Here's the problem we started with: Co-working was super popular and still is, but it's not something we can do safely in the US right now.
So, I thought, what if we could re-create a co-working space virtually? Of course, it's not going to be even close to the same, but it could supply a little community to freelancers who might miss hanging around others getting work done!
I can't code, and I have no idea how I would even try to build something like this from the ground up - but the simplest version of a 3D online re-creation of life I could think of was Minecraft.
A co-working space on a Minecraft server, where we can all go, chat with others from around the world, and get stuff done. It's silly, but it could work, so why not test it?
My first step to testing any idea is to pretend it exists, and build a simple landing page. I used Carrd and an embedded Typeform to gather emails. I actually built part of the Minecraft server with some friends on a live stream in half an hour, then spent the next half hour creating the landing page.
Then, I needed to get it in the hands of as many interested individuals as I could - so I posted a few places on Reddit, and people seemed to dig it. We got 15 signups in one day, all from one post.
Now, we're in the process of building the server to something substantial. We need to install a few more plugins and make sure permissions are set up correctly so nobody can screw up what we've built, but it should be done in less than a week.
And, most importantly, we tested the idea in about an hour and we were able to figure out if people cared before we spent serious time or money building anything.
This is a super basic example of a startup, I suppose, but I think all new ideas should be started this way. Don't build anything, just make a mockup and fake it, then ask people to sign up if they want to be notified when you're finished.
You get feedback, you find your first customers, and you don't have to build a thing besides a simple landing page and a few pictures that illustrate what your product solves.
Fake it till you know your customers want what you're selling, then make it!