Paul Graham — Idea generation

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All quotes directly from PG

  • The rather surprising conclusion is that the best way to generate startup ideas is to do what hackers do for fun: cook up amusing hacks with your friends.
  • Live in the future and build what seems interesting. At YC we're excited when we meet startups working on things that we could imagine know-it-alls on forums dismissing as toys. To us that's positive evidence an idea is good.
  • Even Einstein needed people to bounce ideas off. Ideas get developed in the process of explaining them to the right kind of person. You need that resistance, just as a carver needs the resistance of the wood.
  • One way to make something people want is to look at stuff people use now that's broken. (PG references online dating in the 90's/early 2000's)
  • I find that to have good ideas I need to be working on some problem. You can't start with randomness. You have to start with a problem, then let your mind wander just far enough for new ideas to form.
  • ...finding the problem intolerable and feeling it must be possible to solve it. Simple as it seems, that's the recipe for a lot of startup ideas.
  • Another classic way to make something people want is to take a luxury and make it into a commodity. People must want something if they pay a lot for it. And it is a very rare product that can't be made dramatically cheaper if you try.