Startup Checklist

Published on Jul 12, 2019 in Startups

A friend asked me how I think about starting new startups/ideas/side projects. My answer was that I use a list that forces me to ask the right questions.

I've never shared this list with anybody... until now. Enjoy.


  1. Why am I doing it? Am I really passionate about this idea/product/industry?
  2. How much time/energy am I willing to invest in it?
  3. Would I realistically still be motivated to work on it 1 year from now?


  1. What is the problem? Why is it a pain?
    Describe it in very simple words.
  2. Who are the users?
    Describe the people for whom this is a pain.
  3. What is the essence of their dissatisfaction? If they read this answer, would they say “thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way”?
    Describe it in a tweet. 
  4. What am I building for them?
    Describe it in a tweet.
  5. How fast can I validate the idea? Can I test the idea with a quick/scrappy prototype?
  6. Write a tweet from a hypothetical customer explaining the product and how it eliminates their dissatisfaction.
    @BrianNorgard: No one cares about your product. Who built it, its features, the origin story — it’s all superfluous. People only find value in what your product can do for them right now. Save people time. Save people money. Give people an escape. The selfish hand will always govern.

  7. Write a blog post title for your product launch. Is it surprising? Is it new? Will your target customers want to click on it? Will they want to share the link? Will they still share it the next day?
    <= 70 chars


  1. How big is the TAM? 
  2. How many people can you reach now with an MVP?
  3. List your first ten customers. 
  4. How will I get the next 25 customers?  
  5. What do I need to do to get 250 customers? 


  1. Why now? What’s true about the world that nobody else figured out yet?
    <= 240 chars
  2. Where can I deliver value here? How is it different from existing solutions? What is my "unfair advantage" now?
  3. How will I build a moat in the future?

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