I really like this post from TC about Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams' advice for startups. He was recently interviewed at the Web 2.0 Expo and someone asked him about starting up. His answer?
The core thing would be just do something awesome. Try not to get caught up in the echo chamber.
Although very obvious, it's true that most people want to complicate the message and re-invent the wheel–if you will–when it comes to building something new–especially those looking to invest. The question of how your startup will be different sometimes overlooks the essence of the idea. What if the idea isn't totally new, but you've tapped into something the marketplace is missing? Maybe delivering that idea? As Evan says,
A lot of things are evolutionary, and it is easy to get caught up on what the geek subculture thinks. There’s lots of valuable businesses that can be built there, but I think that is where a lot of people tend to spin their wheels, and I’ve been caught up there before. When I’ve had more successful things, I’ve thought, “Back to basics. What do I want? What do I want to see in the world?” And create that.
Awesome can be simple! Oh, and this is a great post about what starting a company is like, via Evan's blog.