredibly useful tools! They're general-purpose, easy to use and powerful. Millions of people use them for programming without even knowing it.

Email is still great for communicating! It's everywhere, it's easy to use and it's totally interoperable. How many startups are building decentralized communication tools right now? Email has been federated for decades.

The notion that use of these tools is an opportunity for some more efficient proprietary solution is a bad assumption. People use them because they're good and they work. The parent is right: there's less demand than you think.

While using those tools isn't a sure sign of an opportunity, I've rarely met someone running their business on spreadsheets that didn't wish they had some extra functionality or ability to scale up larger. Sure, some are plenty happy with Excel and email, but there are just as many that would pay for something better if it existed or if they knew about it.

Lots of things are worth applying some automation to, but not worth enough to pay someone to provide as a service.

There's strong demand at a competitive price point and acceptable license terms.

Even though many software companies and startups are trying to push SaaS software "rental" terms, many of the market participants are looking for a one-time purchase more similar to "ownership"

Well I will doubt the supply side. I think it's a simpler assertion, because I know so few nerds.

I think if you live in silicon valley, you have a distorted view of how many people can build software.

I grew up in the mid-south and know of literally one or two other people that code.

I know live in a major metro area and still only know maybe 3 people that code. It is actually a rare skill.

At the same time, I can't even count how many contractors, real estate agents, sales and marketing, and doctors and lawyers that I know.

everyone from high school is a real estate agent

Global dev population is 20M. If the global workforce is 4B people, that's 5 per thousand. Not much indeed.

> almost every good idea that touches your entire realm of experience been attempted 10 times

I strongly disagree with the implied defeatism here. There have been many attempts and many failures with many popular ideas for non-obvious reasons, and it is worth being #11 if you can A) identify why the previous attempts failed, and B) find a different angle that avoids the issues.

The original poster is a college student looking for a side project to do in their spare time. It's not defeatism to suggest that they should probably look for side project ideas first in low-competition areas rather than in very competitive areas where multiple teams of experienced people have already failed.

Of course if they have a specific insight into a business that has failed ten times that they think is a major differentiator, then of course they should investigate that first. But then they wouldn't be posting on a forum for business ideas :)


Google wasn't the first search engine. But they were effectively the last. First to market is only important insofar as it's correlated with making sticky products, building a moat, and not dying. That's what you actually want.

Hmm. I switched successfully to duckduckgo...

Fair enough, but Google has made their mission about making the world's information accessible, moreso than being the best search engine; I assume you still use YouTube, perhaps you use Google Maps (although there are plenty of good navigation alternatives), perhaps you use Google Translate, etc.

> I assume you still use YouTube

An aside, but funny enough, one thing I like about DDG is how much better it is at finding YouTube videos. I assume Google is encumbered by antitrust fears or something when it comes to video search.

I’m not sure it’s a complete aside. What you’re describing is the general recipe that business school warns against for entrenched industries. That is to say, if you give up low margin products, you give an inroad for competitors to gain competancy and scale. Rebar in the steel industry is sort of the hallmark example. Even though search is still an important part of their ad income, I don’t see google’s dominance in search lasting another 100 years, since there will continue to be smaller competitors who excell in some small low margin area and it will slowly chip away at their brand.

When you put it like that, suddenly it starts to make a lot more sense to me why Google seemingly relinquishes projects to their graveyard; they probably have a lot of competitors for each abandoned project that do the same thing as well, or better. It would be nice if Google had a default policy of allowing exports of stored data to said competitors, though..

I don't think it's defeatism because what GP seems to point out is OP needs to expand his experience pool to see the low hanging fruits that reside outside of the software world.

I think there is also a C) You might just be lucky when the other guys weren't. Sometimes, luck is as much a factor as hard work.

Also, there are tons of VC backed startups that "failed" because they couldn't squeeze enough profit out of their niche to pay for their exorbitant and lavish burn rate. A one-man, or very small team can find great profit where some of these bloated startups have failed.

del.icio.us vs pinboard.in

the mistake is to think that others have failed because they were not good enough. If 10 people tried before and failed, you can be darn sure that there's a good reason for those failures, and it's not lack of ability. When it comes to online software products, businesses always fail due to 2 problems: #1 no one wanted the product (or not enough) or #2 cost of acquiring customers was too high. These aren't going to be solved with better code.

Key word: product market fit

The product has to be good enough to solve the problems of the market. #2 is also a downside of this - you can't dump marketing money to get around PMF.

Facebook is an interesting company which had a poor market (people are fine without it) but they managed to improve the product, the economics, the scale, just enough, and ended up one of the biggest companies in the world.

But, we're in established markets now. People have been using FB and many other sites for many years now and those behaviors are very much ingrained in people. There are only so many hours in a day someone can be online, so to some degree all new applications are competing with FB and the other incumbent apps. It's much much harder today than 10 or 15 years ago.

Established markets still need PMF. And existing sites/apps can lose their PMF.

There's a large demand for, say, a more privacy based social networking website. Or a gaming based social networking site, like what FB-Zynga used to be.

Google has a large blind spot too. Yelp is filling one, Pinterest covers their image search weakness, tons of travel apps/sites are filling another. But there's many, many things that can be more localized or made into a niche.

I'm not sure if it is harder, as technology has significantly improved. I think we're at the stage where less of the effort is building/designing an app, and more of it is in better product development.

The secret is to go out and make friends who work in different industries that are totally unrelated to your experience.

I agree with this, but I'd add one more point. In addition to face-to-face time with these people (which can be hard to come by, either on your end or on theirs), you can try to learn about other industries by reading their books, whitepapers, journals, etc., watching their videos, documentaries, etc., and following industry trade magazines, analyst reports, and the like. This stuff you can at least do on your own time, late at night or on the weekends, whenever you have time to spare.

Given this kind of research, you can put together a tentative "value hypothesis" regarding a potential solution in some other space. Then you can maximize the value of your face-to-face time with other people by talking through a specific hypothesis, instead of just an open-ended fishing expedition.

