Training the Startup Brain to Spot Ideas

October 27, 2014

in Ideas, Starting Up

I get frustrated when I see a startup opportunity blow up that I should have detected. Sometimes the frustration comes from missing out. Sometimes the frustration comes from my failure to detect it. I want to continually improve my startup brain to spot great ideas.

Here are two examples where I am kicking myself:

  1. Bitcoin (missing out) – back when bitcoin came out GPUs were the primary way to mine and generate bitcoin. At ArrayFire, we had tons of GPUs and the right expertise to start mining the coins. Yet we did not because we wanted to stay focused on our own startup. There are people around Atlanta that mined those coins with fewer resources and now hold millions in bitcoin value. I wish we would have spent a little time to mine bitcoin. It would not have been overly distracting. Opportunity missed.
  2. Recurly (failture to detect) – I ran across yesterday. It is a service that helps manage payments to other subscription services. Personally this year my business credit card number has changed multiple times. That is super annoying. I now have to maintain a list of dozens of recurring sites where my card is used to keep our business operating. I estimate I have spent 1 man-day this year just hassling with changing credit card info on these sites. Yet I never thought to myself, “This is painful. There should be a better way.” The people at Recurly recognized that pain and are chasing it. The reason I am kicking myself on this one is because I had a pain and I did not take the step to think, “If I were to try to relieve this pain, how would I do so?” Even though I would not have started a company to solve this problem, I failed to detect it.

I want to keep training my brain to recognize pains in life and force myself to pause and think how that pain will be eliminated in the future.

On this topic, the “must-read” is Paul Graham’s essay on startup ideas.

What do you do to train your startup brain?


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