How to find a startup idea: the experience of successful companies

11 October, 2022


Lenny Raczycki conducted a study of the 50 most successful B2C startups. Here's how they came up with their idea:

1. Solved their own pain (30%). The founder of Dropbox was constantly losing his flash drive. The Etsy funder was looking for a way to sell his furniture and couldn't find anything good, so he decided to do it himself. 

2. Unraveled their curiosity (20%). Usually a prototype was created "on the knees", which then grew into something bigger. This is how Google, TikTok, Tinder came about.

3. Made another product, then noticed unexpected usage scenarios and pivoted (18%). Instagram was a geo-social network at first, but filters proved more in demand. Discord was a failing game studio, but users liked their voice chat chip. 

4. Noticed a paradigm shift early on (15%). Jeff Bezos saw the internet growing at 2300% annually and left the corporation to start Amazon. Cheaper genetic screening gave rise to 23andMe. 

5. Brainstorming with friends (15%). This is how the ideas of Netflix, DoorDash, Nextdoor were born.

And even if any startup is an exception to the rule, there are a few principles that increase the likelihood of success of your idea:

— You can't stop thinking about it. The founders of Coinbase and Warby Parker described their ideas as "intrusive thoughts" that kept them from sleeping at night. 

— You immediately start building a prototype and have the skills to do so. 80% of successful consumer startups had a technical cofounder. 

— The idea is simple to understand. Every successful B2C product can be explained in one or two sentences.


Read more about how startups found the ideas of their projects in the text of Lenny Rachitsky.

Photo: San Francisco Chronicle


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