I have skills, time and money but no ideas.

by snapthrowchataway. Posted on Sep 09, 2020    12    30

I'm a full stack developer. I have worked for a number of startups, and while doing so have developed some good skills and saved around $80k not including emergency funds.

I want nothing more than to go out do my own thing. I have a fairly regular work schedule these days and have time each evening which I usually spend working on my skills. I would love to use that time to start building something but I for the life of me can not figure out what.

Any advice on coming up with ideas would be appreciated. I have read a thousand times to identify and work on a problem in what you currently do, but no matter how hard I look I don't seem to be able to see an opportunity around what I do. Maybe it is just me, not sure. I just know I can't keep working on other people's dreams.



Find a good partner! I am a perfect example. My experience is the business side of tech. I know how to architect and discuss technical concepts but can’t actually build them.

We usually have a lot of ideas and a good partner will help sort the duds and the good ones. Once you find a great one, then you go!


are you looking for ideas or do you want to fulfill your own dreams? you might not want to admit to what your dreams are here but you probably do know what they are (?)

psshank 1

Try connecting with people from different industries on LinkedIn. Ask them if you they’d answer a few questions on their day-to-day work and the challenges they face. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many people would answer positively. Look for problems they face in their work.

I’m an Aerospace Engineer/Marketer. I personally face a huge problem everyday that hamper B2B marketing departments from reaching their customers effectively. Companies like mine are too traditional and we see piss-poor reach. I know the problem. I have solutions in mind after talking to hundreds of customers. But I’m not a developer, so I can’t create anything to fix it. But if someone asked me, I’d be happy to talk about it all day long.

Also joint r/business ideas. Start reading industry reports from analysts. Join crunchbase and read about the hundreds of products. Look at what problems are being solved.


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Alenieto 1

Would you be interested in collaborating on an existing project on MVP stage?

klu3lessguy 1

I’m currently a PM with a ton of complex software and hardware ideas and a grasp on how to approach them with the right people involved. I’m open to brainstorm with you at minimum to see if we fit. Feel free to PM me.

Mandy1538 1

Dont think of ideas, think of problems. List the problems and figure out a way to solve those problems using the skill set you have and plan a way you can generate revenue out of it


Start small. Your first thing on your own doesn’t have to be Facebook level big.

Resolve a persistent problem in your life (no matter how tiny) using your tech then start learning how to do copy and set up a little LLC, you’ll have infinite fundamentals on all these different categories to go learn. The knowledge quest will be sustainable and you’ll learn what you don’t like to do as a startup founder. Those are the skills you’ll eventually look for in employees or partners on a bigger scales project.

HammadNS 1

I've an idea for you.. make a news app in Instagram Stories style.

PotenciaMachina 2

Paul Graham:
Ideas for Startups;

How to Get Startup Ideas

You're welcome.

theeastcoastwest 3

Try to think of things that you would happily pay somebody $5 each month for.

nikkingtr 2

I think one of the things you could easily start is to pay attention to yourself and find out what makes you tick, what annoys you.

Then see if there’s anything already built that helps solve it.
If no, build that solution. If yes, is it satisfying? If no, build your solution. If yes, find something else.

CaptainTime 2

I have the opposite problem. I am good at marketing and finding product ideas, but I don't program. Perhaps partnering with someone with the ideas and marketing skills could work?

If so, we could talk.

tengable 2

Have you considered finding a co-founder that has an idea? Seems to me like finding another person to work with you would be beneficial anyways, and since you sound highly technical, finding a business oriented partner would probably make a great fit.

NewEng12 2

You don't need to come up with something totally new. Find something you like and see how you can make it better. Also, find business co-founder and you 2 can figure out what to start working on.

Geminii27 2

>I just know I can't keep working on other people's dreams.

I mean... most suggestions as to what to work on are going to be things other people have thought about and want to see happen in the world.

Do you have a rough idea of what kinds of possibilities might appeal to you? Because we could throw hundreds of ideas at you, but if all of them are going to get "Mmm, nah, not really me," it's kind of a non-starter.

If you want to get a bit of a more concrete feeling for what appeals to you personally, you can use something like this. It might give you some ideas. Or, if not full sets of blueprints, it might give you a ballpark for at least the kind of things that would make your brain sit up and take notice.

Alternatively - do you have hobbies, or fandoms, or just areas of interest that you follow, where it might be fun to put together a little site, service, or app in that wheelhouse, just for other enthusiasts?

MaxPast 2

I was in your shoes about 20 years ago with the only exception - I had no savings because it was just the beginning of my career. So, there were no questions about whether it will be fun to develop something or not, I just wanted some freedom of choice. I was tired of working for somebody else and got pretty excited about my dream future filled with fun software development projects and maybe even a lot of money.

