The best way to come up with startup ideas is to ask yourself the
question: what do you wish someone would make for you?
There are two types of startup ideas: those that grow organically
out of your own life, and those that you decide, from afar, are
going to be necessary to some class of users other than you. Apple
was the first type. Apple happened because Steve Wozniak wanted a
computer. Unlike most people who wanted computers, he could design
one, so he did. And since lots of other people wanted the same
thing, Apple was able to sell enough of them to get the company
rolling. They still rely on this principle today, incidentally.
The iPhone is the phone Steve Jobs wants.
Our own startup, Viaweb, was of the second type. We made software
for building online stores. We didn’t need this software ourselves.
We weren’t direct marketers. We didn’t even know when we started
that our users were called “direct marketers.” But we were
comparatively old when we started the company (I was 30 and Robert
Morris was 29), so we’d seen enough to know users would need this
type of software.