How to Choose Your Startup Idea

Editor’s note: This is a guest post on TechCrunch by Greg McAdoo. Greg’s interests include collaborative consumption, the cloud infrastruture and the post-PC era. He currently works with companies like Airbnb, Bump, Songkick and Y Combinator

Tomorrow hundreds will meet up for Startup School, YC’s annual event for gutsy hackers thinking about founding a company. It’s one of my favorite events, and this year’s attendees will get to hear from everyone from Mark Zuckerberg to Stripe’s Patrick Collison to Weebly’s David Rusenko. It’s oversubscribed again, so here are some thoughts on how to choose an idea for your startup for those who can’t make it.

Investors always tell you to pursue big ideas, find your passion and iterate rapidly.That’s valuable advice, but there are some other important considerations that you don’t hear very often: tackle a small market, look for bizarre behavior, don’t make waves, and be unwilling to do anything else. Paul Graham also has some helpful suggestions here and here.

Three pieces of advice that Dropbox’s Drew Houston gives young entrepreneurs (Sequoia Capital became Drew and Arash’s first business partner in 2007):

1) Everything starts small

2) Get out of your comfort zone

3) Stack the odds in your favor 

"Starting a company requires you to become oddly unemotional. That means dumping fear of failure, dumping fear of judgement, dumping the desire to impress anyone." Max Levchin, Paypal Co-founder (Sequoia Capital got into business with Max in ‘99 at PayPal)

"Sequoia Capital’s 40 years of experience shows us that today is a spectacular time to start a company." Jim Goetz at Y Combinator’s 7th Annual Start-up School