Idea Graveyards

Great ideas are everywhere, sometimes you just have to wake them up from the dead

If you read Twitter, Hacker News, Reddit, Facebook, LinkedIn (God help you), Product Hunt, newsletters - whatever - the world is constantly pushing new, amazing, shiny ideas at you.

But the long-term survival rates of startups is pretty low, and if you look at more informal side-hustles and part-time projects, I imagine it’s even lower.

Looking for opportunities

There are tremendous opportunities to be found by sorting through dead, expired, or abandoned projects.

Maybe the creator got bored? Maybe they moved onto bigger and better things? Perhaps they were great at building and bad at selling?

This week I went through 200+ projects that had wildly successful initial launches on Hacker News and Product Hunt within the last few years. We’re talking about thousands of upvotes in most cases - putting all of these projects in the top 0.1% of launches on these sites.

I’m not sure of the exact 1-year, 3-year, 5-year survival rates (if you have too much time on your hands and want to help us figure that out, email me), but anecdotally, a large percentage of these once-red-hot projects are redirected to expired domains just a couple years later.

Some of my favorite dead projects

DemandRush

Launched on Hacker News in 2017 with a whopping 1,100 upvotes and 451 comments (putting it at #16 in the top Show HN posts of all time), and seemed to go dark about a year ago.

Great concept. Get people to raise their hand for unsolved problems they’re facing, and put a price tag on what they’d pay to make the problem go away:

OneView Calendar

Launched a few years ago with 825 upvotes and almost 200 comments, making it the 40th most popular Show HN of all time.

The site has shut down, but you can still go back through their original demo. There still feels like a big opportunity to make good-looking and more intuitive calendar apps in 2020.

Maitre Viral Referral Waiting List

Was one of the top products of the month on Product Hunt when it launched, and generated 2,289 upvotes.

An insane name for a product that did exactly what it sounded like: help brands create referral-based waiting lists in seconds. There are sites today that do this, but given the resurgence of waiting lists for communities and apps, there is probably a fresh approach waiting to be built.

Conclusion

Great ideas are everywhere. You don’t always need to re-invent the wheel.

Sometimes looking through Top Hacker News Launches or Most Upvoted Product Hunts can be a good source of inspiration.

PS: some very-much-alive products I found along the way and like

  • Oppreist: Standing desks made of cardboard. No, you’re not drunk - the site is in Norwegian. Great idea with everyone working from home and making makeshift desks out of stacks of books.

  • Snaptrude: a slick app to transform rough sketches into realistic architectural models.

  • UHMMM: if you do a lot of Zoom calls, this is hilarious. Best demo I’ve seen in a while.

  • Scan Your PDF: push back on bureaucracy by uploading your PDF and making it look as though it was scanned.

This post was written by Chris Bakke, co-founder of Laskie.

Laskie helps companies solve their most impactful problems.

If you have a sales, data science, engineering, operational, or hiring question, email chris@laskie.co