Of course, if somebody is willing to give you a half day of their time, and you have that half day free, then go for it. But generally, people are more open to sharing their time if you can make it clear that you respect their time and that the interaction will be somewhat directed / focused.

I’ve thought about doing this sort of thing, but co-opt a friend/colleague/someone your husband knows as the SME in the different industry.

You need the insight in to that industry — by definition, you don’t have it. So find that person, and don’t just take their idea and leave. Work with them. Have them be the champion in the industry for this thing you make. Who knows best where the thing can be sold? They do!

I would add to that though, that while they are the expert in their industry, you would be surprised how experts can have blinders on regarding inefficiencies. So don't be afraid to ask questions and pitch ideas. I have seen plenty of experts that don't recognize huge pain points in their own industry because that's just the way it's always been done. You can be an expert in something, but if you aren't also an expert in software, you likely haven't thought of all the possibilities that software could solve for you.

Not that I want to be anti-innovation, but what if spreadsheets allow the user to be more in control, have more flexibility and avoid monthly payments of 3-5 cloud services? Maybe replacing every spreadsheet is not optimal.

Airtables is a good example, though -- I'm seriously thinking of creating an OSS version of Airtables, that has more field types -- like being able to edit using Markdown... or join across bases, not just tables.. There's SO much more you could do w/ their tech, and blocks should be free - just they should have a marketplace and take a cut of sales--something like shopify... if I OSS'd it, I'd do some hybrid like wordpress does, but require a % on anything in the 'app store' -- but all core features would be free / foss.

would be amazing!

Features I'd like to build into it: Bubble like app from spreadsheets. Hosted and oss version. Extra types: json, md, xml, etc. Time tracker.

This is horrible advice. You're positing that there is no room for innovation within the software development domain. This is a stupid assertion.

This is great advice.

Is this just your "reasonable sounding opinion" or have you yourself had any success in doing what the OP is asking about? Or are you yourself sitting in a comfortable office job in "business and industry"?

> The business and industrial world largely still runs on excel spreadsheets, emails and word docs.

Why assume that changing this hasn't been "attempted 10 times"? Perhaps the reason for that is simply opaque to you and as a software developer you think in terms of software solutions. However, getting these solutions sold is the real problem.

Don't throw away an idea because someone else has already made it. This is crucial. People completely underestimate the amount of money you can make as a runner-up, or even as a 5th or 10th-place service in some markets. Most of the products I'm involved with have made me quite substantial amounts over the years compared to the minimal time required to upkeep them. There's at least ten companies I can name at an instant that do almost exactly the same, yet I still make money doing the very same thing. Appreciate the invaluable advantage a market-proven idea brings and focus on whatever its target audience lacks or loves most about the most-popular offering. It doesn't mean you have to copy something (where's the fun in that), but consider this if you start working on something and then come across someone who's done the exact same thing with good success. Don't give up, use it.

There are actually pretty straightforward reasons why it's not necessarily optimal to be first-to-market. Someone else has already tons of research into product-market fit and made mistakes along the way that you can emulate and learn from respectively. They've also jump started demand in the market for a similar product that perhaps has different features/quality/pricing

You don't always have to take an unknown path. Many times there are inefficiencies in the current businesses which you can try to solve. Also there may never be a perfect idea unless it is put to execution. I run a community board for deals https://flagdeals.in

see: gitlab

See: gitHUB. The whole reason git even exists is because Linus wasn't completely happy with the service he was getting from a SaaS source control service! I mean we can go back decades in this field.

I send out a daily newsletter with short snippets of pain points in different industries - http://www.oppsdaily.com

Here is archive of sorts - http://www.oppslist.com

The ideas are of a mediocre quality, but I find they help stimulate thought.

Another idea is to go to a place like Fiverr and look at which services are most widely bought. Then build a saas solving one of those problems.

I checked out your project and it looks pretty good, I like the fact that ideas also have an estimated value attached to them. Would you mind if I included some of your ideas in my own project - Idea Miner (https://ideaminr.com)? Of course, I will mention the source.

Interestingly, I think there is a market for this. Maybe not as big as Product Hunt, but has a market for all potential builders to build something new.

very cool but my eyes!

How can someone follow this list? I'd be interested in following and possibly knowing which are new when I come back.

Fixed the color scheme. For sites like ProductHunt and BetaList the information is updated daily, for sites with less activity such as IndieHackers the information can be a few days old. For now you can bookmark the website and check it out daily until I add some social media, a newsletter and all of that stuff.

I looked at your list, sorted by "new": https://www.oppslist.com/?order=new

And the opportunities listed all seem at least a year old. That's not very "new", is it?

Yep, you're right. I took a year off from generating the ideas to work on a few other projects. I'm dusting the cobwebs off everything now and getting it booted up again. Great catch!

Thanks! Looking forward to it.

this is a great idea. thank you for making this. -- i just tried to subscribe but your subscription link(s) are hanging. can you add me (email in profile) ?

Thanks for letting me know! Added!

Same here please

Sure thing! Shoot me your email - cory@oppsdaily.com and I'll add you!

OppsDaily is a brilliant! I'm loving reading real-world problems that people are willing to pay for. Well done.

Thanks a bunch! Glad to hear you're enjoying it! Apologies in advance for all the duds I send out :)

Can you share any successful story regarding that service? That someone resolved problem and become rich?

No reports of riches yet. Although a few people have shared with me products they've built, that were inspired by the email.

I personally tried out an outsourced sales venture based on one request. I made around 1k in revenue the first month doing that. I found that my overhead was high and it was a competitive landscape to find clients.

At this point in time, I'm just playing the messenger. I'm not trying to get people rich. Although, I think in the future that may be a metric I start to measure myself by. Hope this helps :)

After many decades of coming up with ideas, I have discovered something. Every single one of my good ideas have been ideas that somebody else also had. It shouldn't be surprising because there are something like 7.7 billion people in the world. If you have a good idea that nobody else had, then that's a 1 in 7.7 billion idea ;-) Having realised this, I now use the fact that the idea is already known to be a good test of how good the idea is. If the idea has already been tried then I get an even better idea of how good it was.

