5 Takeaways from Hubspot Cofounder’s Framework for Finding Startup Ideas

August 2, 2022
OSF Exclusive

Dharmesh Shah is a one-of-a-kind influencer.

No wonder HubSpot is one of the most successful SaaS platforms on the market.

If you know him, you know that his ideas usually consist of his expertise and his own thoughts - mixed with casual use of language.

Apart from his tone, the way he summarizes his ideas with few words blows me away even though I end up thinking more and more until I lose count of what I’ve thought of.

So, recently, I watched his video, A Simple Framework For Finding The Best Idea For YOU. I probably spent an hour thinking about what he said in two minutes.

In other words, I basically cracked the code of the video and dug deep into each of his three main ideas.

And I’m ready to share them with you.

Here is the first takeaway from the video’s first ten seconds:

1- You MUST have a framework

You can have a plan of your own or adopt a framework from someone you admire.

The main idea is having a framework at all.

Without a base to build your foundation, no matter how great your idea is, you are prone to fail.

A framework of thoughts acts as a guideline for an academic article. No matter how amazing your findings or arguments are, without a proper framework, you won’t be able to go further than “just a good idea.”

Dharmesh’s framework consists of three main ideas:

  1. A good idea must have potential
  2. A good idea must be probable
  3. A good idea has proximity.

And here are the details:

2- The potential of an idea can’t be measured only by profitability

The potential of an idea.

What do you think the potential of your idea is?

I don’t know the answer myself since it’s up to you, but I can tell you what it’s not:

  • It is not how much money you will earn through it,
  • It is not how much respect you will gain with it,
  • It is not how many customers the idea is likely to bring.

The potential of an idea is about “how big could it be.”

Of course, the profitability of an idea is important - as long as you don’t make profitability the only measure of success.

As long as the idea has some place in the market, you should start thinking about other things instead of sticking to the dollars and numbers.

Here is the second of those:

3- You shouldn’t mix potential with probability

Let me clearly explain what potential and probability mean:

Potential is the existence of the possibility to become a giant in the market.

Probability is the ratio of how likely this is to happen.

If you believe your idea has the potential to lead the market, then now it’s time to determine how probable this is to happen.

And I said that the lack of high potential shouldn’t stop you, right?

The same goes for probability:

4- The probability of an idea isn’t the only indicator of success

Let’s look at two different scenarios:

  1. Your idea is likely to have a place in the market, but the chances are low, and you will have to work really hard. Would you take the risk?
  2. Your idea isn’t likely to work, but it can quickly become the best if it does. Do you think that it’s worth the risk?

Neither Dharmesh nor I think that every single idea is formed and forged that way. Of course, there are going to be ideas that are on the safe side of the spectrum.

But if it isn’t, there is still one factor that can eliminate a negative one:

5- Don’t do it if you won’t love it

The proximity of an idea is the deal-breaker when it comes to execution.

The proximity of an idea is how close it is to your heart.

How bad do you want it to be?

How much did you think of this idea?

How much risk are you willing to take?

The answer to these questions, along with a balanced potential/probability ratio and clear calculations, will guarantee you success in the long run.

The Three Ps of Finding an idea - Does it actually work?

Dharmesh is a 54-year-old person who you wouldn’t expect to be tech-savvy, but is the founder of many startup companies - one being HubSpot.

In other words, he is an brilliant man whom we can learn a lot from.

The three Ps - Potential, Probability, and Proximity - isn’t a written rule taught in college, but it comes from a man who is living proof that it works.