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This question originally appeared on Quora. Answer by Yair Weinberger.

There is no such thing as "idea" for a start-up, at least not in the sense that most people are thinking about it. At least not in B2B, but I suspect that not in B2C either.

What was the "idea" behind Google, Salesforce or Slack?

We used IRC 20 years ago, and HipChat 2 years ago, but the great product and great execution of Slack took the market amazingly fast.

It also does not matter. It's very rare that after 12 months you'll be doing the same thing anyway, or in the words of Reid Hoffman: "Starting a company is like throwing yourself off the cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down."

However, great companies always find inefficiencies in the market they operate in, and create products that fit snugly into the market need.

So if you want your start-up idea, here is how we went about it, and I think it’s a repeatable process. I think this method works best for creating a B2B SaaS start-up.

  1. Find a market that excites you. Otherwise you’ll be bored to death when doing your market research. For me, this was the Data Integration market, but that is because I suffered for over a decade from the inefficiencies in this market. For others, this may be boring as hell :)
  2. Research the heck out of this market. Spend 3–6 month doing your market research. Put a foot in the door of anyone who will open it for you, and learn from them. Try to diversify as much as you can in terms of company size and business vertical (unless you nail down something specific very early), but the best geographic place to do this research is probably the San Francisco Bay Area. If you live in another country, hop on a jet and eat ramen for 3 months, while you drive (or Uber pool) up and down the 101 for meetings.
  3. Understand what they are using today, what works, what does not work, what they wish that have worked. You should focus on understanding the pains, which are harder to extract from people you meet to learn from, they tend to paint a brighter picture than reality. Try to put monetary value on these pains (Cost of X engineers, 2x shorter sales cycle etc.). It may take you 10–15 meetings to nail the right persona (and it’s good to meet with different personas), but at the 100th meeting you’ll have a very good understanding of the market and the “holes” in it. If you found a big hole, and you can put a plausible $1B or more number on it, you got your “idea”.
  4. This is the time to start building an MVP, to take to market. The nice thing about doing a thorough market research, is that you may as well created your first 5 real customers there. “Remember when we talked about X - I have now started a company around it, would you be interested in buying my MVP”?
  5. Your “idea” will change over time, don’t fall in love with it. The market shifts and changes under your feet, competition emerges, you understand much more about the market when actually trying to sell something. Be laser focused, but listen carefully to your surroundings. Try to increase your focus as you progress - solve a very specific problem, and do it amazingly well.
  6. Tell your idea to as many people as you can. No one will steal it, and it does not matter even if they try to. Execution is at least 99.99% of it.

Good luck! It’s a fun ride.