Scanning TechCrunch recently feels like reading the same articles over and over. “MyCoolStartup is Groupon/Zynga/Open Table for Teeth Whitening/Salons/Car Service”. There are 2 reasons that startups like this annoy and disappoint me.
First, ideas like this just seem unoriginal to me. I don’t like the idea of framing your idea in terms of others that have already been done. If that’s how you have to explain your idea then you’re in trouble already. I realize that framing your idea in these terms is common for coming up with your pitch to VC’s. I, however, don’t care about VC’s, so that reasoning is lost on me.
Secondly, startups like these are basically like playing slot machines. You put a bunch of hot startups on one wheel, a bunch of industries on another, and pull the lever to randomly choose one from each. Then all you have to do is come up with a name for your “GroupMe for Golfers” startup. The problem is that these startups are typically so specialized that they are doomed to failure. Instead of being the Open Table for tennis court reservations I’d rather Open Table. Small ideas typically lead to small successes. Think bigger – don’t lock yourself into one industry or market segment.
This isn’t a condemnation of individual startups or their founders. I am all for picking an idea and going for it; I just don’t like to see startup founders set their sights too low.