Do you think the time is right for a, no, YOUR ingenious business idea? Are you looking for inspiration and methods to find or develop innovative and promising startup ideas? Then you’ve come to the right place: In this post, we’ll show you seven unconventional methods to find highly creative startup ideas. Let’s go!
Startup ideas as the fundamental basis for success
Groundbreaking, full of ideas, excellent, outstanding, imaginative, original, and creative: these are all synonyms found in the Duden for the adjectives ingenious and innovative. In this respect, a found business idea should be measured against all of these synonyms.
Brainstorming, mind mapping, internet research, and visitor fairs are well-known ways to find business ideas. In this post, we’ll show you a few unusual ways to find ideas for a highly innovative business.
Why startup ideas are very often related to problems
Every entrepreneurial activity starts with an idea, or rather a problem that needs to be solved. We continuously encounter issues in everyday life. If you find a functional product or a highly innovative service for such a situation, you may have discovered an attractive target market.
Of course, this assumes that the problem in question affects not only a tiny target group but as many people as possible. That is the demand-oriented, business basis for a steep growth course.
Innovative, technology-oriented startups are characterized by such or high scalability. It has to focus on the core right from the start and achieve as much as possible with as little financial means as possible.
No matter how brilliant an idea you may find it personally: It will not get you any further if it does not solve a problem, and there is no demand for your solution.
In a highly innovative and competitive environment, in particular, it will be essential to solving a real problem. Otherwise, a business idea can quickly become a bubble, especially since product life cycles have become dramatically shorter.
In this respect, it is advisable to break new ground in the search for startup ideas. It is essential to let creativity run free in methodically controlled paths. Here you have the opportunity to do so using selected examples.
Unconventional and innovative methods to find startup ideas
It pays to break new ground for success. Quite a few founders are visionaries who break with traditional ideas and conventions. The methods presented here will show you that innovative ideas and business models can be found much more comfortable than expected.
The words’ brilliant’ or ‘innovative’ may indicate complexity when referring to a startup idea, but this is not the case. Many of the most innovative startups in recent years are based on an actual ‘simple’ idea.
The genius lies in laying the foundations for rapid growth with the right product design and market entry strategy. Because only if investors recognize this potential in the pitch deck or business plan will they participate financially.
It is essential to understand that startup ideas must be actively developed. You don’t fall from the sky. In most cases, friendly founders such as Steve Jobs have, in addition to a keen sense for trends, strategically planned the business idea and quickly “executed” it.
Ultimately, this is encouraging news for everyone who is supposedly not born with creativity and a feeling for trends. Creativity also requires a systematic approach to ensure a high degree of target focus right from the start.
Seven unconventional ways to find startup ideas
Incidentally, this should also be made unmistakably clear at the beginning: In addition to generating ideas, the willingness and courage to take financial risks must be brought along, to test the business idea on the market, and ultimately to get it on the road. As the founder, you then have to take care of the implementation. What use is the most ingenious idea if, in the end, it doesn’t turn into a functioning business model?
Enough theory for an introduction, now it’s time to introduce innovative methods practically to find startup ideas. Let yourself be inspired by these possibilities and test a plan of your choice to come up with promising business ideas. Here we go!
Method 1: I hate when … or: This problem gets a solution!
This is about the already mentioned solution or problem orientation, which is based on a different hands-on mentality from the founder. Imaginative founders often found themselves confronted with problems in everyday life for which there was no solution (supply gap).
Grabbed by the ingenuity, a solution was quickly sought and diligently worked on. After a particular development phase, the product can be brought onto the market.
Of course, it must be clear right from the start using market data that other people (= customers) are also annoyed by this problem and are looking for a solution. An excellent method for finding out and developing the right solution for an existing problem is, for example, (iterative) product development based on a minimum viable product.
The finished solution now has to be marketed with a broad reach at an attractive price. Ingenuity can be simple and equip familiar things with entirely new functions. For example, the HAPPYPO Po shower makes a standard bidet (including permanent installation in a bathroom) obsolete. One of the top products that the ‘Den of the Lions’ produced.
