Startup idea viability

January 11, 2017


When confronted with any startup idea, ask yourself one simple question: How many miracles have to happen for this to succeed?

If the answer is zero, you’re not looking at a startup, you’re just dealing with a regular business like a laundry or a trucking business. All you need is capital and minimal execution, and assuming a two-way market, you’ll make some profit.

Most successful startups depend on one miracle only. For Airbnb, it was getting people to let strangers into their spare bedrooms and weekend cottages. This was a user-behavior miracle. For Google, it was creating an exponentially better search service than anything that had existed to date. This was a technical miracle. For Uber or Instacart, it was getting people to book and pay for real-world services via websites or phones. This was a consumer-workflow miracle. For Slack, it was getting people to work like they formerly chatted with their girlfriends. This is a business-workflow miracle.

Antonio Garcia Martinez in Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley

How do I know if the idea I have is a business idea, or a startup idea? Is it a viable startup idea? Who would have thought that “miracles” are a good metric for this? Bizarre but totally apt in this realm of Unicorns, Centaurs, Pegasus and Dinosaurs, fortune hunters and Silicon Valley pirates.

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