Here's the thing: the world is not short on good ideas. Actually, you don't even need to have one to be successful. You just need to be able to recognise a good idea. The rest is execution. You execute better, you will win bigger.

Here's another cool thing I learned in decades of looking at the technology world: name one dominant company whose product was the first to market in its field. I literally can't find one! They probably exist (and this is HN, so there will be someone coming along shortly to point it out to me ;-), but the most important thing to realise is that most (by an incredible margin) successful projects became successful be learning from the previous king in its area. Word processor, spreadsheet, OS, game (of any genre), source control service, etc, etc, etc.

Don't be afraid not to innovate. Learn how to deliver. Learn how to distinguish between good and bad. Learn how to optimise the good. Learn how to please unhappy customers of existing products. Learn how to do all that while making money, not spending it.

Or the other way is just to close your eyes and pretend you invented it. If you become dominant, nobody will realise you weren't the first ;-)

I was lucky and found a small little gem on 1kprojects.com that turned itself into a nice little profitable side-project in 5 weeks (not linking to it because i don't want to seem like I'm advertising). Making half my monthly salary at my day job from it.

Sometimes it's just the simplest, least technical and gimmicky things that make money.

To the extent you're willing to comment, I'd be interested in knowing about your criteria for selecting such a project.

- was the domain related to your expertise, or in a niche that was new to you?

- what made this project stand out from others / appear to have potential?

- was codebase quality a factor in purchase?

- do you inherit things other than software from the seller? EG customers, marketing channels, analytics, etc?

- what was the value-add that made it work under your stewardship but not the seller's Sales / marketing / dev / featureset / etc

- Are you interested in doing this repeatedly?

To answer your questions:

- Yes, the domain area was something that I was interested in already, but not necessarily practised. - Quite honest, I chose it purely on price and the design of the items bought. The dev put in effort to get everything designed nicely. - No, not at the time. It was a rails project so quality was not considered since its too easy to add on/rewrite where needed - Got customer lists, source code + design source, social media pages, analytics, payment profiles, domain. - I had a network locally that I knew I could sell to. I sold hard and 3 big agencies are now using it at a decent monthly fee. - Definitely! I'm scouring 1k daily now and have found a few other gems.

"I had a network locally that I knew I could sell to"

I suspect this is the key to success in most smaller startups. Instead of focusing on getting 0.01% of a global market go for 10% of very local/focused market.

A prepopulated sales channel goes a long way.

Thank you very much for your answer! Both the most predictable and the most interesting thing IMO is the factor of your existing network in the success of the product. More and more I'm seeing the compound returns of network reach in the careers of my peers who have spent their entire lives working with large teams/customer bases. If I had to restart my career today, I would spend the first 5-10 years in enterprise and then go startup, instead of the reverse.

Wishing you the best – really great to have an income stream like that, buying you room to make even more successful bets.


Just to clarify since you are responding like you authored the original post. Are you also the `johnnyrockit` account and just signed in under `gketuma`?

The UI/UX certainly leaves a lot to be desired :3

I noticed that one too when I browsed 1k a few days back. It advertised that it was already making money. Congrats on your purchase,

That's not the OP, but yeah, I saw it as well. It made me wish that 1k had a "sort by MRR" option. MRR is a very loud positive signal.

edit: and since it's from another HN'r, good work! It's a good idea with a really tasteful/simple execution.


Monthly Recurring Revenue. It's the simplest metric for a subscription based service or SaaS.

That’s not the one I don’t think. It was listed on 1k projects 3 days agp for $950. And that’s not OP posting.

Well, probably not. OP said they make half their monthly salary from it. That site makes $300. Maybe OP is in a poorer country and makes $600 as a software engineer, and uses a Mac.

They did post about it three years ago, so it seems linked to them. But I'd wait for OP to confirm: the person posting is not OP and may just be guessing based on OP's post history and having searched 1k projects.

Bah, go ahead and link! you've demonstrated good will already by withholding the link ... but now I (and I'm sure we) are curious about it, if you're willing to share :)


Just to clarify since you are responding like you authored the original post. Are you also the `johnnyrockit` account and just signed in under `gketuma`?

No, that's not me

Thanks, so it seems like a spam comment trying to get people to buy their app, using your comment as fuel.

What a fraud that one is; spamming it everywhere.

Never knew you could sell software on gumroad.

Yup, I sell my software on Gumroad too and would recommend it. They even have support for software license numbers, though I haven't used that myself.

Wow, didn't know about this site. Thanks for the referral. 1kprojects.com seems to have a better list of active projects than sideprojectors.com , which is the only site I know of where people sell or barter side projects.

> which is the only site I know of where people sell or barter side projects.

I'm a bit surprised you haven't heard about this one: https://flippa.com

What did you do in that 5 weeks to make it profitable?


Just to clarify since you are responding like you authored the original post. Are you also the `johnnyrockit` account and just signed in under `gketuma`?

Please stop your spam.

@adamfaliq here are my bulletpoint suggestions: - find something people are doing in excel over and over, make it a saas (search google keywords for excel templates) - find something that currently costs people time to do (some form of shopify work?) and automate it or make it a profit center for someone - pick an existing marketplace (salesforce, shopify, magento, etc) and build something there so you're spending less on marketing and know there is a built in audience used to paying for things

at its core it is a matter of can you save people money? time? or can you make them more money? those are the reasons people pay for things. Also competing on price alone is a fools errand.

feel free to email me for more help, i literally do this for a living (helping students generate and grow their businesses at a university).

The quickest way to build an impressive SaaS project in 2019:

1. Find a cool machine learning project with preferably pre-trained models so you don't have to do much cleaning/moving data.

2. Get those models doing inference on a server and expose it as an API.

3. ??? (marketing/sales/business stuff)

4. Profit

Alternative: build datasets that offers insights on X.

Examples: - Newswhip crawls news articles and uses the FB api to get share counts. Newsrooms use their data to find out what is trending

- SuperData crawls info from Twitch and YouTube to provide insights into the games that are engaging.

