springwise.pngA common problem for developers who want to create a startup is deciding what to build. If you have not been struck by the Middle Finger of God and blessed (or cursed) with an itchy obsession to build a particular solution to a specific problem, you can easily fall into the “everything is already done” trap, and languish there.
Don’t make that mistake.

  • Yes, there’s a thousand times more apps today, running on dozens of platforms, than in the bad old days of the Wintel duopoly – but that just means there’s tens of thousands more intersections between what software does and what people want. Bootstrapping startups win when they build on the sharp edges of things, not when they sweat blood to create an app that is unorginal, unremarkable, and unsellable.
  • Get out of your box. The box of who you are, how you came to be here, what you think the world is. One book I’ve recommended for decades to friends looking for a new career is What Color Is Your Parachute? 2011: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. It’s been updated more times than I can count, and it’s a great way to get a comprehensive sense of what people out there do for a living – and what tools they may need.
  • Get way out of the box. One of the coolest characteristics of the web is how new ideas get distributed. Check out http://www.springwise.com/ and http://changethis.com/ for new ideas and fresh perspectives.

Bottom line: buying into the assumption everything has been already done or you can only aspire as high as the current trendy knockoff copycat idea, is deadly poison for startups. Don’t drink that kool-aid.


  1. Are there really people like this? Because here in NYC, all I seem to meet are people with ideas for businesses who are having trouble finding the right development talent. Including myself. It’s a simple enough thing to find one of those people; just go to Meetup.com and show up to any event with the word “Entrepreneur” or “Startup” in the title. You’ll be able to meet dozens of people with strong business ideas and deep domain experience in one industry or another.

  2. I had a random idea the other day and I’m wondering if anyone has done this – it’s kind of a big experiment: take a few months and build a bunch of apps. All different kinds of apps – download apps, web sites, mobile, games, productivity, etc. But make them all quick ‘n dirty 2-day, 1-week projects, and release them all. And then see what happens – it would be interesting to see what the response is. I’d bet some would turn out to be more popular than others, and it might be surprising which ones are hits.

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