How To Find Startup Ideas
I recently have met a number of people who expressed how badly they wanted to do a startup but said they lacked any good ideas. I know that startup ideas are worthless, especially since I have lived through the dozens of iterations involved, first with EffectCheck and now with Curvio. Nevertheless, you need to start somewhere and that means you need an idea that sufficiently captivates you. Now, I could simply give these people a list of startup ideas, but for an idea to really stick in your mind enough that you’ll want to start a company around it, you need to come up with it yourself.
I’ve come up with a brief collection of strategies that you can use to generate new ideas for startups:
Encourage people in a community to generate data that would otherwise be less structured or available.
Examples: StackOverflow (programming Q/A), reddit (social news), Curvio (IMDB for products and apparel)
Applying the Strategies
One important thing to remember is that these are not meant to be options that you choose at the start. Rather, consider each of these strategies to be a background process that runs continuously in your mind. Every time you encounter a problem, if it may be solvable by one of these strategies, that’s a potential startup idea!
When you have such an idea, write it down. It doesn’t have to scale or be clear how you’ll monetize, it’s just important that you finish the thought. I typically send myself an email with the subject prefix “Startup Idea: ” and a brief synopsis of the idea. This process helps ensure your mind offloads the mental weight of the idea so it can move on, either to generating the next idea or exploring the current one further.
Also, don’t feel that these are discrete categories of startups. Most startups have some element of more than one strategy. For instance, I listed my startup Curvio in Catalzye, but it also has elements of Digitize, Repurpose, and Connect. The strategies are just there to give you a foothold to begin thinking about how to discover and attack a problem.
Hopefully after reading this, those of you with “startup block” may find some inspiration. Remember, though, the idea is just the very start. Each idea you have will likely be twisted, contorted, and maybe even discarded once you start gathering user metrics and getting customer feedback. So don’t over-analyze it: take the little idea you generated and just do it. If you need help launching your minimum viable product, here’s a list of tools I found helpful the first time. You’ll soon discover that finding and building your idea was the easy part.