June 3, 2020

Be ready when the wind picks up

When you see a lot of startup activity/opportunity in one area, it’s hard to not go after it. E.g., Hey—lots of people are using video chat, during the pandemic. We should make a Zoom alternative.”

I think this is a mistake, though.

Others are working on that problem and have a big lead. Unless you have a wildly different approach, you might be too late.

Conversely, there are a whole bunch of other areas that are likely to crack open in the months/years to come. These aren’t terribly hard to find, but they’re really hard to stick to—because the demand hasn’t yet surfaced.

So, if you choose to work on one of those, you should acknowledge that you’re acting on a hunch. You also need to accept that you’ll have to keep working (with limited uptake) until the wind picks up.

By wind”, I mean an event that propels what you were already working on. For example, if you had built:

  • An RSS reader, before Google killed theirs
  • A delivery service, before the pandemic
  • A green tech company, before oil prices 10x

The probability of such an event occurring is often high—but, they’re difficult to time. So, it helps to commit a mission you believe in.

Such a thing can help during the long stretches in which you might otherwise think you’re wasting your energy on the wrong thing.

startups timing mission

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