Today, I got a chance to meet a very impressive entrepreneur, and I learned a new way to find a great idea.
John-Thomas Marino was a software engineer when he and his co-worker Daehee Park decided that they wanted to start a company. But rather than just build an app, they took a very different approach: The Hate List.
JT was a newlywed, and had recently spent $3,200 on a Tempurpedic mattress (the same one that I, alas, also spent thousands of dollars on). He didn't like the buying process--or the price tag--and decided to figure out if there was a better way.
So he and Daehee assembled a Hate List by brainstorming all the things that they hated about buying mattresses. They then set out to fix all those problems.
The result is their current startup, Tuft and Needle, which makes high-quality foam mattresses and sells them for a fraction of the cost of the traditional mattress makers. A Tuft and Needle queen-sized mattress is just $399 and the shipping is free.
Despite having just started selling mattresses last year, Tuft and Needle has the #1 ranked mattress on Amazon, and the #6 seller in mattress sets. Not bad for a bootstrapped, profitable company that makes all its products in California.
Buying a mattress is just one of a legion of pretty universal activities that suck. Pick your own, make a hate list, and figure out how you can overturn the industry. As a bonus, you'll be reducing the amount of hate in the world.