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Idea Generation

Chris Anderson, founder of Future Publishing and CEO of TED Talks: “Observe people’s real passions
to figure out what they want.” Tweet2

Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose.org: “Don’t just scratch your own itch, but an itch you actually
care about.” Tweet2

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx: Cultivate a vision for your product by devoting time to thinking,
honing in on a clear goal (hers: get on the Oprah Winfrey Show), and solicit feedback not from family
but people who can help. Tweet2

Steve Blank, founder of Epiphany and author of The Startup Owner’s Manual: “Start with your core expertise (something you have business experience in), focus on an idea that truly excites you, and don’t dismiss entrepreneurship education.” Tweet2

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Rodney Brooks, founder of iRobot and Rethink Robotics: “Identify the intersection of your talents and
the ways you imagine the world being a better place. Also identify “megatrends” that will create major
new markets.” Tweet2

Jeff Bussgang, founder of Open Market, Upromise, and Flybridge Capital Partners: “Focus on customer
pains that are a high priority for them, and build a solution that has immediate and obvious benefit.” Tweet2

Marc Cenedella, founder of TheLadders: “Find the intersection of your abilities and your passion, and
do something nobody else can do.” Tweet2

Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar: “Take advantage of excess capacity (assets people have but don’t use
all the time), enable collaborative consumption, and figure out what you’re good at before finding a
market.” Tweet2

Chip Conley, founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality: “Approach the market like an outsider unburdened by
assumptions or traditions.” Tweet2

Chris Dixon, founder of SiteAdvisor, Founder Collective, and Hunch: “Find founder/market fit, and fill
“whitespaces” (places where there is demand but no supply).” Tweet2

Caterina Fake, founder of Flickr and Hunch, chairman of Etsy: “Make something that people would use
every day.” Tweet2

Mitch Free, founder of MFG.com: “Ideas will find you, rather than the other way around.” Tweet2

Eileen Gittins, founder of Blurb: “Pick a market that is large, growing, and within your reach.” Tweet2

Joe Green, founder of Causes: “To decide between ideas, flesh them out first and then compare.” Tweet2

Scott Heiferman, founder of i-traffic, Fotolog, and Meetup: “Find an idea that you’re obsessed with; and
focus on things that are actually useful.” Tweet2

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn: “Pick the biggest idea you can handle; and pick ideas where you
can be ten times better than the competition.” Tweet2

Ben Horowitz, founder of Opsware: “Make something that’s ten times better than the competition’s.” Tweet2

Cyrus Massoumi, founder of ZocDoc: “Solve one of your users’ top problems, and focus on one area
and one sector.” Tweet2

Stephen and Heidi Messer, founders of LinkShare: “Find opportunities that other people don’t see.” Tweet2

Hosain Rahman, founder of Jawbone: “Focus on a full experience, and build products that make it
better; and focus on something customers care about.” Tweet2

Adeo Ressi, founder of TheFunded.com and The Founder Institute: “Start with multiple ideas and narrow
them down; find the intersection of your strengths and the world’s deficits.” Tweet2

Kevin Ryan, founder of AlleyCorp, CEO of Gilt Groupe: “Pick ideas that you can execute on, because
execution is more important; and pick ideas that you’re obsessed with.” Tweet2

Kirill Sheynkman, founder of Stanford Technology Group, Plumtree Software, and Elastra
Corporation, managing director of RTP Ventures: “Make something better or faster.” Tweet2

Jeff Stewart, founder of Mimeo, Urgent Career, and Lenddo: “Start with lots of ideas and pit them
against each other.” Tweet2

Mitchell Cuevas
(@mcuevasm) I am the Sr. Marketing Director here at Techstars, am passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and am obsessed with finding, playing with, and implementing all the best new marketing (and other) technology I can get my hands on.