Method 1: Start With What Your Team Is Especially Good At

An effective strategy for generating startup ideas involves leveraging the unique strengths, skills, and expertise of your founding team. By capitalizing on your team’s particular talents, you’ll have a competitive advantage that sets your startup apart and increases your chances of success.

Begin by evaluating the collective skills and experiences of your team members. Consider their educational backgrounds, professional history, personal interests, and any specialized knowledge or abilities they may possess. Determine the areas in which your team excels and identify the core competencies that could be instrumental in driving your startup’s success.

Next, brainstorm potential business ideas rooted in these key strengths. Ask yourselves:

What challenges or opportunities exist within our areas of expertise?

How can we apply our unique skillset to solve pressing problems or improve existing solutions?

What industries or markets align with our team’s strengths, and how can we make a meaningful impact?

As you explore these questions, focus on generating ideas that not only capitalize on your team’s talents but also address real market needs. Validate your concepts by conducting market research, gathering feedback from potential customers, and analyzing competitors in the space.

By starting with your team’s strengths, you’ll create a solid foundation for your startup, ensuring that your venture benefits from the unique skills, knowledge, and passion driving your team. This approach not only maximizes your chances of success but also fosters a sense of purpose and commitment within your team, as they work together leveraging their strengths to achieve a shared goal.

Method 2: Start With a Problem You’ve Encountered

Another effective approach to generating startup ideas is by addressing problems that you have personally experienced or witnessed. Tackling an issue that directly affects you or resonates with your experiences can offer unique insights and a strong motivation to successfully resolve the problem.

To identify such issues, pay close attention to your everyday activities and observe any challenges, inefficiencies, or frustrations that arise. Make a habit of documenting these instances and reflecting upon their potential impact. Evaluate your experiences by considering:

Are there tasks that are time-consuming or cumbersome?

Do you frequently encounter inefficiencies, roadblocks, or obstacles in daily routines?

Which aspects of current products or services could be improved?

When evaluating the problems, determine whether they are also experienced by others. Establish their prevalence and potential market demand by conducting market research, discussing the issues with friends or colleagues, and engaging with online communities.

Once you have identified a problem with potential, brainstorm innovative solutions that would address the issue effectively. Consider how your proposed solution could enhance the user experience or eliminate the problem altogether. Collect feedback on your idea, iterate based on insights, and refine your concept until it resonates with your target audience.

By focusing on problems that you have personally encountered, you’ll harness your unique perspective and passion to drive your startup’s problem-solving approach. This connection to the issue can positively influence your business’s trajectory and set the foundation for long-term success.

Method 3: Think of Things You Personally Wish Existed

A creative approach to generating startup ideas is to envision innovative products or services you personally wish existed. By focusing on your own desires and unmet needs, you can tap into unique insights that may reveal potential business opportunities.

Consider moments when you thought, “I wish there was an app for that,” or “if only this product existed, it would make my life so much easier.” These thoughts often stem from personal pain points or gaps in the market that warrant exploration. To gather inspiration, reflect on the following questions:

What products or services would make your daily routines more efficient or enjoyable?

Are there any activities, hobbies, or interests where current offerings fall short or don’t meet your needs?

Have you ever found yourself combining multiple solutions or workarounds to achieve a specific outcome? If so, what are they?

As you ponder these questions, think about whether others might also benefit from what you’re envisioning. Conduct market research to determine the demand for your idea, identify potential competitors, and assess the feasibility of bringing it to fruition.

Throughout the ideation process, be open to iterating and refining your concept based on feedback, emerging technology, or industry trends. By focusing on things you personally wish existed, your startup idea will be rooted in genuine desire, increasing the likelihood of it resonating with your target audience and driving long-term success.

Method 4: Look for Things in the World That Have Changed Recently

Another strategy for generating startup ideas is to examine recent changes in society, technology, or the economy and identify emerging opportunities that these shifts might present. By staying attuned to the evolving landscape and proactively responding to change, you can uncover innovative business concepts that capitalize on newfound needs or untapped markets.

To identify recent changes, consider:

Shifts in consumer behavior

Are people increasingly adopting new habits or preferences? What new needs or desires have emerged as a result?

Technological advancements

Has a recent breakthrough or development created new possibilities for products or services? How can your startup leverage cutting-edge technologies to create innovative solutions?

Regulatory changes

Have any new laws or regulations created unique opportunities or challenges within specific industries? Can your startup offer services or solutions that help businesses adapt to these changes?

Once you’ve identified a recent change with potential, brainstorm ways to take advantage of the opportunity it presents. Determine how your startup can provide value by addressing the emerging needs, capitalizing on the technological advancements, or helping companies navigate regulatory changes.