- Similarweb provides data into the traffic that websites are getting

- AppAnnie scrapes App rankings to provide insights into the growth and trends of apps.

- Ahrefs built a huge database of backlinks and provides insights into who is linking to your site or your competitors.

you lost me at 3.

Any examples?

There are probably a bunch on ProductHunt.

For example https://remove.bg got a lot of upvotes - it probably uses this on the backend:


So who would pay for that? I can’t imagine there’s much demand for an app to remove image backgrounds?

I think you have errors in this regard. Because in such work, Now the probability that has been created is incredible. You have been urged to investigate on some companies who belong to the same as remove.bg, for exemple: https://clippingpathindia.com

they’re selling API access, so someone who needs to do this en masse, eg if you had an app that needs avatars with a clear face pic, dating apps, etc. Perhaps researchers looking to analyse facial features who want to skip this step, law enforcement looking to clean up a bunch of selfies, media/tv companies building copy for ads, a photoshop plugin builder etc.

Building your own deep learning model is expensive and resource intensive, if it’s a solved problem it’s a great thing to outsource.

you still need to run that tensorflow model on a monster server to see performance - no ? That can be quite expensive.

That's why I put ??? as step 3. :D

I'm not the person to sell you it. That's just an example where someone might make money.

If you've got pageviews, you've potentially got revenue.

Stock/Forex predictions with multiple ML models where clients could choose which ones they would like to follow. Bonus $ for showing them the best performing model for their portfolio etc. With a simple PWA app and UI and some scalable AWS/lambda instances to handle the load and a couple of instances to keep training/predictions set going.

I feel like machine learning is to the stock exchange like regular expressions are to html: everyone who learns about the first will at some point think them to be useful for dealing with the latter.

And they will be wrong because HTML is a Chomsky Type 2 grammar (context-free grammar) and RegEx is a Chomsky Type 3 grammar (regular expression). RegEx has no memory or stack.

There are forms of ML that have memory/stack, and I would think you have to use something more complex for the stock market than "recognizing patterns". For short term trading there are definitely useful pattern recognition systems that can effectively trade.

Find a popular service (Salesforce, Wufoo, Asana, Xero, Gmail, etc) and scour the forums for things people repeatedly request to be added. Pick a popular request that you have reason to believe won’t be added as a feature soon (e.g. company said so, it’s been years of waiting, it’s outside of obvious product expansion, etc). Go build it as an add-on (chrome extension, api, etc). Market it on the forums. You can even reach out to people and ask in advance if they would pay. Show them screenshot mockups and state a price.

I was in a similar situation as you except I have a full-time job. I started https://cronhub.io a year ago and it's currently a profitable side-business.

You don't need to focus on the idea too much. I think it's important but seeing other companies solving the same problem should not discourage you to come up with your own solution.

Take a look at these products for inspiration (https://www.indiehackers.com/products) and some of them solve a similar problem but they still co-exist.

Thanks for using Bulma ;-)

Thanks for making it :)

Indie Hackers is a good resource https://indiehackers.com

The lowest effort/highest reward ones I have seen are curated subscription email groups e.g. a vetted list of high quality freelancer jobs for freelancers.

I have seen more success from freelancers -> very profitable side projects than any other form. It makes sense: you're being paid real money to provide a custom solution to a problem, so if you can make a generalizable version of that solution you can at least feel confident that you're solving a problem people will throw money at to fix.

The most common thing I've seen is that freelancers will (as the situation calls for it) strike a deal with their client to carve out a feature as an independent SAAS, bill the customer a much reduced rate for that "set" of work and bring them on as the first "customer" of the SAAS so there's some social proof.

I think freelancers and contractors also have an advantage in that they're exposed to a far wider set of business problems when compared to a developer working as an employee.

When you're exposed to a bigger set of problems, you're more likely to see something that you can provide a solution to. And when you see similar challenges happening again and again, you start to get a sense of what problems need a software solution. If only one client has a specific problem, it might not be amenable to a SaaS solution. But if you see the same problem occurring over and over across multiple clients, you might just have a good SaaS idea on your hands.

All freelancers should learn how to quickly assemble a simple SaaS (e.g. Bootstrap + Flask + Stripe) and then quickly implement a version of whatever they were doing in their paid projects (making sure it's legal ofc) and expose it as an SaaS using their SaaS template. They can even form a separate Delaware LLC for each of them, once the SaaS is built they can just try to sell it; lots of money there as well as not many people can build a company from the scratch.

The "Stripe Delaware LLC" scheme comes with quite a few pitfalls: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18870886

wow... what for?

There are tons of problems that haven't been solved. Best way to identify one is to get involved with small companies and find their pain points. Especially ones not directly involved in technology. Think about commerce shops for example. Or art shops. Or food shops. You have to gain experience from the inside to come up with an idea, or if that's not possible just go ahead and ask them directly to name a few of their issues.

I did a consulting gig for an art gallery a couple years ago and I came up with a dozen ideas by watching how they operated. I'm sure the same applies for a gazillion of markets out there, ones where technology isn't that dominant.

Side note. You may want to take a look at the famous "passive income" threads in here. There are hundreds of ideas and projects in them that could inspire you to build something new. Just make a search for "passive" on the search box at the bottom and good reading.

Thats hard to answer. And to be honest, if I had any good ideas, I would probably work on them myself.

Sometimes you just have to compete against existing ideas and try to do better than them.

I, honestly, picked a library that I was passionate about (puppeteer) and sorted by either most commented or most reacted. This plus the fact that I was having hosting issues with Headless Chrome. browserless.io came quickly after.

I know this sounds dumb, but I found this to be very useful


It's an entertaining read, but the premise is

- idea generation is a skill - you need to practice - come up with 10 garbage ideas per day (and occasionally one or two are good)



Follow up reading: Peter Thiel’s “Zero to One”


I did a joke side project that encouraged users to pay $1 for a ridiculous startup idea ("Uber for firemen" or "Disrupt the cat grooming industry")

It made me $25 - but gave me the next idea. It had turned out to be more annoying than I imagined to put a payment button on a website (unless I wanted to use PayPal. I didn't - I use Stripe).

