Pioneer Community Discussion: How did you come up with your project idea?
Shared by jackson · 60d ago · 50 comments

Below are three great articles we recommend when searching for an idea. There is always an initial insight and, often, an incident that inspires the work. What inspired yours? How did you come up with your idea?

- Paul Graham: http://paulgraham.com/startupideas.html
- Courtland Allen: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-to-brainstorm-great-business-ideas-ab51c3d51c
- Daniel Gross: https://dcgross.com/decide-what-to-build/

mkaic · 60d ago

I'm obsessed with making my filmmaking workflow as optimized as possible -- so I can get things done fast enough that I don't have time to lose motivation in the middle of the project.

I was spending a ton of time using greenscreen in my movies, and it was consistently frustrating and disappointing to work with. I'd seen a video of some recent AI research that could kind of do what I wanted (a greenscreen free greenscreen) but not quite, so I decided to start my own research on top of theirs.

Basically, I realized that my dream product was actually within my own reach to create, and that nobody else had created it yet.

sole-fields · 59d ago

Where did you start in your research, out of curiosity? Would love to know the path.

mkaic · 57d ago

I got inspired by a YouTube video from Two Minute Papers, actually! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTe_-YOccdM). I didn't really know anything about ML, but that was the video that inspired me to start taking Coursera courses about it. I started with Andrew Ng's famously free Machine Learning Stanford course, and then did a course on convolutional neural networks and then one on GANs.

After that, I just started trying to build this project from scratch and Googled everything I ran into that was unfamiliar. I still learn new things every time I have a serious coding session!

sole-fields · 56d ago

Love that trajectory.

Have you found a community along the way? Any others you're in school with that are doing similar projects / learning?

mkaic · 56d ago

I have some community on the filmmaking side of things from before all of this, but not really any community at all on the AI side, which is why I'm currently trying to get a job at an AI startup -- I desperately want to make friends with people who I can ramble about PyTorch and convnets to. I haven't gone to college yet, so I don't have that community at the moment either.

sole-fields · 56d ago

Awesome, good luck! Seems they'd be remiss not to accept...

McKayla-Berry · 59d ago

Awesome.

hugomontenegro · 60d ago

I've always collected ideas and (sometimes) started projects around them. However, choosing the proper domain name was a hassle. All the good ones seemed taken.

So I scratched my own itch and made namy.ai :)

https://www.namy.ai/

McKayla-Berry · 59d ago

This is cool as heck.

manojranaweera · 60d ago

Very good story.

braddwyer · 60d ago

I was kind of bored with my last startup (which I had run for ~10 years and was kind of on autopilot) so started playing with augmented reality and machine learning and built [an app called Magic Sudoku](https://twitter.com/braddwyer/status/910030265006923776) and in the process felt a lot of pain points around having to build my own tooling before I could work on the actual app itself. Asked some friends what they were using and pretty much everyone said they or their companies had built something internally as well... so figured there was an opportunity to build the tools so everyone else wouldn't have to reinvent the wheel before getting started. And thus, [Roboflow](https://roboflow.com).

manojranaweera · 60d ago

Awesome story. Well done!

Sal · 60d ago

Awesome. How big is CV as a vertical? Will you ever branch out into other ML?

braddwyer · 60d ago

It may end up being the biggest market of this decade. One of the rare technologies that is going to transform nearly every industry. Similar in impact to the PC or the Internet.

Sal · 59d ago

Who are the current competitors and will you crush them? :)

braddwyer · 59d ago

Biggest "competitors" honestly are people building things internally or deciding not to use computer vision in their projects at all.

