Start an EA-inspired project

  • Occupation:
    Student, Professional, Retired
  • Time commitment:
    Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration:
    Medium-term, Long-term
  • Familiarity with EA:
    Very Familiar

Do you have an idea for a valuable project? If you’re familiar with the EA space and think your idea is really worthwhile, write up a project proposal to share with domain experts or in certain EA Facebook groups. Then, if the idea still seems promising, get to work!

(If you have an entrepreneurial spirit but need an idea, you might be inspired by this collection of project ideas from EAs, NGOs, and other altruistic thinkers.)

Examples of successful projects in EA cause areas:

  • A public health grad student started a cultured meat research organization when he realized the need to meet growing meat demand without harming more animals.
  • A tech entrepreneur created a mobile money company when he spotted the inefficiencies of the international remittance market between the US and Africa, and the potential he had to save money for some of the world’s poorest people.

To find a project worth starting, learn about people whose problems might be especially valuable to work on. They might need help to improve their own lives (e.g. people living in poverty), or to do work that improves the lives of others (e.g. public health officials). If you've found a group you want to help, your next step is to learn about them in depth -- ideally by talking to them directly (see The Mom Test for advice on doing this well). As you learn about your users and mold your idea to fit their needs, consider publishing your results to the EA Forum so that others can offer feedback on your plan or alternative solutions to the problems you’ve found.

Software tools are some of the easiest products to scale. If you’re considering that option, check out other digital projects EAs have done, such as the statistics application Guesstimate (product and launch story), the decision-making mini-courses of Clearer Thinking, and the task-management system Complice. You can prototype and test demand for your idea using the advice of Sprint or DesignKit.

Once you've settled on an idea, you can find collaborators through Rethink Charity, the EA Entrepreneurship Facebook group, or at an EA Global conference. You can also apply for an EA Grant to fund the project. If your project is going well already, and aims to address a problem in one of these areas, consider appealing to the Open Philanthropy Project for a grant.

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