So many unexplored business opportunities, so little time.
“Great execution is at least 10 times more important and a 100 times harder than a good idea,” Y Combinator President Sam Altman has said.
Apparently he – and the famed incubator he leads – really believes it. Recently ex-entrepreneur turned Y Combinator software developer Kyle Corbitt reached out to program alums and staff members asking them to publicly share their best startup ideas that they don’t have the bandwidth to build. He then published them on the Y Combinator blog.
The idea seems to be to give away good ideas which, as Altman notes, are relatively plentiful, in order to inspire smart entrepreneurs to buckle down on the far harder execution bit, making the world better for everybody. Here, in brief, are the ideas Corbitt rounded up along with the entrepreneurs and Y Combinator staff who shared them:
Is your beloved pooch in pain? Hungry? Thirsty? Artificial intelligence mining the internet’s immense trove of dog videos could probably tell you based on your pet’s behavior. “This might sound a little crazy but this has been done already for identifying pain in sheep,” notes Iorns.
“Individuals take care of most of their health needs in the bathroom (bms, urine, teeth, hygiene, et cetera). All this data is literally flushed down the drain. Big opportunity to install a virtual doctor’s office in everyone’s bathroom, collecting data and providing feedback to help people reduce cost on health and wellness while achieving much better outcomes,” suggests Yunits. Others have predicted similar products.
Want something a little less sci-fi? Then how about this idea from Sagalov: “It can be a huge pain to get enterprises to pay their vendors, even after contracts are signed. It’s one of those business inefficiencies that they’re not inclined to fix because there’s little downside to them paying late. Handing it off to a ‘collections agency’ seems aggressive and most startups won’t do it, but I think something like an outsourced AR service that appears to be from the company but is actually a third party could be great.”
What parent has not at one time or another fantasized about this product? “A semi-automatic baby bidet where you could sit them over the sink and clean out the yuck simply and without having to touch it.”
“There are many types of new securities and types of assets being created, not only tokens but anything else that can be bought or sold. In theory you could sell those on the blockchain currently, but you’d have to spin up and create your own blockchain in its entirety. It seems like that’s something you should be able to do as a service; I have some asset and I’d like a blockchain for it, and I’ll pay a monthly fee,” says Allred.
There are known microbes that can eat renewable resources and produce usable fuel, so why aren’t companies commercializing that practice? If Abbott has more time, that’s the problem he would be looking into. If you have a similar science background maybe you could do it for him.
“You literally cannot buy a billboard online. If people could buy them as easily as you buy an Adwords ad, maybe many more small companies would,” notes Friedman. Someone might be able to make a lot of money fixing that.
“Upload a photo of furniture of a piece of home decor, and select between ‘find’ or ‘match’ options. The ‘find’ option would bring up very similar options and let you sort by price point and delivery time, so you could find the Crate and Barrel knock off of that designer table you saw in a magazine. The ‘match’ option would recommend items that go well stylistically with that item.” I’d use that product in a heartbeat.
Rather than buy (and then store) all those infrequently used items like camping equipment and soldering irons, why not rent them from a service? “Lending libraries for this type of stuff exist but are too high-friction to be popular today,” notes Corbitt. “With automated inventory management and (potentially) sidewalk delivery bots the cost and friction can be brought low enough to turn this into a popular and defensible subscription business.”
Ever try to explain something technical to your extremely non-technical dad or grandma? Thompson thinks there is a business opportunity in alleviating the frustration factor of those conversations. “Build a service that makes technology accessible and not scary for older or non tech savvy people. We need a text/call and software based solution with really great people on the other end who don’t judge, but explain concepts simply – someone who will help and doesn’t make anyone feel dumb,” he suggests.
Buying fine art is scary and baffling for newbies so fewer people than those who could afford it and are interested actually do. A smart startup could get these potential buyers off the sidelines with a “money back guarantee for art buyers… offer insurance that galleries can offer to buy art back from the purchaser if the purchaser is unsatisfied. Lowered risk for buyers => Increased spend, and you take some of that increased revenue,” claims Kan.
“This is a super tough nut to crack,” admits Liu. “You have to be cool and offer a safe and private environment for kids to communicate with each other while enabling trusted adults to peer in/interact, etc.” But “the company that can build something that is used and useful for all parties can build something of great value throughout a person’s entire life.”
Anyone who’s been paying attention to the news can see that, with climate change, wildfires are a growing problem. But “fire fighting and the tools we use to fight fires haven’t changed much in 100 years,” notes Alstromer. “With the arrival of autonomous drones, industrial drones, better sensors and better prediction we should be able do a better job saving our forests, cities and firefighters.”
Intrigued? The complete post offers more details on lots of these ideas. And if you’re really serious about possibly pursuing one, Corbitt urges you to “please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org – I’d love to chat about your plans, and I may be able to put you in touch with the idea’s author or other good resources.”
But act quickly, he’s already added an addendum to the post to say his inbox has been flooded with emails from interested parties.