The big cloud providers & some other startups have overlapping offerings but most of our customers aren't evaluating us head to head with any of them. No need to "crush" them; oftentimes our tools can work well together with theirs. Eg while we have our own 1-click training tool we're also the easiest way to use Amazon's, Microsoft's, and Google's: https://blog.roboflow.com/automl-vs-rekognition-vs-custom-vision/

andrew-miit.co · 56d ago

Miit was originally conceptualized as a travel app to help new travelers get 'local knowledge' about their destination. As I realized how hard it is to scale travel I started thinking of ways to connect travelers to fellow travelers and locals organically. Then I realized those same concepts could be applied to connecting people in real life every day, and discovered there was a huge need for it.

buddy · 55d ago

Awesome. how's traction beenso far?

andrew-miit.co · 55d ago

Slow. We lost our CTO so have been learning to code while building out the features our customers have told us are the most important. We've got some real velocity now though so big update release set to drop this week.

buddy · 55d ago

Exciting. Enjoying the simple landing page -- a bit of mystery. Would love if there was a few animations showing what the app is like. Cheers!

defternotes.com · 27d ago

In our case it was something we wanted and needed for ourselves. Pretty simple but turned out we were not alone.

gaberagland · 49d ago

One week I managed to whip up a fairly complex side project idea by pulling bits of the UI and logic from some old projects. It was so satisfying to ship quickly and avoid re-inventing the wheel this time around. That led me down the path of thinking.. man there should be a tool online that just asks what you need and generates all the UI and logic for you. It's all been done before, there's just nothing that lets you pick what you need. That idea became https://divjoy.com

Klog · 48d ago

This is awesome. Love the site. Where do you see divjoy heading? Did you see the release of that new notion-esque web builder?

gaberagland · 48d ago

Thanks! Right now it's mostly about getting highly requested integrations in. Bunch of stuff coming next month like Gatsby and Tailwind (more listed on https://docs.divjoy.com/roadmap). After that I'd like to do a much better job at catering to people who aren't super opinionated about the tech. So the flow might look something more like "what type of site are you making" (landing page, saas, ecommerce, etc), then "what kind of features would you like" (public user profiles, image upload, etc). I'm probably not heading toward actually doing app hosting, but who knows. Don't think I've seen the notion-esque web builder you're talking about. Have a link?

Klog · 48d ago

Awesome. Love the roadmap. Best of luck.

Typedream (have't tried it yet, but looks nifty as well): https://typedream.com/

gaberagland · 48d ago

Oh yeah Typedream is super cool! And thanks for the support!

aasthajain · 49d ago

I've been obsessed with health for a while now because I was personally was trying to get really fit. I tried making a protein spread for myself that could substitute as dessert (using stevia) - healthy, tasty and high protein. Researching on it took me down the path of longevity science and I started experimenting on myself. I saw some amazing changes in my health, fitness, mood and wanted to share the advice with others. But longevity science can get very technical for some people so my friends would start zoning out listening to me, but I really wanted them to know the secrets too. So I decided to start writing about it in a fun manner that appeals to everyone in the form of stories & comics such that people have science-backed tools to optimize their health. I fell in love with the space of longevity science! https://livelongerworld.substack.com/

Klog · 48d ago

Anyone making education more enjoyable gets a +1 in my book.

jules · 53d ago

My past side projects have failed because I was trying to solve a problem for a customer that wasn't me and that wasn't anyone that I was close to. As a result, I couldn't establish a feedback loop of talking to the customer and building a product that solves their problem.
I've read so many times that you should solve your own problem, and so this time I decided to do just that.

I've always been ambitious but to get things done I mostly relied on motivation. I learned more about the power of good habits and how good habits done consistently are the best way to get the results that you want. I struggled to stick to my good habits (i.e go to bed early, read, and work on my side project every morning). I realized that I wanted to build a tool that made it easy to build good habits that stick. This was the start of www.wombo.io!

jerico · 52d ago

Cool -- you are using this daily? How have you seen the results?

