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Five Hard Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Starting Up

Learnings experimenting in startup land

Evaluating Startup Ideas

We all come up with startup ideas day-to-day but choosing the right idea requires introspection and careful thought. While I’ve enjoyed experimenting and learning from various projects, asking these five questions would have saved me time wasted on unviable ideas that I didn’t really want to pursue long-term:

1. Passion

2. Pragmatism

3. Existing User Behaviors

Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time… identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.

Rarely do successful startups drastically introduce new behaviors.

  • Before Instagram, amateur photographers snapped photos and uploading them to their computer to beautify them with Photoshop or similar photo-editing applications.
  • Joel Gascoigne wasn’t satisfied with his current solution for sharing on Twitter and other social networks so he created Buffer, a better way to share updates and links. Joel built it for himself but also the millions of others tweeting, posting to Facebook, and sharing on the web.
  • Mobile messaging app, WhatsApp, didn’t grow to 430MM active users by changing peoples’ daily behavior. Communication and desire for social connectedness is innate in all of us. The service simply made communication easier and more accessible.

4. Growth Engine

5. Monetization

  1. Am I excited to pursue this for several years?
  2. Do I have the right skill-set and team?
  3. Are people doing this already?
  4. How will I acquire users?
  5. How will I make money?



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Ryan Hoover

Founder of Product Hunt. Weekend Fund investor. Follow at @rrhoover.