Without running a back-end, like an ecommerce app or a home-rolled Heroku app or something - for token exchange, you can't use Stripe. I don't mind building that kind of thing, but I figured other people must.

So I built Trolley [1] - it's a popup payments widget / cart, using Stripe, that works just by pasting in a snippet of HTML.

4 months later and I've got a few hundred users, I've started marketing it specifically to JAMstack and static site people, and I'm enjoying making it, very much.

[1] - https://trolley.link

You'd be surprised how many problems are 'solved' but only barely. I use software that I hear people complain about every day. They have pretty sales webpages but the software itself is buggy, slow, hard to use, and support is unresponsive. Just make something 10% better and you would make a killing.

I'm avoiding mentioning a product or category not just to avoid throwing someone under the bus, but because I can think of many examples of this. None of the software (or any other kind of product) that I use today was the first of their kind. They learned the lessons from the earlier versions, and did it better.

Even if every problem you can think of has been solved (and I'm skeptical of that), I'm sure you don't think that all existing software is already perfect. Pick something that's terrible, and do it better.

Would you be willing to give a few examples of such products if I messaged you separately?

Let dissect this a little,

1. List 3-5 things that you enjoy doing routinely 2. Now imagine how you can improve some of its aspects 3. What would that ideal world look like? 4. Everything can be improved!

Mine - Meditation - When I was starting guided meditation options were limited, still are to an extent. Some are expensive and some are limited with options. It does not have to be a solo journey like mine and many others' were. If I did not have anything to work on I'd create a database of guided meditation tools resources, there are 1000's on youtube. I'd categorise them by mood, skills-level etc... Have a basic social aspect to it by adding a community that share the passion and I then can introduce paid features such as Journaling etc. By leveraging the free database of contents out there one would have a decent competitive advantage. Just a thought...

I thought about this a while ago. And while I have about 5 really solid ideas already I want to make time to execute... if I didn't here is what I would do.

I would go out and take part time jobs in all sorts of industries. Go be a landscaper for 2 weeks. Ride shotgun in a trucking rig for 2 weeks. Tag along with a surgeon for a day or two. I think that I would leave with a ton of ideas.

There is (was at least) even a website where you can pay others to apprentice them for a "day in the life", some are talented, some are celebrities.

Think of when kids play, if there are toys everywhere they will end up combining the ideas in different ways. But if the toys are boxed up and put away in between different experiences, they might never put toy A and toy B together, draining them of potential creativity.

The noise equals creative opportunity. Get some more noise!

1. Go to your nearest finance department, either in the company you're working for or a relative's company, whatever.

2. Find a specific task that they're using Excel to accomplish.

3. Make a web app that reduces their clicks and typing into Excel.

4. Charge whatever you want-- they will pay.

> I would like to work on a side project that eventually would lead to some revenues this summer. My question is, how did you find problem(s) to solve ?

Maybe you should work on a project that has no chance to produce revenue but is fun or interesting. Then when the idea comes for something that is profitable, run with it.

You could try to sit down and come up with an idea but I bet most of them will feel forced. You could spark a blunt and come up with tons ideas only to find out later that the dots don't connect.

I think most, if not all, ideas are derivatives of experiences. So just build something and once the right thing comes along I think you'll notice.

Open a fried chicken shop. Like Texas Fried Chicken.

Ok not literally. But the analogy is suitable. I'm suggesting you try learning about an established business model, on a small scale, so that you learn some things about business in general. How to do accounts, pay your VAT and tax, buy supplies, advertise, ship, and so on.

So something like a webshop that sells your favourite widget might be suitable since you're a software guy. You can easily look at how the pages are set up, how payments are hooked in, how to do a landing page, and so on. The advertising side is a deep dive as well, but well supported by your background in coding.

In my view, some possible sources of ideas are sports and hobbies. People will often spend money on something that might improve their enjoyment of those activities. You're tapping into a different budget than the usual business clients, and if it's a non-tech hobby, it's not already flooded with people who can develop and execute solutions.

I hit on a solution to a problem while engaged on web forums related to my hobby. Now I sell a little gadget on the side. The people on the forum, with whom I was already on good terms, provided my initial sales and word-of-mouth.

I suppose that finding problems is not difficult. The most difficult is to find an audience that has the same problem and sell your product. As Lead Startup Methodology tells us that we need to check our hypotheses after that create a solution. A lot of startups die because founders don't catch an audience.

And if you create a solution, it doesn't mean that you will get revenues so fast. The best choice is to find a remote/local job at startups. If you're in London, I think it's not a big deal.

Or just having some projects on side. You will earn more incomes than you can do with a startup.

I use for searching projects Periodix [1] and Facebook groups. There are a lot of projects of startups. ALso, I saw the website that oriented on Positive Impact Projects Jobs [2]

1 - https://periodix.net/ 2 - https://positiveimpacttechjobs.com/ 3 - List of Remote Jobs in Different Companies https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1Sr0vy3eDn2fcEhxOdkPv...

Here are two ideas for desktop apps that I think would be worthwhile:

1) A data copy app. I often need to copy data from one place to another (eg. copy data from MS Access to a MySQL server, export data from PostgreSQL to CSV, fetch data from some REST API and insert it into PostgreSQL). There tools for some of those jobs (eg. CSV import / export from PostgreSQL is solved). But there are a lot of jobs where I end up needing to write a custom Python script just to batch import some data from somewhere. It would be lovely if I just had a GUI app that was built for moving data from A to B.

2) A simple reporting tool for PostgreSQL. Often I just want to create a quick report from some data in a database (eg. how many users have already updated to the latest version?), but I don't want to start learning something like Tableau. I wish there was something more lightweight and affordable for creating just an occasional graph or summary table.

Both of these could start out very simple (do just one little thing) and expand from there, so I think they would be suitable for a side project.

