After I graduated last year, I evaluated different startup ideas for a few months. Here's a list of ideas I ultimately didn't end up pursuing, with varying levels of research and prototyping.  

A few personal requirements besides the generic evaluation set that I set for myself:

PaaS – Every infrastructure engineer wants to build a PaaS – it's a generic problem and something that many engineers can create a show-stopping happy path. I've spent a lot of time building the pieces (CI/CD, developer tools, Kubernetes, containers). Companies in the space have done reasonably well (Railway, Render, Fly), and Heroku's free tier sunsetting has created some tailwinds of migrating customers. In addition, remote developer environments (Codespaces, Coder, Gitpod) might unlock some interesting PaaS workflows.

Some of the writing that came out of this discovery process: AWS is Not a Dumb Pipe, and Why Did Heroku Fail?

Agentless data observability platformAll DevOps companies are observability companies. Data pipelines will always be fragile (M:N connectors), so observability is an acute need. Saturated market, but most products are designed by data analysts (rather than DevOps engineers). Take best practices from Kubernetes observability and eBPF monitoring and put them in the data stack.

Machine Learning Infrastructure – There are many parts of the machine learning stack to build, from core infrastructure to developer tooling. I worked on distributed training and inference infrastructure at Google and had some ideas for improving it. I also believe that MLOps/DevOps will converge rather than diverge. LLMs didn't exist then, but it shows how quickly this market changes and how much remains to be built.

Next-generation spreadsheet for building internal tools: Taking what Figma did for design and doing it for spreadsheets. After seeing how edge runtimes and functions-as-a-service fit into the infrastructure stack, what would it look like to embed them in a function-native UI, the spreadsheet? For example, I had a prototype of hooking up Excel to Kubernetes in 2018 and saw how easy it was to build declarative systems that leveraged the calculation graph.

Some companies ultimately launched Figma-like next-generation connected spreadsheets (Equals, Rows, Casual). However, these companies struggled to find the right market to start with, and I thought internal tool builders (Dynaboard, Retool) was an exciting and decent business to explore.

Some other ideas: