How do I start a company?

There are three ways to start a company:

  1. Start with a technology or solution that you think is unique, and find a problem to solve and a team to solve it with.
  2. Start with an idea for a problem you want to solve, find a team, then develop a solution.
  3. Start with a team and find an idea for a problem to solve, then develop a solution.

In short: it's always going to be permutations between team, idea for a problem to solve, and a technology or solution that solves it. Contrary to common belief, however, the first way is almost always the most time consuming way and is at high risk for evolving into a situation where the solution is a hammer looking for a nail. That said, this is the path of many deep tech, tough tech and biotech startups. There is still a way to succeed - the founding team just needs to know they need to go back two or three steps into problem space, brainstorm and explore problems they think their technology can solve, and then build out their solution with their unique technology.

For idea-led startups, typically there is one founder who wants to solve a problem in some area of interest. The challenge is to find co-founders and form a team to work on this together.  Check out our thoughts on founder dating for some ideas on how to find great co-founders to work on your idea.

For team-led startups, typically there is a compatible team that has experience working together.  The challenge is to narrow down on an idea to start with.  Check out our thoughts on idea selection for some frameworks that will help you narrow down the playing field.  Also see IDEO's ideation and brainstorming video for inspiration.


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