Y Combinator Challenge: Mission Accomplished!


I’d like to join myself in extending a very heartfelt congratulations to me for completing the Y Combinator Challenge.  Coming up with 30 startup ideas over the course of 30 days (with one little break) was not easy, but what worthwhile things are?  I had a blast working my way through the list and having a set of constraints to focus my random brainstorming efforts.  Plus, with a little help from my new friends over on Hacker News, I finally got a few visits from someone outside of my gene pool.  Not that it really matters, but it’s always fun to get some outside opinions in the mix to kick off a discussion around new ideas.

Also, I want to give credit where it’s due – the esteemed Mr. Paul Graham.  This list of 30 app ideas was, for me, an amazing source of inspiration and I have a ton of respect for everything pg is doing to help young entrepreneurs in the Web 2.0 community.

To celebrate the end of the challenge, I’m going to try another contest.  It’s pretty simple – I’m going tol list my five favorite ideas, and you vote on which one you like the best in the comments section.  The winner will get a little something from a killer startup here in Seattle.  I’ll choose the winner randomly from everyone who commented before midnight (PST) on Monday, Sept 29.

  • New News – The basic idea of this one is pretty solid – recreate the fun and excitement of a real newsroom online.  I think I’d actually use it, which is a good litmus test since I actually don’t use most of the new sites I read about on a daily basis.
  • Dating – To be honest, I’m actually not that crazy about this idea.  I just put it in here so I’d have an excuse to post this fake Chuck Norris profile again:


  • Office Competitor – This idea got the most comments and traffic out of any of the posts.  I like the focus on the specific college market, but it’s such a difficult market, I’m not sure it’s worth the effort to try and crack it.  On the other hand, this market has a ton of upside potential – so if you’re going to swing for the fences, this isn’t a bad pitch to hit.
  • Shopping Guides – OK, this was the only idea I posted over a weekend and it got almost no hits.  Quick hint to anyone who reads this: sometimes if I think an idea really has potential, I’ll intentionally gloss over details or try to obscure the “secret sauce” of the idea as best I can.  Is this one of those cases, or was I just messing around because I had nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than research Hollywood gossip sites?  🙂 
  • Easy Site Builder – This one is all about the execution.  It would have to be incredibly easy-to-use and well-designed, or it would fall flat on its face.  Also, I’m not convinced that there’s that big of a market between the simple site builders and a fully-featured WYSIWYG tool like Dreamweaver or Visual Studio.  Still – I think it’s a unique idea and something that I really, really, really wish existed.

Vote now by posting your favorite site idea in the comments below.  And if you don’t like any of these, write-in nominations are always welcome!  Thank you all for taking part in the YC Challenge, and stay tuned for details about my next big project.

12 responses to “Y Combinator Challenge: Mission Accomplished!

  1. I like the shopping guides. With recent developments in mobile devices (WinMobile, iPhone and Android) collaborative shopping guides will really have lot of potential.

  2. I’d have to say New News is the best idea. I really wish I could find something that keeps me coming back to real news sites, but I haven’t found anything yet.

  3. I like the office competitor and I think socializing it more than google docs is the way to go. Have you thought about doing it as a facebook app instead of standalone?

  4. I really like the New News idea. Not only would it be a fantastic way of publishing non-mainstream perspectives, but it would probably result in many more people becoming more informed.

  5. I actually like the dating idea the most. Obviously there is a huge market for this because 1. many people marry and 2. many people have a hard time finding the right person. I like your way of solving the “chicken and egg” problem.

  6. I think New News is the most interesting. Sounds like it might be tough to really bring it all together in an actual app, but I think the concept.

    Congratulations on coming up with all of those ideas. They were all pretty good and I understand how difficult it is to come up with innovative ideas on a daily basis.

    My YCombinator startup is vaguely related to “New News”…ping me any time if you want to chat

  7. that was some traffic spike. Folks follow good content so well done.
    setting a challenge like that really creates pressure to come up with something. when it works its magic.

  8. “Quick hint to anyone who reads this: sometimes if I think an idea really has potential, I’ll intentionally gloss over details or try to obscure the “secret sauce” of the idea as best I can. Is this one of those cases, or was I just messing around because I had nothing better to do on a Saturday morning than research Hollywood gossip sites?”

    Hell if I know. As I am older than 20, I don’t speak the language it was written in. Any chance of a translation into something easier for an American to read, like English, or Japanese, or ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics?

  9. Congratulations on your effort and coming up with 30 startup ideas!

    On your “fave 5”:

    -New News: I’d probably be too lazy to contribute actively, but I’d read an edited HN/reddit.

    -Dating: I think Twitter is still mostly used by early adopters, so this dating site would probably appeal only to early adopters. But then again this might be the competitive advantage.
    I also think something like this combined with FB could work out. All the profile data is already on there. (Don’t know if something like this already exists)

    – Office Competitor: Maybe this could be offered to the schools as a whitelabel solution. And maybe also to high schools, as you have to collaborate on some projects there too. But it’s still easier to meet up in front of 1 PC and work on a presentation together.

    – Shopping Guides: I guess there is a market for it… I’d focus on licensing the system to existing celebrity blogs/magazines as a new form of advertising. Maybe as a flash overlay on the pictures. Most celeb magazines analyze the fashion of the stars anyways (so I’ve heard ;))
    I think this is a win-win for everybody: the stars get talked about -> they get clothes for free from the manufacturers -> people interested in these celebrities get inspiration about the clothes and a convenient way to buy these -> celeb sites get a new source of income -> manufacturers get a very efficient way of advertising.

    – Easy Site Builder: Should be cheaper than hiring a professional web designer. I think it’s got potential because it focuses on small businesses. Maybe combine this with your idea #4 InstantCMS.

    I think the shopping guide idea has a lot of potential, so I’ll vote for that 🙂

  10. I’d certainly use a site like New News. Who knows, I might end up launching something like it…

  11. Pingback: Winners and What’s Next « A Startup A Day

  12. Pingback: YC RFS #1 – Future of Journalism « A Startup A Day

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