As you refine your concept, conduct market research to validate demand, assess competition, and uncover any/all additional opportunities that might exist. By keeping a close eye on recent changes in the world and leveraging them as a source of inspiration, your startup idea can emerge as a timely, relevant, and valuable solution that meets the evolving needs of your target market.

Method 5: Look for New Variants of Successful Companies

Examining successful startups or established companies and considering how their business models or core offerings can be adapted, improved, or applied to a different context is an effective method for generating startup ideas. Such an approach allows you to capitalize on proven strategies while adding your unique twist to create a differentiated product or service.

To get started, research successful companies and take note of the following:

Their product or service offerings

Identify key elements that contribute to their success. Can these elements be replicated or improved upon to create a new offering?

Market segments

Study the company’s target audience and consider whether there are other overlooked segments that could benefit from a similar solution tailored specifically to their needs.

Geographical expansion

Observe the company’s market presence and explore the possibility of introducing their successful model to new regions with appropriate adaptations.

Technological advancements

Evaluate whether emerging technologies can be employed to enhance or augment the company’s product or service.

Once you have gathered the necessary insights, brainstorm innovative ways to adapt, improve, or repurpose their business models to address new markets, solve additional problems, or introduce novel capabilities. Test your concept through market research, prototypes, and feedback from potential customers to validate demand, assess competition, and refine your idea.

By examining new variants of successful companies, you can build upon proven strategies while infusing your unique perspective and differentiation to create a compelling startup idea with the potential for success.

Method 6: Talk to People and Ask What Problems They Have

Engaging in conversations with others to learn about the challenges they face in their personal or professional lives is a valuable approach for generating startup ideas. By listening to people’s concerns, you can uncover unmet needs, pain points, and potential opportunities for new products or services that address their problems.

To initiate these conversations, consider the following strategies:

Networking events and conferences

Attend industry-specific gatherings, engage with fellow attendees, and ask them about the difficulties they face in their field. Keep track of recurring themes and patterns to identify potential opportunities.

Online forums and social media platforms

Participate in relevant discussion groups or follow topical hashtags on social media to gain insight into the challenges faced by various communities. Analyze the discussions to spot trends and unaddressed needs.

Customer interviews and surveys

Conduct one-on-one interviews or distribute surveys to potential customers. Pose open-ended questions that encourage respondents to share their struggles and desires related to your area of interest.

As you gather insights from these conversations, analyze the data to identify prevalent issues that may represent profitable business opportunities. Next, brainstorm solutions that specifically address these problems and positively impact the lives of those experiencing them.

By actively listening to people’s concerns and seeking solutions to the problems they face, you’ll develop an empathic, market-informed approach to startup ideation, increasing the likelihood of developing a product or service that genuinely meets the needs of your target audience.

Method 7: Look for Big Industries That Seem Broken

One approach to generating startup ideas is to analyze large industries that appear inefficient, outdated, or ripe for disruption. By examining sectors plagued by high costs, poor customer experiences, or lackluster innovation, you can identify opportunities to introduce more effective solutions and overhaul existing systems.

To begin research industries characterized by the following attributes:


Look for sectors where processes are cumbersome, slow, or unnecessarily complex. These might present opportunities to streamline operations, reduce waste, or increase productivity.

Customer dissatisfaction

Investigate industries with consistently low customer satisfaction ratings, indicating potential areas for improvement.

Limited innovation

Identify sectors that have stagnated, characterized by a lack of meaningful advancements or technological implementation.

After pinpointing a broken industry, analyze its key pain points and assess the underlying causes. Research the current players in the market and determine whether their products or services fall short in addressing these issues. Understanding these shortcomings can guide your ideation process towards uncovering novel solutions that disrupt the status quo.

Next, brainstorm innovative approaches that tackle these pain points, leveraging new technology or developing business models that challenge conventional thinking. Validate your concept through market research, competitor analysis, and feedback from potential customers.

By focusing on broken industries and developing solutions that challenge established norms, your startup idea has the potential to drive meaningful change, capture significant market share, and carve out a successful niche in the market.


Method 1: Start with what your team is especially good at

Method 2: Start with a problem you’ve encountered

Method 3: Think of things you personally wish existed

Method 4: Look for things in the world that have changed recently

Method 5: Look for new variants of successful companies

Method 6: Talk to people and ask what problems they have

Method 7: Look for big industries that seem broken

About the Author: Geoffrey Byers
Geoffrey is one of the world's foremost Designers. He is also a Serial Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, and Mad Scientist. Hypothesis-Driven experimentation is his love language.