I've been a big fan of Paul Graham's Y Combinator for a while now. Ryan Junee and his team at Omnisio (Y Combinator Jan-Mar '08) had great things to say about their time at the quasi-incubator. While they haven't yet had their blowout hit from an investment standpoint, Y-Comb alumni firms are quickly becoming names in the social web landscape: Disqus, iminlikewithyou, Justin.tv, and Reddit to name a few.
Now Paul is laying out what he'd like to to have pitched, aptly dubbing his list, "Startup Ideas We'd Like to Fund." It's a refreshing and pretty candid post. Take for example #11 on the list:
11. Web Office apps. We're interested in funding anyone competing with Microsoft desktop software. Obviously this is a rich market, considering how much Microsoft makes from it. A startup that made a tenth as much would be very happy. And a startup that takes on such a project will be helped along by Microsoft itself, who between their increasingly bureaucratic culture and their desire to protect existing desktop revenues will probably do a bad job of building web-based Office variants themselves. Before you try to start a startup doing this, however, you should be prepared to explain why existing web-based Office alternatives haven't taken the world by storm, and how you're going to beat that.
One common theme throughout the list is the need for not only the killer idea complete with its disruptive tendencies, but the ability to identify why it hasn't been done before. It's one thing to spot the market that is rife with bloat, but it's not always so easy to spell out why.
On my end, I'm still looking for startups that fill the 5 Web 2.0 Services I'd Like to See (and I'd acutually pay for.) Though I have to give a nod out to Brian McConnell for pointing me to his firm, worldwidelexcion.org for blog translation services. More on this in another post, but it sounds promising. It is, as he calls it, a "suite of collaborative translation tools for publishers and bloggers that combine machine translation, volunteers (from your readership) and if desired professionals."