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Let's make a list of niche community sites to find customers/startup ideas.
14 points by anujkk 1352 days ago | hide | past | web | 4 comments | favorite
One way to find a good startup idea is to interact with potential customers of different industries/niche, understand the problems they face in their day-to-day tasks, and look how technology can provide a solution in a feasible and profitable way.

While, one can try and meet people in real, it is often not possible for everyone. In such cases, it would be really nice if we had a list of online forums, communities, QA sites for niche/industries where we can interact with potential customers. There many such sites for technology and business (Like HN) but not many for other niches(or I don't know about them if they exist).

Why not make a list/directory of such websites? Submit such websites you know about. I will start with these :

- http://www.t-shirtforums.com/

- http://beta.threadless.com/play/forum/

- http://recordingquestions.com/

- http://www.bodybuilding.com/

- http://lawyrs.net/

- http://www.lawlink.com/

- http://news.knotist.com/

- http://www.meetpips.com/

- http://www.freshpips.com/

- http://ozmosis.com/

- http://www.parentsconnect.com/

- http://www.minti.com/

- http://www.myshutterspace.com/

- http://activerain.com/

- http://www.fohboh.com/

- http://doc2doc.bmj.com/

- http://www.doctorshangout.com/forum

- http://www.accountantforums.com/

- http://forums.foodservice.com/

- http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/

- http://www.restaurant-community.com/

Some general purpose websites where one can find potential customers :

- Quora

- Reddit/Sub-Reddits

- Facebook Groups




While I applaud the work OP put into this, it makes no sense to me. Why?

The first thing is that why do this instead of using Google to find out the most popular niche sites? If I type in "restaurant forum" in Google, surely the first 4-5 pages will contain useful information, no?

Secondly, people have to remember that this list exists when they are thinking of ideas. First thought in anyone's mind is to Google "restaurant forum". You aren't going to overcome that line of thinking in this community - you just aren't. The only hope you have is to augment it by providing information that Google doesn't offer. What's the chance of that?

Third - let's assume that you get a lot of interest on this thread and people submit 500+ links. Awesome :) Who will take it upon themselves to categorize these and present them in a helpful way? Surely you wouldn't expect anyone to visit a page with 500+ links on it and search one by one through the links to see if one meets his/her needs, would you? If you did a page search for "restaurant" on this page, a site like http://www.fohboh.com/ would not show up b/c it doesn't have a descriptive URL or tagline next to it. So someone has to take this list and make it usable. Who will do that?

Fourth - who will curate this list to ensure that only the "right" sites are added (rather than someone submitting their own site for SEO purposes)? It would have to be a mod b/c OP cannot edit others' submissions. Can you get a mod to agree?

Lastly, who will curate this list over time by adding, removing, and editing it? New sites are always on the horizon and thus will need to be added over time. Current sites will die or fade in popularity. Someone will have to be on top of it. HN doesn't have "sticky threads". Even if it gets voted to the front page, it will eventually/soon fade to the 2nd, 3rd, etc. Only a certain number of stories are maintained in perpetuity (at least in the "More" button). How will you ensure that it stays alive?

Sorry - the "actual benefits received" vs. "how much work will be required" just makes it untenable to me.


You raised some very valid questions. Let me address them one by one.

Why do this instead of using Google to find out the most popular niche sites?

- because not all good sites can be discovered using Google. For example, there may be a Facebook group for a niche that is far more active than a dedicated forum site. There may be some good niche sites that are not ranked high enough. The idea is to let people submit good sites they know about.

- to make all such sites available at one place for quick access, not only for me but anyone else who is interested.

people have to remember that this list exists when they are thinking of ideas

- It is not just about discovering startup ideas. It is about interacting with people outside hacker community through these sites. You may know about problems they face and it can result in some good ideas but it will also be helpful in marketing some existing products for that niche.

- One thing I would like to make clear is that if enough links are provided I will make a website/google doc for this where anyone can submit new websites. May be I will do it anyway but there is no harm in asking for more such sites from community.

Who will take it upon themselves to categorize these and present them in a helpful way? Who will curate this list to ensure that only the "right" sites are added?

I will do that on a dedicated site/google doc. I don't think it is a very time intensive task. HackerNews isn't a good place to keep and maintain such information but people here can definitely help by submitting the sites they know about.

who will curate this list over time by adding, removing, and editing it?

If I make a small web app for this(it will take just few hours) anyone can submit sites and people who are interested in maintaining it can be made moderator. In any case some effort is definitely required and if people find it valuable it is worth the effort.

I guess you raised all these questions because you thought I am proposing that this list should be created and maintained on HN itself. That is simply not most effective way to do that. May be I didn't made it clear but the objective of this post was to just collect such links not make a wiki on HN.


Some good counters but I'd counter back with:

...there may be a Facebook group for a niche that is far more active than a dedicated forum site.

Two counters for this one:

1) Activity is not always what's most valueable. Forums offer value not just in their activity level but in their archives. It's easy to find any post mentioning the word "aerator" for example. You cannot do that easily on Facebook. Besides, Facebook is also used in a more social way than many forums. People post "funny pictures of their cat on their restaurant manual" on Facebook, for example, but they'll ask "Where should I get my restaurant manuals printed?" on a forum.

2) The obvious next question is, "So they'll also search on Facebook for niche groups. How will your list trump FB's up to date results?"

It is not just about discovering startup ideas.

I think you missed my point completely with this, or so it reads. I'm saying that, for your list to be useful, people have to remember that it exists. No one has to remember that Google or Facebook exists. If they have a problem, bam - off to Google to see if other people have written about it. But where, in the order of when someone thinks "How I will go about finding niche sites" will your list appear?

if people find it valuable it is worth the effort

But if they don't find it valuable, was it worth the effort? My bookmarks are full of cool lists that I've bookmarked and have big plans to eventually come back and use...

May be I didn't made it clear but the objective of this post was to just collect such links not make a wiki on HN.

That's a good start, of course. I don't know that I would contribute though. To a certain degree, being able to find this information on your own is sort of a barrier to entry in that market. If you aren't capable of finding quality restaurant forums, for example, then maybe you shouldn't be trying to start a business in that industry.

This is a cool idea for a project in which you are learning how to code, or learning a new language, or learning a new stack. It's just not a viable, long-term "thing" IMO for the reasons listed. Prioritization is a big part of entrepreneurship - you have to recognize what's worth doing. You say it takes "a few hours" - no way. Nothing - NOTHING - ever takes however much time you estimate in the software world haha. It will take longer. You will over-optimize in the beginning, start your project, then have to scale back and re-think. It happens to everyone :)


I think this is a good idea (I mentioned it in a comment a while back :-) ). I don't have many forums to submit, but here's one:

http://www.pprune.org/ - Professional Pilots' Rumour Network (basically a hang out for pilots and wannabe pilots)




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