I also think those two ideas have a lot of potential to make money. It's a huge market, and there's plenty of money to be made if you focus on smaller customers or niches that are not interesing for the big players.

2 is good.

I've often wishes Datagrip, Postico, Navicat, etc could draw charts / graphs. Just a handful of them would be plenty. Instead I end up exporting the data and using Google sheets.

Combining the regular DB client with some lite BI style visualization is the key, I think.

For 1, are you suggesting something like a GUI for a list of data transformation recipes? I.e. specify an input format and an output format and press play? How would these recipes be created?

Yes, that's kind of what I have in mind.

I'm not sure how the GUI for creating recipes would work. It would probably need to be pretty complex.

I have an idea in my mind where you arange premade blocks on a canvas and connect them with pipes (a patch based UI like Quartz Composer), but I doubt that this would really be the best way to do it.

There's also tasks that are one-off (eg. migrate data from one system to another) and things that need to happen regularly or even continuously.

Have you seen https://easymorph.com/? The author is here on HN (dgudkov).

Just saw this on Product Hunt. https://www.actiondesk.io

Do you really expect IT / tech people to pay?

Yes, of course. I sell a product to a very similar audience, and many people are absolutely happy to pay for a tool that saves them time.

2) how about metabase?

I've tried Metabase, but the desktop app feels very heavyweight -- it's not something for "casual" users. It also seems more targeted at workgroups, not so much for individuals.

If you ever find yourself thinking "If only there were a product that solves my problem XYZ? I'd pay money for that!", then you already know what to build.

If you haven't had such thoughts yet, I'm sure others around you could make suggestions. You'll make even more money by building for a niche market that has been overlooked or underserved by technology companies. The more specific the market, the better, as these tend to be quite sticky.

People dont pay money because they want to. But because they need to. So make sure its something you are already paying for. Then make something better or cheaper. Unless you want to give it away for free. But its probably better to ask your non technical friends what they pay for.

the genius of consumerism was to turn latent wants into newfound needs.

Don't forget to do some research to see if it already exists, often it does.

The fact that something already exists doesn't exclude the possibility of making money off of that idea. In fact, it actually validates the thought that the idea is viable.

In fact, it actually validates the thought that the idea is viable.

Not sure you can go that far. The first part of your statement sounds reasonable though.

If it does not exist, most probably there's no market for it.

There are no original ideas left? That's depressing.

Your advise is good but often leads to products without real problems.

You don’t have to find a novel problem. Find a product that already exists and out-do them. If you can criticize a product, you can make a better version of it and create value for your customers.

Finding a novel problem also works but less often than going after an existing known problem with some unoptimized solutions out there.

unless you're a big wierdo who has problems that few others have. If it's too niche, it won't be able to spread by word of mouth, and it'll be hard to find others with the same problem.

> I have read books and blogs suggesting that the best problem is the one that I have faced before.

I agree with this advice, but my problem is that most problems I have faced are software development problems. I have tons of great ideas for software development tools that would be super cool. However, there is no market for selling software development tools, because everyone is used to getting them for free from open source projects subsidized by large companies.

Nobody wants to pay for software development tools. Even worse, software development tools tend to be local programs instead of cloud software, and licensing/DRM for local programs is a nightmare for everybody involved. Either you just accept that the majority of people will pirate your software, or you go crazy implementing invasive DRM schemes that hurt your paying customers and still don't work.

I think this is actually a big problem in our industry. Our tools suck because there is no strong profit motive to produce improved tools. We have to muddle through with whatever big companies see fit to subsidize in their open source programs.

> Our tools suck because...

Oh, quite the opposite I'd say. Because we are software developers, and we can fix our problems with software, we accumulated quite a rich toolbox to solve our problems better. We're quick to dismiss our ecosystem (everything sucks/is broken), I tend to enjoy such conversations as well, and sure, there are plenty of broken/unfinished things out there, but in all honesty: what other subculture has accomplished such complex projects as the Linux kernel or the GNU toolchain, and gave it away for free? Because a lot of people know that we all are better off sharing our tools, and copying is essentially free? Isn't the brokenness often there just because we went too far, too fast?

I think looking somewhere else for a side project is a good idea, exactly because our own problem space is saturated with good (enough) tools, and deeply explored. And even if something is missing, someone's itch is bad enough so they just scratch it themselves and make it open source. But oh boy, other domain's tools and workflows suck. And often, they don't have the skills to fix this themselves, so that's where we can be helpful with software.

> Linux kernel

Wouldn't it actually be a good example of "whatever big companies see fit to subsidize in their open source programs"?

True, at least for modern kernel development. But I'm also not really arguing against that, I'm arguing against the notion that this model of development (open source combined with corporate sponsorship) is responsible for a lack of resources which causes our tools to suck. Or even that our tools suck in the first place, taking into account the complexity and non-linearity of the systems we build. Our tools work really well, considering, and it might even be the reason why software eats the world right now.

Many companies are happy to pay for IntelliJ, Docker, and GitHub. I think it depends on which tools you choose to build.

GitHub is a good example of a software development tool that is a cloud service instead of a local program, and thus has an easy and effective monetization strategy. Still, though, the vast majority use it for free.

IntelliJ and Docker give most of their products away for free. Why? Probably mostly because there is no good solution to licensing local software. They rely on the patronage of a relative few corporations, who have legal departments that will enforce the licensing rules on their behalf to avoid legal risk. Unfortunately that means that their business is an enterprise licensing business which is difficult to break into. Success in enterprise licensing is less about product quality and more about sales. That's not the kind of business I'd like to be in.

IntelliJ is a JetBrains product - I'd be interested in what their revenue breakdown is between "corporate" and "individual" licenses, but I suspect that there are more individuals paying for it than you'd think.

I know I have an active subscription still for PyCharm, even though I've not used it personally since moving to vim full-time a couple of years ago. It's a great product, and I find it extremely useful when teaching people new to Python - the autocomplete is excellent, and there are visualization tools that I've not found a good replacement for.

JetBrains pricing is actually a great case study in price segmentation for enterprise software.

