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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


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.