How to get Startup ideas - A summary

How to get Startup ideas - A summary
Photo by Per Lööv / Unsplash

This article is a summary of the video I watched from Y Combinator. The video helped me a lot in learning the process of building something that is actually helpful to someone in the world.

Initially, we can see the common mistake we take on building ideas.

Mistake #1 - Believing you need an amazing idea.

  • E.g.s are Google and Facebook, before them there were already applications which worked on the same idea.

Mistake #2 - Jumping into an idea without evaluating if it’s a good one.

  • At least spend couple weeks for evaluating.
  • You might be working months and years on execution, so you need to understand the problem in depth.
  • Think our initial idea as good starting point
  • Companies pivot and morph most of the time. For e.g. Airbnb. Tweaking the initial idea will help you get a product which your customers will pay for.

Mistake #3 - Starting with a solution instead of a problem

  • We think for the problem after having solution. This is called as SIMP (Solution in search of a Problem).
  • Start from problem, then go to solution.

Mistake #4 - Mindset telling there are not many ideas to find

  • If we cannot find any problem, then we haven’t yet finding or solving the problem.
  • Learn how to identify startup.

Idea quality scores

1. Idea quality score determines - How big is this idea ? How big it could be

  • (Score range :  1 → 10)
  • Take existing large companies as examples. e.g.:  Uber will be an example, as they have found there is a gap between cab drivers and the travelers. They started building a solution on this core problems but right now if you see the system they developed right now pave the way for driverless solutions.

2. Founder / Market fit (1 → 10)

Find a founder who worked on the particular field in which the problem is existing. That is, if you have worked on a specific sector for a good enough time, then obviously you are familiar with problems of that area. Then look it as an opportunity.

3. How sure are you that this is solving an acute problem ? (1 → 10)

Make sure the problem is acute, as people would like to pay for your solution.

4. Have a new insight ? (1 → 10)

  1. Whether we need to change a common perception of people. e.g.: Airbnb had this in ideation time that “whether people would like to accommodate a stranger for one night”. Airbnb team invited stranger to themselves and tried, and it worked.

IQS (Idea Quality Scores) = Average score of all four.

Other signs

1. We are making something we personally wanted.

So you have at least the set of problems you are facing, rather than guessing what the user needs.

2. Something that is changed very recently in the world.

If a technology or a product is suddenly emerged, and you can create companion products for those.

e.g.: Pencil support in I-pad created opportunity for creative design applications.

Filters to apply

(Bad reasons to reject startup ideas)

🔴 This is a dangerous concept since it will create a mindset to reject your ideas may be even it is a great one.

Hard to get started.

(aka Schlep blindness). e.g.: stripe

Boring space.

  1. There may be a real problem, but it may be too boring field to solve.

Seems too ambitious


Example is SPACE-X

Too many competitors.

This means there is a problem. e.g: Dropbox started in time of plenty backup software programs but made sure they have some ease of use. That was their drag and drop feature, which was lacking in all other services.

How to generate startup ideas ?

We should notice them organically. We need to prepare our mind to see the problem. If we forcefully sat and try to generate ideas, we mostly think about bad ones.

Organically Identifying startup ideas

  • Know what a good startup idea looks like.
  • Notice what is missing.
  • If we have enough time before starting a startup, it is good to be an expert in something valuable.
  • Work at startup.

Recipes for generating Startup Ideas

Start with what your team is especially good at. Think of the idea in which we will get an unfair advantage with the current privileges.

  • Founder - market fit will be good.
  • How to find ?
  • Check all the things you worked and things that you know more.

Think of things you wish someone would build for you.

  • e.g.: DoorDash (a food delivery startup).
  • Such a necessity for us is service persons.

What would you be excited to work on for 10 years, even if it didn’t succeed ?

e.g.: BOOM - supersonic aircraft company. Founder loved to work in aerospace engineering.

Look for things that have changed in the world recently

Like a

  • new technology
  • a new development
  • a new regulation
  • a new problem in the world (corona)

Plan Grid is such a company which provides an app to generate construction plans in digital instead of paper (for supervisors and engineers). This was possible because Apple created iPad.

5. Find companies that have been successful recently and look for new variants of them

A good example of this is standard cognition. This company is there because Amazon created Amazon Go (Amazon Go: which is an autonomous human-less grocery store, and you don’t need to go to the cashier.)

Standard cognition thought this technology may be required to any other store with good funding. That is what they build.

There is a problem with this recipe because this falls under the category of “Solution In Searching for Problem - SIMP”. So we need to highly skeptical about problem validation and do the solution solve this problem.

  1. Ask people you know for problems they want solved.

This is an interest area where we can talk to different people who work on different industries.

Downside is people may not be good at conveying the exact problem, instead they will be trying to express the ways of solving.

  1. Look for industries that seemed broken

Lend Up is an example. It is a Y Combinator company which is for pay day lending. The team identified the current market is broken, and existing players are scam-my.

Care should be given in learning why the industry is broken, and it is good to be for the founder who worked on that industry.

"Above all for any person, before starting a company please make sure we are solving a problem for a group of people so our primary is  not getting a luxury office or millions of investment."