Best ways to think of ideas for a startup

Best ways to think of ideas for a startup

This approach will help you think of a solid startup idea.

It is broken into 5 steps to facilitate progress through a system that in total should take about 30-40 hours to complete over a week or two if you do it all.

Add rigor and discipline to your brainstorming and idea evaluation process:

Build lists of potential customer types and business or pricing models.
Evaluate the opportunities where these lists overlap.
Then, exit your ivory tower and evaluate the top ideas with real potential users, customers, or suppliers.
This will improve your likelihood of success and waste less time down the road, even if you pivot from your original idea.

Preface: There certainly are simpler answers like, “pick an area that is trending”, “look for a large market that hasn’t changed in 10 years”, or “convert your hobby into a business”. Unfortunately, those aren’t particularly helpful, and since this question comes up often in discussions, I wanted to get my thoughts down in a more comprehensive way. I’m sure Quora will have some good feedback for me :)
Also, while this answer covers the ideation part of the journey, keep in mind that implementing the idea is the hard part.

1. The spontaneous idea: It hits you when you’re in the shower, driving in your car, talking with friends, or doodling during a meeting. The dots suddenly connect in a new way and you have an epiphany...your sudden insight is surprising and exciting, and the value of this new idea seems obvious. You can’t believe nobody else has thought of it before!

So you go online and poke around...and...most of the time it turns out that someone has thought of it before. But, you still might be able to do it you keep thinking about it and a day passes, and you start to realize some problems. You share it with a few trusted friends and get feedback about a lot of things you hadn’t thought of yet (e.g., nobody pays for it, it’s a tiny market, etc.). It could turn out to be a great idea, but you don’t know, you have a good job, and it is uncharted you let the dream slowly die away. Cheer up, that was probably the right decision.

2. The insider idea: Maybe you’ve spent the last 7 years building enterprise software for airlines and you’ve noticed some voids in the product stack or issues with how your company brings it to market. You point these deficiencies out to your bosses, but there are other company priorities and nothing changes. Or, say your company pays vendors a lot of money to do some work, but nobody ever seems happy with the results....and you see a way to do it better for less. Or, maybe you witnessed your company kill an amazing new product or feature not because testing didn’t show user interest, but for political or organizational reasons.

You see an opportunity to do it on your own, so you start moonlighting on a solution. You gather more specific information, talk to trusted co-workers and industry contacts, and determine the viability of solving the problem. The good thing is, you’re already knowledgeable and well-positioned/networked in the business good luck to you!

3. The deliberate idea: In this case, you aren’t starting with a business idea. Instead, you’re starting with a desire to create a new business and become an entrepreneur. You may be ready to quit your job and go for it whole-hog, or just start it on the side of your desk...but you’re looking for the right business idea to pursue (which could be a business related to your work environment or industry, as in #2).

While the first two paths may happen unintentionally, the third is for people who know they want to start a company but don't yet have their idea. If you fall into the third group, then this answer is for you.

Ideation is fun and free, but it is the easy part of the process. Execution of your idea separates the wheat from the chaff and is where most people fail. That said, coming up with the right idea will improve your odds of successful execution. This system will help you do that well.

Here are a few orthodoxies, aka conventional wisdom about the startup Idea:

1. People will never buy things online. 

2. They want to touch and feel of the product.

3. People will never buy shoes online. You have to try it before buying it.

4. People will never buy spectacles online. That is a ridiculous idea.

6.People will never make friends online. Humans make connections when we meet.

7. People will never share their homes with strangers.

8. People will never share their cars with strangers.

9. People will never accept classrooms without live teachers.

10. These things were true for a long time and will always remain true. Just kidding!

Let us see where we stand today.

To state the obvious, startup ideas come from solving some customer pain point. And the biggest ideas involve breaking a major orthodoxy; 

demolishing a ‘universal truth’, which everyone took as a given.

But here is a question: If it is so easy, why don’t people just attack any orthodoxy and build a billion-dollar company?

 Because the orthodoxy exists for a reason, and often multiple ones.

Here is an example. If you have to buy spectacles, you want to see if it fits nicely. You want to know if it looks cool when you cock your head at some special angle. You want to feel it resting on your nose. And so on… This means you have to absolutely visit a store in person to try out various samples and then buy.

So why would a Warby Parker, which sells spectacles online, succeed? They figured out that when you go to a store, you also make tradeoffs. In addition to the time wasted and inconvenience, you get a limited choices at a very high price. So what if they offer you a better selection at amazing prices?

Customer: Hmm… But what about my concerns about ‘the fit being right’?

Warby Parker: Cool - we will help you choose the frame step by step, give you a ton of choices, and offer a free trial at your house with two-way free shipping and return! Now, what do you say to that?

Customer: YES, I am in!

I am not saying that this solution was a slam dunk, but now it looks pretty obvious. However, in the beginning, most people would have told the Warby Parker founders that it won’t work. That was the orthodoxy. But these guys removed the subtle bottlenecks to customer adoption layer by layer, and made it work.

Breaking an orthodoxy is hard, and the barriers to product adoption are very subtle. But once you get there, the reward is big. And at that point, everyone will turn around and say, “Of course, that was obvious!”.

At ConceptOwl, we are working to break the orthodoxy that we need to live teachers in classrooms. I am convinced we don’t. But it is way more complicated than it looks.

Most of us would say ‘for interactivity’, since learning is a two-way process. Well, then why do students go to coaching classes in Kota with 200 students in a room, where asking a question is practically impossible? What about some reputed CA coaching classes, which have 500–600 students in a class? 


One of our major insights was that the biggest benefit of a physical classroom is that it enforces disciplined and distraction free learning. It also enforces a timetable and regularity. But for that, we don’t need teachers. Even a facilitator in a class can ensure that!

This is just one of the insights we gleaned, and now are now rolling out a teacher-less classroom model, where we teach via videos. For resolving doubts, we use remote online instructors.

By breaking the orthodoxy that ‘we need live teachers in a classroom’, we can provide quality science learning to millions of students in rural India.

This is neither the best or the only way to find startup ideas, but I am sharing this in case other entrepreneurs find some value in it.

I hope you like this thought with this article  "Best ways to think of ideas for a startup " if you like to share with your friends !!

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