Should I build something that lots of people like?

Google, Facebook, Dropbox, Airbnb, LinkedIn, PayPal.

All of these companies have millions of customers or active users. Facebook has nearly two billion active users and Gmail has more than a billion. These are mega start-up success stories!

So, you should look for a business idea that millions of people need, right?


How did Facebook start? As a small site targeted only at Harvard students! Guess what?  – Mark Zuckerberg was a Harvard student.

How did Google start? As a small search engine for doctoral researchers! Guess what? – Sergey Brin and Larry Page were doctoral students at Stanford.

How did Microsoft start? Have a go…

Do you see a pattern here? and No, it is not about being a university dropout!


The mega success stories were created by people trying to solve a problem for themselves.  What they were doing was important only to a very small group of users, but these initial adopters were desperately looking for that solution. So, desperate that they were happy to try even a bare-bones, barely beta version. From this initial success with a small group of users, these start-ups rapidly iterated to reach the point where they are today.

Hold on though.  What is wrong with having an EVEN BETTER idea than Sergei Brin? My idea is wanted by millions of people, so surely, billions await!!

You will most certainly end up with what Paul Graham, of Y Combinator, the American seed accelerator, calls a “made-up” or “sitcom” start-up idea.

Paul says “imagine if one of the characters on a TV show was starting a start-up? The writers would have to invent something for it to do. But coming up with good start-up ideas is hard. It’s not something you can do for the asking. So (unless they got amazingly lucky) the writers would come up with an idea that sounded plausible, but was actually bad.


For example, a social network for pet owners. It doesn’t sound obviously mistaken. Millions of people have pets. Often, they care a lot about their pets and spend a lot of money on them. Surely many of these people would like a site where they could talk to other pet owners. Not all of them perhaps, but if just 2 or 3 percent were regular visitors, you could have millions of users. You could serve them targeted offers, and maybe charge for premium features.

The danger of an idea like this is that when you run it by your friends with pets, they don’t say “I would never use this.” They say “Yeah, maybe I could see using something like that.” Even when the start-up launches, it will sound plausible to a lot of people. They don’t want to use it themselves, at least not right now, but they could imagine other people wanting it. Sum that reaction across the entire population, and you have zero users.”

Pauls argues that the key to unlocking a great start idea lies in three factors in common –

one, that is something founders themselves want,

two, something that they can build themselves and

three, something that few other realise are worth doing.

Not what millions of people want.

If you are considering starting your business as an alternate to your current work, come and learn from best instructors in this business. Taught by executive education and entrepreneurial faculty from London Business School you can either

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Crafting Your Entrepreneurial Opportunity

A one day Start-up bootcamp to create, refine and take the risk out of your new business idea

You should consider this if…

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Developing your Entrepreneurial Business

A once a week, 8 week staged journey to convert your idea to a real business

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You have a business idea, and are keen to develop it into a business by focusing on the right set of customers, develop the product that is the right fit for the market and its paying customers. And you want to do so by avoiding the most common mistakes naive entrepreneurs make.

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Held in London, the 1-day bootcamp and 8-week workshop have been designed for working professionals, and delivered by faculty who have not only helped grow businesses at King’s College London, London Business School, UCL, LSBU (Entrepreneurial University of the year, 2016) in the UK but also a number of universities, institutions, and governments abroad.

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