The Sweet Spot

Some of the best startup ideas seem like bad ones during the initial stages. If an idea truly seems really good, someone else has probably done it. The most successful founders tend to work on ideas that no one else realizes are good. As Paul Graham puts it, its not that far from a description of insanity until you actually get to the point where you start seeing results.

Peter Thiel describes the sweet spot for startups through a Venn diagram. The intersection is the sweet spot where some of the best startup ideas initially seem bad. But, it also reminds you that most of the ideas that seem bad are probably bad.

Peter Thirl Sweet Spot

The questions is, how do you know if your seemingly bad idea is in the sweet spot or it truly is a bad idea. To start off, there are two filters that Paul Graham describes as the Schlep Filter and the Unsexy Filter.

The Schlep filter induces a condition known as Schlep Blindness. It keeps you from working on ideas that you fear because they force you into an unchartered territory.  The Unsexy filter is quite common amongst entrepreneurs. It keeps you from working on problems that you dislike.

Lets look at a popular example, AirBnB. It’s a classic Silicon Valley story of rejection and a startup idea that defied all logic. When Brian Chesky first came up with the idea, everyone though it was a pretty dumb idea. It was an industry everyone was scared to tackle not to mention how unattractive it was. Who would want to rent a room or their house to complete strangers? As a traveller, would you want to stay in some stranger’s house instead of a nice hotel? With a $2.5 Billion plus valuation and the insane growth displayed in the info-graphic below, we can all safely say that AirBnB was a seemingly bad but genius idea.

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Next time you're stuck with an idea, reduce your chances of dealing with a bad one by turning off the two filters. It will save you time and effort.