With a plethora of low-cost and even free tools available to develop and host online services and launch mobile apps, the barrier to entry for building a technology startup has dropped significantly in recent years. While just about anyone can launch their own tech business now, the challenge of honing a unique business idea remains as tough as ever.
Here are 8 online resources for finding and refining tech startup ideas and even finding co-founders to go into business with.
Designed as a place for entrepreneurs to get quality advice, Sprouter is devoted to finding useful answers to serious business questions. “What questions should I be prepared to answer when taking a call from a VC?,” asks one entrepreneur. “Any thoughts on timing of initial product launch and big PR push? Ramp up first or just put it out there?,” enquires another.
One appealing aspect of Sprouter is that it’s been able to attract successful people like Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com and Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger Network on board as ‘featured experts’, helping add some potential weight to the answers you receive. You can even ask them to an expert directly, and the site tells you when an expert is available to respond immediately. All questions are posted anonymously, so there’s no shame in asking something you might feel like you should already know.
Although Quora is a wide-ranging discussion site in terms of the topics it covers, plenty of the tech world’s finest minds are signed up. While it may not be quite as hot as it was seven months ago, it’s still one of the best places on the Web for getting expert opinions and insights.
There are a couple of good ways to use Quora to get startup advice. Firstly, asking a broad question in a relavent category (such as Startups) can reap some very high-quality answers. Meanwhile, due to the fact that so many successful tech industry figures are members of Quora, you can ask questions directly to them, or about them, and with a bit of luck you’ll get an answer right from the horse’s mouth. It won’t always happen, but there’s more of a chance here than just about any other single place on the Web.
Part of the Stack Exchange network of discussion sites, OnStartups Answers is a question and answer site for entrepreneurs looking to start or run a new business.
Coming across as a more focused take on what Quora does, it’s a lively forum with plenty of questions being posted each day on everything from credit card processing to equity. The focus is on providing answers to specific questions amongst a network of tech entrepreneur peers.
Andrew Warner has made a name for himself with his in-depth video interviews with some of the most successful tech entrepreneurs out there, at Mixergy. From Ycombinator’s Paul Graham to Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, these aren’t five-minute gloss-overs, these go into real detail about how successful people got to where they are today.
New Mixergy episodes are published regularly, so it’s worth coming back regularly for fresh inspiration every few days.
Describing itself as ‘Show and tell for designers’, Dribbble is a great place to find inspiration for the user experience and interface of your startup’s product. A ratings and voting system allows you to sort by the most popular or interesting designs. That said, just about everything here is top quality as the user community consists of discerning designers.
For a glimpse a the future of design, Dribbble is well worth perusing. You can find 14 more sites offering design inspiration here.
If you want to get investment for your startup, it helps to know what your potential investors. Union Square Ventures’ Fred Wilson is one of the most prolific VC bloggers out there. He blogs about everything from his favourite apps to how he and his family uses technology – it’s incredibly useful for working out what one of the best know tech venture capitalists is thinking.
Brad Feld is co-founder of well-known startup accelerator Tech Stars. From book reviews to thoughts on finance and competition, Feld’s blog gives valuable insights into the thoughts and opinions of this prominent early-stage investor.
Jason Cohen is a serial entrepreneur and partner at technology consulting firm and incubator Capital Thought, in Texas. His blog offers advice practical advice on a wide range of topics such as why your startup should have a single email address, and how to value your company for sale.
If you’re right at the start of your startup journey and don’t even have a first concept for your business, Ideaswatch is worth a look. This site allows people to share ideas for new products and services, providing inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs.
As you’d expect, the quality of ideas varies but in the few months the site has been open, thousands of concepts have been shared and discussed, so you may well find something that spots that gap in the market you’ve been looking for.
Finding the right co-founder for your startup can be a key factor in your chances of success. Founder2be is an organisation looking to make the process easier by taking an approach similar to online dating.
It acts as a ‘matchmaking’ service for entrepreneurs. Founder2be users create profiles, sharing information like their location; skills; availability; previous projects; startup and fund-raising experience; ability to contribute seed funding, and co-founder preferences. The site then offers up potential suitable matches. Users can also post up product ideas, helping to find a match with the right interests and skills.