First, they charge different prices for an "individual" licenses vs. an "organizational" licenses. Why? Because businesses have larger checkbooks.

PyCharm: there's a free Community version and a paid Professional version. Python is the most common beginner teaching language, so give the basic stuff away for free. Once you get into "pro" stuff -- sci stuff, web dev, DB stuff -- that's when there's a budget and so people are willing to pay.

WebStorm: Javascript is a mess of an ecosystem and there's tons of free tools out there so no point in JetBrains giving away a free version. However, once you value your productivity and want something that Just Works out of the box with reasonable defaults, that's when a webstorm license becomes something you pay for. Besides, every startup does some form of web dev these days, so larger market.

IntelliJ: Java used to be the go-to language for learning object-oriented coding, so like python, offer a free community edition. Once you dive into Spring stuff, well, you're going there because you have a boss and the boss has budget.

Is there a market to sell these to funded startups or do most of them cut corners here too?

I'm sure there's an argument where, on a personal level, releasing software open source can lead to financial gain by opening up opportunities to new jobs, fame, etc. It's good resume material, especially if the scope is smaller.

For an extreme case, it worked for Linus

There's also the infamous Brew developer and Google's interview for a counterexample. But that's more of a devil's advocate thing.

I think your point still stands, but instead of Linus I'd use the more relevant Mike Perham and his Sidekiq tool: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12925449

Our tools suck because there is no strong profit motive to produce improved tools.

Is it? From my experienced with tools from other industries where there is no subsidization of FOSS alternatives, I wouldn't say they suck any less, would you?

I don't think that's true. I am very willing to pay for small tools. Just make sure buying and deploying is easy and quick. Spending double digit amounts on a tool is a total no-brainer in my company.

One approach is to find something badly done and do it well. My first successful startup was an app that had 20k downloads, with a Facebook community of 200k members, all very active. The creator of the app wasn't focused on making it a startup; they just showcased a minimum effort HTML5 app. I created a nice proper app, and did some e-commerce around the theme (healthy food).

A second approach is to travel. You'd be surprised how different things are in other countries. I got the idea of selling coffee from Australia, where great coffee is common and Starbucks was "tourist level". Australia also has a lot of mental health apps, which I'm working on now.

My first app was also heavily localised for non-urban Malaysians. There are plenty of keto recipe alternatives for Western food e.g. bacon and eggs. But Malaysia it's a lot harder because the culture is heavily rice based, so a keto recipe app is much more valuable.

So, you can also do subsets of a problem. Like Facebook and Harvard, Amazon and books, Apple and MP3 players.

Dont try to actually invent anything. Go B2B, find opportunities to automate/innovate an existing process/service, sell it as a monthly service (recurrent revenue is key), keep your costs ultra low (your time and infra). If one company buys it, two or more will.

I wrote a short article on how I find ideas: https://tinytracker.co/blog/how-to-find-profitable-business-... Hope this helps :)

copy already successful idea so that you don't have to look for product-market fit. Improve it in some dimension i.e. better customer care, lower price, additional feature etc.

If you already have money there are other strategies that you can use to generate extra revenue.

I think no one can tell you what to do if you want to make a profitable enterprise from it. My hypothesis is you can earn from any thing if you are willing to put enough effort.

The way to not stop working on idea is to choose something you really care about and what can motivate you to pursue your goal even if you can't see any returns from it.

For me it was a pain to learn English and to remember all new fancy words I met reading books. As I'm a software engineer my software standards are quite hight and it was hard to find what I want, so I had decided to build my own solution (https://vocab10k.com). Also, you can pick any stack you want :)

I've found that the best problems to solve are the ones you're most interested in. What do you wish existed? What do you wish were better? Don't worry about making money at first. Just find something that you're passionate about creating.

Although I do think there are problems with no solution yet, I agree they are hard to find. I do think though that there are many problems with incomplete solutions. So even if it looks like there are others solving the problem don't be afraid to create your own solution which might be better.

We have started Make My Day https://www.makemydayapp.com as an app for scheduling tasks and drives and found ourselves in the Electric Vehicle market giving a different approach to a solution that was already excited - we believe we give a much holistic solution.

My best idea to help came from when I was working at a Auto Body shop and I was able to help them optimize their books. They used to dread doing a simple export from Excel into a Tax software system (I forget which one) but I converted it to some weird proprietary format and they could import it.

It's not what I'd (personally) start a startup on, but the idea is there. I was also super green and coding in VB so I'm glad I let that miss. If you can get in with a small business owner and see where they're spending repeated human cycles for data entry, you can potentially have an idea.

The problem with this is scaling - I've done similar things, but never invested the time necessary to wrap it in a nice UI and monetize it. The degree of customization necessary for each customer usually ends up being pretty high.

My project that comes to mind is when I helped a NAPA parts store retrofit a new cash register into their inventory system. Their inventory system was running on AS/400, and their old register that failed was a beast that let them enter a part number for each item, then communicated with the AS/400 over a proprietary protocol to get the price. When the transaction was completed it decremented the stock. It took me about sixty hours to reverse engineer the protocol from the failed register, then another forty or so to write a Python web service that communicated with it and exposed an API and ran their dot-matrix receipt printer. I farmed out creating a web UI to someone on Upwork and left them with a documented solution that let them use off-the-shelf hardware to talk to a small server that then spoke AS/400. I've since replaced the server with a Raspberry Pi, but otherwise it's been in place since 2003. The front-end was originally a touch-screen Windows CE client I snagged at a freight auction, and the last time I stopped by (a couple of years ago) they'd replaced that with an Android tablet on a pedestal and another tablet that they could carry around.

That sort of thing obviously has value to a lot of businesses, but each one is going to have a unique setup. There probably aren't a lot of parts houses out there that bought that particular vendor's inventory system in the 80s/90s, haven't upgraded, want to keep using the same backend, and are willing to upgrade their registers to something modern. I'd go so far as to say it's probably a unique situation.

