Ideas are wothless: the definitive list

I have been to several tech meetups and I have met people with product ideas. I have tried and failed to explain to them that the conventional wisdom is that ideas are worthless. This happens despite the fact I read an article on Hacker news to this effect regularly (here is one from today). In response, I have compiled a list of tech startup luminaries that have formed my thinking on the matter.

Actually, startup ideas are not million dollar ideas, and here's an experiment you can try to prove it: just try to sell one. Nothing evolves faster than markets. The fact that there's no market for startup ideas suggests there's no demand. Which means, in the narrow sense of the word, that startup ideas are worthless.” - Paul Graham

"Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats." - Howard Aiken

Ideas are pretty much worthless.” -Joel Spolsky

I particularly like his notion that the person with the idea should not command a premium on equity allocation.” - Fred Wilson

“So now I ask you, what have you done to earn a technical co-founder?
And don't say that you're the idea guy. Having an idea is one piece, but it's a very, very small piece. In fact, it's so small that it's actually better to earn a technical co-founder without the idea in place so that you guys come up with it together.” - Jason Freedman

“We all have that one friend who says, “I had the idea for eBay. If only I had acted on it, I’d be a billionaire!” That logic is pathetic and delusional. Having the idea for eBay has nothing to do with actually creating eBay. What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan. Think your ideas that valuable? Then go try to sell it and see what you get for it. Not much is probably the answer. Until you actually start making something, your brilliant idea is just that— an idea. And everyone’s got one of those.” - Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson

“I dare you to try to get a company to steal your idea.” - Eric Ries

"So if you want to get into technology and don’t code, if you think you have a knack for product and a killer idea, start reading and learning. Then convince an engineer, as an equal, without blustering. Until you get there, you just have an idea. That’s nice, but it’s the very first step in a long road." - Aaron Harris

Let me know if you have any other good examples.


Anonymous said...

Howard Aiken's quote:

>>>Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.

Andrew said...

mikecane that is a great one. I will add it to the list. This list also applies to people that want to keep an idea in stealth mode despite no obvious reason.

Harris Reynolds said...

I've always like PG's simple way to test for a market: try to sell it! So my corollary has been: Put it on ebay if it is so valuable!

andrew thomas said...

Here is the best post yet on the value of an idea. Ideas are a multiplier of execution.