- 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 project that would be valuable to do? Do you have time to spare and an entrepreneurial flare? If you’re really familiar with the EA space and think your idea is really worthwhile, write up a project proposal to share with domain experts or in the relevant EA Facebook groups. Then, throw some elbow grease behind the project and try to get it off the ground! There are many ideas EAs have generated for projects one could run; you’re well off drawing inspiration from one of those.
For example, a public health grad student started a cultured meat research organization when he realized the need to meet growing meat demand by some other means, and the suffering it could spare animals if it displaced animal meat consumption. 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 the problems of people important to EA aims. The first stage in starting a startup is usually to go out and talk to potential customers to understand their problems in depth. There are customers who we care about solving their problems because that would in itself be high impact (poor people, ill people) or because they do important work (public health officials, scientists, international development NGOs). This learning-about-customers process could be a standalone project that is then published to the EA Forum and then other people can spot whether they might be able to solve these problems. The Mom Test is a useful how-to guide for doing this. (h/t Richard Batty)
You may find that a compelling product might be a software tool. Check out other projects EAs have done along these lines, such as stats software Guesstimate (product and launch story), decision-making mini-courses Clearer Thinking, and task-management system Complice. Then prototype and test demand for your idea, using the advice of Sprint or DesignKit. (h/t Richard Batty)
To get your project going, find collaborators through Rethink Charity, the EA Entrepreneurship Facebook group, or at an EA Global conference. If you have an idea and a team (and ideally some track record), apply for an EA Grant to fund the project or free up your time to work on it. If your project is going well, consider applying to Y Combinator or the Norrsken Foundation, startup accelerators in the San Francisco Bay Area and Stockholm, respectively. They provide structure, financial support, and growth opportunities to impact-oriented, up-and-coming entrepreneurs. If the project is going well and is in one of a few specific intervention areas, consider appealing to the Open Philanthropy Project for a grant.