Let me tell you what usually doesn't work unless you have excellent non-tech skills: having an awesome idea and coding it to perfection and launching it. I tried this many times and failed because I didn't polish it with the right marketing and didn't interview potential clients and all these things developers don't do.

In other words you need a co-founder and this is the trickiest part of all. Where and how to find him/her how to motivate when they usually have high paying jobs etc

You could make a simple but useful app and bundle ads with it to gain profit from that and have an in-app purchase to remove ads for even more profit. Like for example: You could make a calculator that appeals to people taking geometry like a Pythagorean Theorem calculator that shows the answer and work. Your best bet is to pick something easy that appeals to a group of people.

Think about which experiences in your life (or other people's lives) have key pain points that we wish didn't exist. Then think hard about ways to overcome those.

Alternatively, think about trade-offs that you or people in general feel forced to make, and try to build something that offers a compromise, a third alternative that previously didn't exist. That's innovation.

Chart library for JavaScript that is:

- Well documented

- Dev friendly

- High performant

- Framework-agnostic

- Written in modern JavaScript and well architected so it can be tree-shaked and prevent a huge bundle size

- TypeScript support

- Well priced

- Open source

The only decent one that I could find is https://github.com/amcharts/amcharts4 but is lacking from good tree-shaking support and performance

Highcharts too? I checked if they had tree shaking, but apparently not https://github.com/highcharts/highcharts/issues/8667

Talk to your parents and their friends about their work, especially if they run small businesses, and what they wish they could do on their phones/tablets, or were easier to do in Excel. If nothing else, it will improve your customer-facing and requirements-gathering skills while broadening your understanding of non-startup businesses.

May not be exactly what you're looking for, but I find being exposed to abstract ideas quite helpful. An easy way to bring this sort of novelty into your life could be to watch a ~10 minute Ted Talk daily.

Ideally, you would then become more responsive to problems and have a wider solution set that perhaps doesn't just involve software.

What is the name of the book/project that someone made to show one how to create a profitable side business without hiring anyone, AND who published their monthly income and list of projects? The guy who mentioned hiring a server guy every now and then.

The beginning of the book was free to read and garbled the letters as you moved along.

Ah I remember now, it is the guy (Pieter Levels) who built Nomad List which started from a spreadsheet and probably more well known by the HN community, https://remoteok.io/ (and https://remoteok.io/open).

His recommendation is to build like 20 apps, not just one. And to do it all yourself, with little extra help.

The book is https://makebook.io. Sales data here https://makebook.io/open.

More links:




You try it. Make sure that its failure won't ruin you. Then keep tweaking and trying.

Don't listen to any other advice :)

Truth. The key metric here is "what does failure cost"? If it is low, then it is an easier decision to make!

Most of the time failure nets a great learning experience regardless of other outcomes.

Find something that you know is profitable and do a better job at it. Ignore any intuition that says that you could never compete with an existing service and that it would be better to come up with an original idea; not only are original ideas very hard to come by, but most ideas are also just bad.

Projects evolve. It's pretty hard to just come up with a world changing idea and it just works.

Typically you start with something small (or even silly), then it may evolve into something else (potentially big). Prepare to work on it for many months (oftentimes many years) without seeing any traction.

Do the world a huge service and build a competitor to upwork.com that does the same thing for modest fees.

Find a market where the leading product could be/should be better. If you can do it (pulling a Shia LaBeouf)...just do it! Most of the ideas I've had were already developed by others so you better get used to it and not wait until you find a "virgin" niche.

What were some of the inefficiencies / pain points at your last startup? Try to focus on a product that could improve some of the road blocks (either technical or processes) that you encountered while working at your last gig.

See also this thread from 4 months ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18047553

You might want to consider applying for Pioneer—you can get a grant for your project: https://pioneer.app/

If you want profitable you need two things:

- Strong margins - Big market

Only then will you be able to afford to get your offering in front of the customers who might buy it.

Remember that ideas are abundant, solid user experiences and then lastly execution is the key.

I am also on the same boat. Based on my learnings and experience from running failed startups, here's a system I am experimenting.

Step 1: Observation

There are oppurtunities around you; some people are good at finding them and exploiting it to build profitable ventures.

The intended outcome is to find a problem people are struggling with and help them solve it.

Here's how I find problems.

1. Most Voted "Ask HN" Queries: I have already noted your question as a story idea for my medium blog. Since this is something, people need help in figuring out.

2. Comments Most Voted HN Posts : Not all posts have comments where people talk about their problem, but some post has insightful data.

3. Comments on Top-Listed Products on Product Hunt : Find out the top listed products on product hunt. Go to the comment section and check out for the 'cons'.

4. Conversations : Go out and talk to people who have a different perception of the world. Try putting yourself into their shoes. Then try to if you can bring a solution to their problems with the knowledge you have.

5. App Store Reviews / Amazon Reviews: These reviews contain problems with current product users have.

Step 2. Study

Now that you have got the puzzle, you need to find a cheap and efficient way to solve it.

I mostly try to see how people in a different field solve this problem. Later, try to see if their solution can fit into the issue I selected.

I also find solutions in books, research papers, hackathon projects, etc.

For now, you only need to find a theoretical way to solve the problem.

Step 3: Shadow Testing & Writing

Make a landing page about your ideal solution. Make sure you include good graphics such that your product looks ready.

The landing page also won't be enough to attract people. Write about your learnings on Medium or your blog. At the end of your blog add a signup link to your landing page.

If you are new to copywriting, please read the book "How to Write A Good Advertisement" by Victor O. Schwab.

If people can relate to the problem, you would be receiving signups. Ask them to join a slack or a telegram or a WhatsApp group.

Step 3. Validating with the Early Adopters

These people are a boon. They have extended me so much help in my earlier startup. They do this because they would like to see their problem solved.

Start having a conversation with them, build prototypes. Incorporate their feedbacks. Make sure what they are willing to pay exceeds the production cost so that you can make profits.

I hope this helps.

ahhhhh. I need to learn how to code in python first. All these ideas i have in my head need an outlet.

some guy made a lot of money with poofychairs.com

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