It turned out that while it was really fun to develop something from time to time, I never made a lot of money unless I was forced to earn my living. So, it usually looked like long shifts of high development productivity with no business grows, then sudden bursts of profits whenever I got close to bankruptcy. But, when external motivation to make money vanished yet another time, I could not convince myself to do marketing and sales until the next "deadline".

So, the question here isn't about what product you want to develop but if it will be fun for you to build the business around it. If the product is the only thing that matters, you will never get out of the startup stage and eventually shut down because of burnout or competition. No hobby can last long if it becomes a "job". It becomes especially important as you age: I can't be productive for more than 15-20 hours a week in my 41.

When I was in my 20th and 30th I was pretty excited about the idea of building a software business and always tried to drag my friends into it. I failed each time because I was the only guy who was genuinely interested in learning marketing in my free time. Yes, it was still not fun to do marketing and sales, but, at least, I learned a lot and was able to perform whenever there was a real need. And, when I helped my friends to launch their first products and even make their first sales, it usually ended immediately after they finally understood that it's all about marketing, not the product. So, at the end, I gave up and just accepted the fact that the desire to start the business must go from inside, not from the outside. And, if somebody can't solve startup problems, he will not earn enough expertise to solve next-stage problems.

If we look at the current market, even knowing a lot about marketing doesn't help a lot because of high competition with other teams, not with other independent developers. No matter how smart and productive you are, you will inevitably lose this game to other motivated teams. So, this time I'm forced to learn management and it's a great luck that it's fun for me to learn it as well. But, as in the past, I still struggle with execution unless I'm close to bankruptcy. And, knowing about this fact, I even create some artificial scarcity and stress from time to time :)

So, in short, my advice here will be to look at your question from a different angle: are you willing to grow the business, hire and manage your people? Are you willing to learn marketing and management in your free time? Product is much easier for a technical guy like you and me, than marketing and management.

What always (but temporarily) worked for me was partnering with business-oriented people who filled the gap. But, if you are like me and don't want to lose control and preserve freedom of choice, you can't do equal partnership with others. In my case I always lost inner motivation whenever I got a partner of any kind.

So, if you are the type of guy who is OK about team work, I would recommend you to look for a non-technical business partner who will be responsible for marketing and management in the company. You will occupy your technical role which may be a good fit, after all. And, because you will not be the one who make marketing and strategic decisions, you should better look for product ideas after you get the partner. He/she will be just much more motivated and effective if he/she "owns" the idea.

And, if you still want to run the business on your own, and want to get my direct answer to your question: start with looking for customers, not for product ideas. Talk to them, learn their pain, try to help and you will inevitably get a good product idea. Yes, it's not that sexy but it actually works :)

Yet another approach is to solve your own problems but there is the risk: if they are purely technical, you will get customers like you who will be more willing to develop yet another project management/task tracking/cloud computing/AI solution rather then actually pay you the money. So, if you go this way, you should better solve marketing/management problems that you actually experience along the way. At least, that's what worked for me in the past, and I talked about that in brief in one of my previous comments.

Anyway, good luck in your future venture! Even when it's hard, it's still really fun :)

  snapthrowchataway 2

Thanks so much for the detailed reply, had not put much thought into other aspects outside the technical side of things so it's great food for though. Really appreciated!

izakotim 2

Some practical advice:

  1. Find something you're interested in (it could be anything really). If you're interested in it, chances are you know 3 or 4 other people that are into it as well.

  2. Engage with those people, often. Just regular conversations, do not fish for ideas (by asking stuff like "what do you think I could build to make x better"). Just regular conversations.

  3. Listen carefully. You'll eventually hear "I wish x..." or "it would be cool/better if..."

    There's your idea, and lucky for you, you're already interested in that space. Easier said than done.

    Alternatively, jump on r/CrazyIdeas and find something to build that's crazy but redditors seem to see value in.. chances are, it will be challenging but fun
  snapthrowchataway 1

Talking to others like that is a good idea, definitely something I will be doing. Thanks for the advice, appreciated.

Hdandhf 6

I have this conversation with too many other devs.

I think sometimes there's a glamorizing of ideas, that it has to be disruptive and super innovative. But really it can be simple, small, and quick.

It's even good to loosen up the gears by doing small stuff for fun.

  snapthrowchataway 1

I don't think I am looking for some grand idea, just any idea would be nice. I do think I am guilty of overthinking it though and should look at something small like you said.

xAvi_r 6

What's the things you struggle with the most? What's annoying you?
What's painful for your family? Your colleagues?

Don't search for an idea, look for a problem you want to fix!

  snapthrowchataway 1

I like the idea of polling colleagues and family, I will be sure to start asking around. Thanks for the reply!

georgewarm 11

Find out your dharma! Write 500 words about what's wrong with the world in your opinion and then maybe you'll figure out something that needs to be changed and make a business out of it!

  snapthrowchataway 4

That's a great idea, I never thought to write things down. Thank you!

georgewarm 1

You're very welcome! :)