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Make Something People Want (and get it to them at a profit)

April 9, 2018


The most well-known startup accelerator in the world (perhaps of all time), Y Combinator, has a tagline which I’m sure they use as a reminder/exhortation for many people that pass through their halls: Make Something People Want.

For people starting out to create their first company, project, or creative endeavor it’s simple advice that’s hard to beat. Encoded in that phrase are the concepts of creating something and the perception of value by someone else. It’s also a good phrase to keep around as a way to check on priorities.

I’ve found it useful to augment the phrase to “Make Something People Want (and get it to them at a profit)” in order to add a couple other essential factors (distribution, economic model, costs) in a similarly simple way.

Too often people make something and think the work ends after the object/thing is done. Seth Godin advises checking to make sure your internal case for success doesn’t include the phrase “and then a miracle happens.”

If you’re a product/creative person, this second part is often no fun, but it’s essential — if only to have reasonable expectations. Sometimes miracles do happen, but it’s good to figure out what you’re going to do when they don’t.

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