Every few weeks or so, I get an email from somebody with a “Big Idea”.
They have a great idea for a game and just need a programmer to write it and market it. If they tell me their idea, they say, you can develop the game and we’ll split the profits.
(Thanks to The Wheeze for emailing this to me)
Paul Graham created the company that became Yahoo! Stores. He is now an essayist and small company funder. In Ideas for Startups, he also poo-pooed ideas alone:
… 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.
With my ideas, I have been trying to do something. I bootstrap it. If I work toward a small proof of concept, it’s no longer just an idea. And it’s instantly worth more.
It’s through doing this that I realize that most of the work and the worth is in the execution, not the idea.