What does it take to become the next startup unicorn or to develop the next life-changing product? It all starts with a big idea. That said, inspiration can be a tricky thing – and the spark for a new business venture can start at any time.
So what has inspired some of today’s top startup founders? How were they able to transform idea into reality? Hear the stories from several of our portfolio companies below:
- Anne Wojcicki co-founded 23andMe with the goal of upending healthcare. Following the discovery that her then-husband carried a genetic risk of Parkinson’s disease, she became passionate about giving individuals access to their genetics and, in the process, transforming the way drugs are made and patients are treated.
- After experiencing frustration with the current process of testing for things like chicken pox – in the case of his young daughter – Biomeme Co-founder Max Perelman decided to help find a more cost-effective, efficient way of performing the same health tests on a smartphone.
- Birchbox Co-founder Hayley Barna had received the newest beauty products and tips from a friend who worked in the industry, which made her realize that many other women may enjoy similar recommendations and personalized advice. Thus, Birchbox’s monthly subscription model was born.
- Working on multiple laptops and needing – but constantly forgetting – his USB drive to complete his work, Dropbox Co-founder Drew Houston realized he could solve this problem for many others and built the company with the goal of providing cloud storage and file synchronization so files are available whenever and wherever users need them.
- Feastly was founded upon Noah Karesh’s idea that everyone should have access to a fantastic meal with a new community, no matter where you are. Thus, Feastly aims to identify new purpose for underutilized spaces by hosting pop-up dining.
- Given the advice “create products to help the greater good of society,” Meetup Co-founder Scott Heiferman was inspired to create a digital social community to connect people around the world following September 11th.
- After living the life of a digital nomad, Outsite Founder Emmanuel Guisset knew firsthand the struggle of finding remote work/living space that also provided opportunities to connect with like-minded professionals. Outsite was created to combine work and play into one.
- Seeking to tackle the problem of food deserts and lack of healthy food in many areas, Gunnar Lovelace co-founded Thrive Market to use the power of direct buying to deliver healthy food and natural products to members at wholesale prices while sponsoring free memberships for low-income American families.
- After a bad cut from a plastic bladed quadrotor, Vantage Robotics’ Co-founder Tobin Fisher realized the safety risk posed by flying cameras and drones and sought a new, safer design that would bring the magic of flying cameras to more people.
A big takeaway from these examples is that founders tend to capitalize on a pain point they have personally experienced or have seen a strong need for. Their founding stories involve finding improvement, increasing efficiency, and improving the lives of their prospective customers – not just finding product-market fit but also finding why their products or services are in demand to become true lifestyle brands and better serve their customers long term.
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