Whenever I have an idea I think:
“Could this idea be a product/company? Is this idea good enough? Would other people want it? Could I make a living from it?”
But maybe even the “great”¹ ideas we think of today didn’t seem great back then.
¹ = financially successful
I wrote down how some founders could have explained their idea to a friend:
What if you could
(Google, founded 1998)
⊕ That sounds useful (but who would have expected it to become what it is today)
What if you could buy books online? (Amazon, founded 1994)
What if you could sell your stuff online? (Ebay, founded 1995)
What if you could pay online? (Paypal, founded 1998)
⊕ Sounds useful, but it might be too early?
⊖ Why would I wanna do these things online?
What if you could rent out your flat like a hotel room? (AirBnB, founded 2008)
⊕ If my flat is insured, I would do it.
⊖ Who would rent out their flat to a stranger?
⊖ This sounds a lot like Couchsurfing, which is free … so why would I pay?
What if we had our yearbook online? (Facebook, founded 2004)
⊕ Yeah, why not?
⊖ What’s the point?
What if you had shared files? (Dropbox, founded 2007)
⊕ That sounds useful.
What if your company had a chat for teams? (Slack, released 2013)
⊖ But there is Email, IRC, Hipchat, etc.
What if you could work as a Taxi driver whenever and wherever you want? (Uber, founded 2009)
⊕ I’d love the flexibility!
⊖ Is this legal?
What if you could order from a restaurant which doesn’t have its own delivery service? (Foodora, founded 2014)
⊕ I’d love that!
What if everybody could easily make their own blog? (Tumblr, founded 2007)
⊕ Yeah, it’s a pain currently.
⊖ Why would everybody need a blog?
What if you could share a status with the world … but only 240 characters max? (Twitter, founded 2006)
⊖ Seriously, what should be the point of that? Why only 240 characters? I don’t get this at all.
Some founders might have that magical foresight, but a lot – I guess – is just luck. You can always find reasons for why something might not work out. Not everything can work out, but maybe the idea itself is not a strong indicator whether it does.