Google's plan, for example, was simply to create a search site that didn't suck.They had three new ideas: index more of the Web, use links to rank search results, and have clean, simple web pages with unintrusive keyword-based ads.Good people can fix bad ideas, but good ideas can't save bad people. One of the best tricks I learned during our startup was a rule for deciding who to hire. It might be hard to translate that into another language, but I think everyone in the US knows what it means.
If you think about people you know, you'll find the animal test is easy to apply. And finally, since a few good hackers have unbearable personalities, could we stand to have them around?Call the person's image to mind and imagine the sentence "so-and-so is an animal." If you laugh, they're not. That last test filters out surprisingly few people.Above all, they were determined to make a site that was good to use.No doubt there are great technical tricks within Google, but the overall plan was straightforward.A startup that does all three will probably succeed.
And that's kind of exciting, when you think about it, because all three are doable. And since a startup that succeeds ordinarily makes its founders rich, that implies getting rich is doable too. If there is one message I'd like to get across about startups, that's it.
Ideas for startups are worth something, certainly, but the trouble is, they're not transferrable.
They're not something you could hand to someone else to execute.
A lot of would-be startup founders think the key to the whole process is the initial idea, and from that point all you have to do is execute. If you go to VC firms with a brilliant idea that you'll tell them about if they sign a nondisclosure agreement, most will tell you to get lost. The market price is less than the inconvenience of signing an NDA.
Another sign of how little the initial idea is worth is the number of startups that change their plan en route.
Microsoft's original plan was to make money selling programming languages, of all things.