Note: This post contains explicit language but a lot of passion.
This is probably an unpopular opinion, but when it comes to building startups, most people in the valley overcomplicate things so much.
As someone who has friends running startups, as someone who follows founders & VCs, and who is part of many founder communities, it is painstakingly visible that people ask the same questions all the time.
“How do I pick ideas?”
“How do I make sure I build the right thing?”
“Should I build this company?”
Advice is variable. It depends on time, circumstances, the industry, and the makeup of the team building it. Stop asking. Start building.
So how do you build a successful company? Wrong fucking question. The company is the outcome. You can’t build a successful company until you build a great fucking product. So you might ask, how do I make a great product?
And while we're at it, here are some harsh-sounding responses for the most-asked questions:
Q: How do I pick an idea to build?
A: Do you care about this idea or industry? If yes, pursue it. If not, stop building shit you don't care about! Sooner than later, you'll hit a wall, and if you don't care about the problem and doing it just for the money, you're going to fail hard.
Q: How do I ensure I am building the right thing?
A: No one knows. There are best practices, but they're not prophecies. Listen and talk to your users & customers, try shit, and iterate. That's how you'll get close to the "right" thing.
Q: How to find a co-founder?
A: Find someone you know who has integrity, can help you build shit, and someone you can talk through things with. How do I figure that out for someone? Build shit with others.
Q: Should I build in a bad economy?
A: Yes! Just get started. What the hell are you waiting for? You don’t need Marc Andreessen to remind you to start building.
Q: How to raise a seed/series A round?
A: Build an amazing fucking product first.
These may sound quite harsh and grossly oversimplified, but I have spent days and weeks feeling paralyzed because I thought there have to be more profound answers to them, and the truth is there isn't.
There are no real answers and the way to find out is through experiments. You try shit. You put it out there. And the chances are that you will fail 90% of the time. But there is a 10% chance you built something that creates 10x value for the users.
And that’s when the real journey begins. And admittedly, at this point, things may get a little more nuanced — how do you continue to drive value to your users, deal with competitors emerging from nowhere, hire employees, manage equity, legal, terms sheets, finances, etc.
I do realize that building a product, startup, and a company is not all trivial and straightforward. But most people don't even get to this stage because they are fretting about these questions before starting and do not get started. The difference between them and that "successful founder" they're following is that they decided to stop overthinking and started doing. They may not have gotten it right at first, but they kept iterating until it did.
So stop worrying and overthinking about what to build and when to build it. Stop overcomplicating things. In most cases, the situation won't always seem right. So, just get started and build it.