jules · 52d ago

Hey jerico, yes I use Wombo every single day and I love it haha. With Wombo you design a system of habits to get the results that you want and then you follow a simple daily plan. The plan gives me clarity and makes it easy to stick to my system. The result is that I’m sticking to my healthy habits and feeling energized and focused. Additionally I’m more productive because I’m going to bed earlier and waking up earlier to meditate and complete a deep work session. I can’t list all of my habits here but you can see them all in the Wombo habit templates.

jerico · 48d ago

Very cool -- when you think about the business, where do you feel you're strongest? Dev side or sell side? How's it going as a whole, have you had other people try it out?

jules · 48d ago

I like to build so dev side is where I'm strongest, but I'm focused on developing my sales and marketing muscle right now. It's still early. I'm collecting user feedback each week and iterating on the product and messaging. Also running weekly experiments with different marketing channels. Seeing some promise!

jerico · 47d ago

Nice. I wonder if there's a way to capitalize on twitter with everyone building in public... like a habits in public kind of thing.

Also been doing a bunch of reading recently centered around "go really hard on your strengths and only buoy your weaknesses up to a certain necessary point." May be worth seeing if a customer of yours would want to help market as well, as a contractor job...

antonio · 55d ago

During the last few months, I've interviewed multiple indie hackers and founders and I've compiled a playlist with their advice about coming up with new ideas and how to validate them. Hope you find it useful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0W1HNBh5Z0&list=PL30JGAYz4ENgXBmbDBQ5i69WR7EIwWeA_

infinitiventures · 58d ago

I'm a deeptech enthusiast. I was actively seeking a portal where I could read about all the advances in deeptech startups building the future. I couldn't find such a portal and hence I decided to build one at https://www.infinitiventures.io

sole-fields · 56d ago

Pretty cool -- so you link out to other projects in the space? Any in particular you want to tackle personally?

Unsolicited feedback: I think you should include "the initial mission of Infiniti Ventures is to catalogue the advances across research in deep technology sectors and the emerging trends across deep tech startups." on the front page! That really explains what you're up to.

Exciting work.

ptmn · 59d ago

I work on research and move around to talk with people everywhere I travel. In the lab, I code. When I can't code, I find unrelated fun activities. Things just add up over years with a long list of several random things I tried.

It does not make sense to lots of people, but indeed it helps me connect with a lot of super interesting people.

To me the right things just happen as it should be with very little effort and in the most unexpected way.

May the flow be with you :)

kendsouza · 60d ago

To me life has no purpose other than the living of it. It is easy to get into a rut with one idea and get trapped in a echo chamber and shut out opinions that exist outside of the echo chamber.. That is why polarization happens because folks only want to listen to what supports their idea or world views.

I always tried to go with what came along. In my younger days I was fascinated by Muhammad Ali's story and took to boxing..won many bouts...lost many too. but winning and losing was never relevant..and the experience was incredible. I loved running while boxing..took to running ..started 5ks 10k and eventually marathons. Just gathered participation medals..no wins there. Travelled a lot. Published my spiritual pointers & poems. I loved tech..i still do..made a career out of it and developed numerous systems.

My wife and I loved volunteering for various organizations like parent teacher organizations while our kids were at school..was asked to help as I knew the tech..eventually started developing a full fledged solution with RunPTO (www.runpto.com).

Then the pandemic happened, schools shut down..so forked the RunPTO code out and developed RunHOA (www.runhoa.com) (as I was also volunteering for a Home Owner Organization). And now the schools are coming back to normal and RunPTO is getting more traction than RunHOA. My son had mentioned last year to check out Pioneer and here I am:)

How did the idea or ideas happen?..I guess it just happened along the way while living my life.. one thing led to another..the forest gumpy way :)

sole-fields · 59d ago

This is nice! How are the businesses doing metrics wise? Would you want to go full-time ever or are you already?

kendsouza · 59d ago

I live my life 'fulltime' or all the time:). If your question was about working for somebody..then the answer is ..I do not work for anybody. The subscription is steadily growing in RunPTO. With what we already have, we will get to $20k in ARR by the end of this year and $50k in ARR by July of next year, the minimum for RunPTO. Expect to see traction in RunHOA by the end of this year too.

