Blog Post

Idea is one of the most important pieces of a startup. If your idea is good then there is a chance that you will be able to find success. If idea itself has issue then you are setting yourself up for a failure.

In this blog we will discuss some general principles for finding good ideas. Then we will talk about two ways by which you can find new ideas, and finally end up with common pitfalls. So let's get started.

General principles

1. Idea has to be discovered not "invented". When I say Idea it means underserved needs. Needs are real and are out there. They are stable and will exist for sometime in future. Your job as an entrepreneur is to discover the needs which aren't being served fully. Your job isn't to come up with an imaginary and innovative idea.
Though of course there is a place for imaginative ideas but most successful ideas I have seen are based on real world customer needs. The entrepreneurs just discover the needs and don't create a new need.

2. Do something that is important for the customer. There are many ideas to pursue , but only if you pick up an idea based on an important need of the customer, will the customer care about it. So many startups open every year and 90% shutdown. The biggest reason for that is they do something customers don't care enough about. So first thing first, establish that the need you are working on is "important" for the customer.

3. Mindset shift from problem solver to problem assesor. In our education system we have been taught to solve any problem we are given. We are never taught to assess the quality of the problem itself . In startups this mentality of automatic problem solving can lead to wastage of lot of time and money. General tendency new entrepreneurs have is to build the solution before even assesing the market need. This leads them to make something not many people want. So as an entrepreneur don't be in a rush. If you get an idea, first understand the quality of the problem itself then move towards creating it's solution. 

Two primary methods by which you can get good startup ideas.

a) Find a need which is important but customers aren't happy.  Now since the need is important the customer will obviously be looking for better solutions. Many successful startups have used this method to get ideas. You can read online forums where people complain, observe people, identify your own dissatsfactions.
For example. Uber solved the need for in city transportation. It is an important need and the solutions existing at the time of Uber weren't fulfilling the need properly. The cabs were hard to find, were expensive, not safe, didn't go to all locations. So uber created a much better solution for an Important need and today it's valued at multi billion dollars. Similar method has been used by Zoom, Canva, Slack and so on.

b) Find a new or an overlooked need in the market. New trends are always emerging , the behaviour of people keeps on changing. So if you can identify new trends or needs which have not been identified then you are in a good spot. Since the need is new not many solution would be existing hence there is low competition and there are more chances of success. Example of such startups can be Co-working spaces which have become very common in the last decade or so. Their needs arose with the rise of the entrepreneurs and gig workers as they wanted a place to work from which seemed professional but wasn't too expensive. So somebody indentified this and created co-working spaces. We now know how popular they are (well pandemic kind of disrupted them).


Common Pitfalls

1. Stay away from buzzwords and technology trends. There have been talk of AR/VR , ML/AI for many years now but hardly we have seen any successful startups in these domains. The reason for that is customers don't care about technology they only care about themselves. So when you position yourself as "AI-powered X" you have already lost the plot. These startups are solutions looking for problems, thus they don't necessarily find success.

2. Don't be too attached to your idea. The idea has to evolve as you know more about the need. There is no point of being emotional about the idea. The job of an entrepreneur is to solve for the need of the customer in the best possible way, so if that requires tweaking your idea so be it. Ideas are just starting point and in most cases you will end up with something very different than what you started from.


Startups have 90% failure rate. The idea itself is one of the main reasons. But the reverse is also true. IF the need is somethng which is very important for the customer then nothing can stop you from making your idea a succcess. The customer will pull it away from you. Your main job is find what the customers are desperately looking for, and give them that. Rest all will fall in place.

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