Finding a Startup Idea

Last week I was talking to an entrepreneur and the topic of finding a startup idea came up. It got me thinking about the different ventures I’ve been a part of and where the ideas originated. Let’s take a look at a few.

Freelance Consulting

When I was in high school and college the dot com boom was in full effect. As a self-taught programmer, I built dozens of websites and received a recurring question: how do I update my site? The aha moment was to solve this problem and build a web content management system — Hannon Hill.

Internal Business Opportunity

At Hannon Hill, it was a journey in scalable entrepreneurship with an emphasis on building, selling, and servicing a product. Eventually, I focused in on sales and marketing in an effort to accelerate growth and realized the B2B marketing tools were insufficient. This lead to the idea for Pardot and building a marketing automation platform.

Business Challenge

At Hannon Hill and Pardot, we’d move subleases every 18-24 months in an effort to save money and have short lease terms as we didn’t know how fast we’d grow. A desire for more community, plus the fact that moving offices is a huge headache, inspired the idea for the Atlanta Tech Village. The Tech Village has now been home to thousands of startups over the years.

Customer Request

At SalesLoft, Kyle’s first product was lead intelligence whereby the system provided information about contacts changing jobs. While this product didn’t work out, customers said they really wanted leads, and then a way to authentically communicate. This feedback lead to the current SalesLoft Platform, and, eventually raising a $100M round at a $1.1 billion valuation.

Personal Friction

In the How I Built This interview about Calendly, Tope shares his personal story and frustration scheduling appointments with prospects as an enterprise software sales rep. This personal friction around meetings sparked the idea for Calendly, and now it’s one of the most widely used scheduling tools in the world.


Clearly, startup ideas come from many different places. Ultimately, the best ideas come from simply listening and looking at friction personally and professionally. Opportunities are all around us. Quality selection, and excellent execution, are the most difficult challenges.

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