If a startup idea were so obviously good, it would’ve been done already. This means it's probably a bad idea to judge a startup based on your first impression. For example, Twitter looked like a stupid blogging service (140 character posts?!) when it launched. If you're interested in evaluating the potential of your idea, try answering these questions honestly in a Google Doc. It's the first thing I do whenever I come across an interesting problem.
- Describe your company in 50 characters or less.
- What is your company going to make?
- Why did you pick this idea? Do you have domain expertise in this area? How do you know people need what you're making?
- What's new about what you're making? What substitutes do people resort to because it doesn't exist yet?
- Who are your competitors, and who might become competitors? Who do you fear most?
- What do you understand about your business that other companies in it just don't get?
- How will you make money? How much could you make? Give your best estimate.
- How will you get users, and if you're a marketplace how will you overcome the chicken and egg problem?
- What is your company's purpose?
- Describe the pain of your customer — how is this addressed today and what are the shortcomings of current solutions?
- Explain your eureka moment. Why is your value prop unique and compelling? Why will it endure? And where does it go from here?
- Why now? Nature hates a vacuum — so why hasn't your solution been built before now?
- Identify your customers and your market. Some of the best companies invent their own markets.
- Competition and alternatives — who are your direct and indirect competitors. What's your plan to win?
- What is your business model, and how do you intend to thrive?
- Team — tell the story of your founders & key team members.
- Financials — how will you finance this?
- Vision — if all goes well, what will you have built in 5 years?
- Can you create breakthrough technology instead of incremental improvement?
- Is now the right time to start your particular business?
- Are you starting with a big share of a small market?
- Do you have the right team?
- Do you have a way to not just create but deliver your product?
- Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years in the future?
- Have you identified a unique opportunity that others don't see?
As always, I'd love to help if think you've discovered a problem worth solving.