Should a great project to solve one problem become a start-up?


Some time back, I set out to solve a specific problem:

  • How can I help people who haven't met yet collaborate to create great ideas ahead of weekend startup events?
I couldn't find a site out there I liked and that fitted (plenty for pure software startups, but that's not the prime use case), but when I asked people what they needed, most people first described forums... and then gave a hundred good reasons why they didn't use them. So, being a fan of Q&A communities I thought I'd build a Q&A site fast, extending an open source platform.

The site is only just on the verge of launching, but suddenly I'm getting interest out of the blue, because another site just launched in a blaze of publicity, doing a different but related job, and having consumed a few $100k.

My instinct is to ignore that, carry on and validate that the site creates value for a community, and then review whether to take it to the next level.

But here's the problem.

I spend a lot of time helping startups. And I know that if I was answering the question for someone else, I'd say something like this:

What's holding you back? Be realistic - maybe the interest will come and go as your rival's PR wave goes past. But do you want to find, six months out, that you missed the opportunity wave when it came? So at least invest some time thinking through what you would do if you moved this side project up the stack, and unless you have no free time at all, engage with the people who reach out to you!
So which is right - my own good advice, my instinct, or is there another option I should think about?

I've phrased this question to be general - and I don't think the details of the site are important. If you want to peek, go here. But even if you're tempted, I'd still rather you answered before looking!

Getting Started Ideas Website Validation

asked Oct 25 '12 at 03:15
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

1 Answer


If people have a real pain, and your product solves it, and you can generate revenue / sell it then you are all set.

Assuming there are lots of clear industry leaders in that market I wouldn't worry too much about competition. It's rare people have ideas that no one else has ever had. And you can probably find different problems within that arena to solve better.

Sounds like you are pretty far so I would keep pushing forward to see what you can learn and what problems you can solve.

answered Oct 25 '12 at 12:19
Ryan Doom
5,472 points
  • Thanks Ryan - this is helpful. My site is at MVP stage. Part of my learning is that the competitor is seriously annoyed to have anyone else in the market space. They're early stage and have a business model I don't like. One trusted associate has said that for the public good I should go ahead and compete. I'm still not quite decided... – Jeremy Parsons 11 years ago
  • Sounds like a great opportunity to compete. If they do have lots of funds and end up being very successful they will have enough money to buy you out and pay you to go away. – Ryan Doom 11 years ago

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