Let me start off by saying there is no right way to start a startup. Also, you shouldn’t blindly follow another startup’s path to success for it’s impossible and everyone’s journey will be unique in their own way.
Every successful startup solves a problem that whose solution adds value to people’s lives. Here are some ways successful startups have come up with solutions to problems in our lives.
Scratch your own itch
In 2013 Ryan Hoover had a genuine interest in finding out about all the cool startups and products that were out on the market. To satisfy his need, he founded a small website called Product Hunt where companies, mostly from the Bay Area, would promote their products. Little did Ryan know, other people were also interested in finding out about up-and-coming startups and soon Product Hunt garnered a lot of traffic from the Bay Area. Fast forward a handful of years, Product Hunt is now the premier place to promote and post about your product or service. In recent years, the traffic from the Bay Area now makes up less than 1.5% of all traffic due to the boom in worldwide popularity. When Ryan started Product Hunt, he did not imagine he would be selling his business for millions of dollars – he was scratching his own itch.
For more information on how Product Hunt came to be listen to Episode “How Product Hunt’s Ryan Hoover Built a $20M Community From Scratch” of Shaan Puri & Ishan Haque podcast “My First Million“.
Create your market
Markets can be created through fear or fear of missing out. On example of such is Brooklinen, a bed sheets startup self dubbed “The Internet’s Favorite Sheets”. For a time on the New York subways, this startup posted ads that implied the average New Yorker’s bedsheets are covered in millions of bacteria since they rarely change them and that our bedsheets are low quality fabrics. As I read this ad, I thought to myself, “Man, do I sleep in a pile of bacteria every night? When’s the last time I bought new bed sheets? When’s the last time I washed my bed sheets?”. Ads like this make you think – maybe think just enough to make a purchase with a strategically place discount coupon upon landing on their website.
Yes, their product may be amazing, however, there are other bed sheets out there with the same or better quality. The only difference here is the clean website, modern looking product, and very well targeted marketing messages. If you never saw that ad then those thoughts would probably not cross your mind.
Solve an old problem in a revolutionary way
Fortunate for us, old problems are still being solved in revolutionary ways due to advances in technology. An age old problem that has been solved countless times is how to get a person from point A to point B. The human race has engineered cars, trains, planes, cruise ships with amusement parks on them, etc. With so many modes of transportation this problem seems beat to a pulp.
Enter Uber, Lyft, and Turo! All of these services have all solved this problem in ways that have never been solved before and are now reaping the benefits tenfold. Instead of hailing down a taxi in the rain on Broadway, I can lay in bed and command an Uber or Lyft driver to meet me outside whenever I want. Yes, I’m still getting from point A to point B, however, it feels like I’m getting personally catered as if I’m royalty. In fact, we have become so spoiled that if an Uber/Lyft driver takes a minute too long to arrive, we millennials become slightly agitated. Can you even fathom a world without a service like Uber/Lyft?