sole-fields · 56d ago

Well done.

fahmifromCloodot · 60d ago

Our first Startup - My Ride Works an app to get the best vehicle maintenance service-related deals online was launched soon after the official incorporation of the company. We partnered with several automotive dealerships and service providers. Unfortunately, union activists were involved and stopped service providers from providing any discounts from standard collective pricing. This affected our entire business. We had to shut down the operation. But one good thing that came from the whole matter is connections in the automotive industry. We used our connections to learn about their problems in digital space. We got many suggestions and product ideas. But one particular problem stood out and was said by the majority of them. i.e. their inconvenience in managing customer interactions from across the web. We did thorough market research and found out that the particular problem that we were going to address was an 80B+ market and our best competitors were making 100s of millions with less than 1% market share.

Cloodot.com is a company that Started from a Small bike dealer in 2019 to the fastest growing CX company in India. We started as a Reputation management company, but that was just the beginning. Now Cloodot provides a fast, secure, high-quality customer experience with an omnichannel inbox to manage customer Chats and reviews from multiple Google Business listings, Facebook pages, WhatsApp numbers, Webchats, SMS numbers, etc in one inbox.

brianwaterstone · 60d ago

The world is packed full of things to improve – which can cause decision paralysis.

When selecting a project, I try to focus on exciting ideas that will be useful to myself and others, and are in a domain where I might be able contribute something meaningful.

That's what keeps me motivated every day.

Happy building!

sole-fields · 60d ago

Have you picked one recently? What are you tinkering at these days?

manojranaweera · 60d ago

Except for the very first tech startup (2004 to 2006), all my other tech startups were started because of a problem I had. So I am always my first customer. Life gets easier that way, at least for me.

I get ideas about how to improve what I am doing but I rarely get new ideas for startups.

lorenwinzeler · 57d ago

Opportunity in prior business... said differently, unsolved pain from prior work. The key insight for me is having waiting to see if the market solves it before jumping. this is not applicable to most projects where speed and time to market are key. basically...talk to people in boring businesses.

My latest venture, downpayment.gift, was born from something I saw in a previous business. I used to be a mortgage originator and manager of a mortgage company I started in northern california. we decided to market our services to would be home buyers a local wedding shows... one in particular that we attended 2x annually had around 900-1100 attendees of brides and grooms. we would collect lead sheets and hold raffles... after the first couple shows, we added a check box for "down payment registry" info to the lead sheet. 55% of respondents (generally about 120-220 forms per event) checked that box... far exceeding the other resources offered. the trouble is that we did not have a solution to offer a cash, down payment registry online that we could control. (ie, a gofundme for home down payment).... this was in 2010-2011... we did it manually for them working with a local US Bank branch manager to open escrow accounts.... over the years, some people tried this idea but there was always a challenge around monetization. basically, charging the donors or recipients?? neither works. we are charging the mortgage lenders... the core business model innovation to this idea. fast forward to 2020 and no one is really making happen so it was time to pick it up and run with it. I had left the mortgage business in 2017 to get back to programming (yippie!). Technology and banking APIs have progressed enough to enable this type of niche fintech. ..also the acceptance of crowdfunding and alternative wedding registries make adoption easier. also, adoption of digital mortgage software is way up. add impact I felt covid would have on housing and weddings.

I literally watched this idea for almost a decade. the original domain that I've since abandoned was registered 9 years ago!
You don't have to go work somewhere for a decade and then emerge with an idea. Talk to people in boring businesses.

JetBrains · 59d ago

.

McKayla-Berry · 56d ago

A "citizens dashboard" would be really cool.

- Businesses you've created + official forms filed.
- Personal tax information.
- Relevant annual filing dates.
- Interesting tax exemptions available in your state.
- Odd laws in your locale and region.
- etc.