Start to Work on Something
The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself — Paul Graham
A good idea always starts with a problem, especially the one you have. That way, you can develop something to solve it, while being an actual user. But nowadays, most common problems are solved. We don’t often face new problems anymore.
There is another way to find problems is to start working on something. Because often, you will start to see problems that only a few people have worked on, or there isn’t a satisfied solution yet. And there can be good product ideas.
Find problems by starting to work on something
In 2018, I rent a 3 bedrooms apartment not far away from Sydney city. One small bedroom is for me, and I rent out other spaces.
But there was one problem, some tenants don’t pay on time and don’t keep the payment logs. We had a few issues with late payments, needed to go through the payment log, again and again, to figure things out.
I started to look for an app to manage rental payments, but not seeing anything interesting. Then I decided to build the app myself, with React Native. Since it supports cross-platform, and I was comfortable using it.
Though, I realized React Native didn’t have many database options. AsyncStorage was slow, RealmDB was buggy for debugging, firebase wasn’t so offline support.
So I started working on Vasern, a database for React Native.
Validate the idea with the audience
Even though it was an actual problem I have, it’s always a good idea to test with the audience — the developer community.
When the MVP ready, I posted it in a few places. But most of the attention arise from Reddit, and 2 Slack channels.
Then, people started to talk about Vasern in a few Facebook groups. And it got noticed by a few medium-size tech news/blogs. I remember the first 3 websites wrote about it were Jaxeter, programmer, and Entwickler. Which sent a bit of traffic to the landing page.
News and blog websites often get their source ideas from other websites. Which lead Vasern to start spreading out to other medium-size tech news website too. It was a great experience.
Fast forward to today, there are apps in production use Vasern as a local database. One I closed with was Litely. And the database still gets mentions on news, blog articles, or in some presentations once in a while.
To sum up, a good idea started with a problem. When you don’t have a good problem but time, start to work on anything. You will find new problems, and one of those can be a good idea.
To me, Vasern was that good idea. It solved a problem I have while working on a mobile app. I validated that idea, got the attention and it spread out.
Next time, when running out of ideas, try to work on something