An ideal method for tinkerers and problem solvers
In this respect, you can start very practically from your everyday life and make a list: I wouldn’t say I like it when … Some ideas quickly arise. For every problem, you can show a proactive solution and, in the end, evaluate the market opportunities.
Of course, as an innovative founder, you should be familiar with the subject. The effective product solution, which was the focus of the pitch in the mentioned program, is the basis for a strong-selling product or service. Innovative and successful founders are ultimately always problem solvers.
What is decisive for this method in business terms? Problem-solving must be highly demand-oriented and needs-oriented. Added value must justify a price that opens up high-profit margins. And ‘I hate when’ quickly becomes ‘I love it’!
Method 2: How startup ideas become painkillers
While method 1 for finding startup ideas focused on problem orientation, the Painkiller approach focuses on strict needs. A look at the market shows that many companies are more likely to promote ‘vitamin A ideas.’ And ‘Vitamin A’ products are friendly to have, but nobody needs them.
Therefore, the business idea inherently limits the growth that should scale as quickly as possible. Anyone who manages to turn a vitamin A product into a painkiller will turn it into a ‘must have’ effect from the customer’s point of view. To be able to achieve this, however, the focus must be consistently on customer needs when generating the startup ideas.
If you want to find a powerful startup idea, you have to ask whether it is a painkiller honestly. As soon as a product has an optional character, it acts as desired, similar to dietary supplements. A suitable method for exploring and analyzing a target group’s needs is, for example, the Value Proposition Canvas.
With vitamin A ideas, users will not have the necessary feeling that they want this product. You can recognize a painkiller with a view to startup ideas by the fact that it exudes a magical attraction. Anyone who ‘only’ starts with a vitamin A idea will, at some point, have to strive for a strategic realignment to steer growth in the targeted dimensions.
Painkiller startup ideas often have the quirk that they enable customers to generate more profits or reduce costs. This can turn out in different ways depending on the type of product, whereby there must always be a high degree of functionality and added value.
If you target a painkiller by generating startup ideas, you will make your startup appear more attractive from customers and investors’ perspective. You can also use this approach at a later point in time to make strategic adjustments or to make the product even more irresistible.
Finally, it should be said: Even in the highly innovative startup area, not every business idea has to be a painkiller immediately.
Method 3: St. Gallen Business Model Navigator with 55 business models
If you want to find new and above all functioning startup ideas, you should deal with this model. In any case, the Business Model Navigator can be regarded as tried and tested because the world’s most successful companies usually fall back on at least one of the 55 business model types that this approach has brought together.
This method’s advantage for generating ideas is that you can use an entire business model as a functional framework. The model describes in four phases and with special techniques how startup ideas can be found and implemented.
At its core, you will use techniques to develop startup ideas based on patterns for a total of 55 business model types. In any case, with this approach, you can methodically implement the brainstorming and generation of ideas and rely on a high degree of practicality.
Because in reality, the business models are demonstrably working. It would help if you mainly dealt with the following key questions:
- WHO is my target group?
- Which BENEFIT PROMISE do we make?
- HOW should the value chain be designed?
- How are VALUES achieved in the business model?
As you can see, the questions encompass both the external and internal dimensions of the business model. You can use the model to pursue three basic strategies: transferring, combining, or repeating. The aim is to share the advantages of business models and types to other areas or implement a combination of benefits.
Selected examples of business model types
Example 1: add-on
The main product is cheap as bait; it can become more expensive and more individual due to features subject to payment (see e.g., the business models of low-cost airlines).
Example 2: Freemium
The freemium model is particularly promising for apps or SaaS businesses. In principle, the basic version of the software or app is free; additional functions must be paid for. In this model, the premium users subsidize the free users.
Example 3: Mass Customization
Off-the-peg individuality has proven to be an increasingly popular business idea in recent years. Customers can customize products, for which efficient internal processes have to be created. Identity has its (perceived) price, and many customers like to dig deeper into their pockets for it ( cf.e.g. deincastle.de )
Method 4: Welcome to the imaginative ‘Startup Idea Matrix.’
How about if a supposedly simple Excel spreadsheet would beam you into a multifaceted world full of promising startup ideas? This notion can become a reality when you dig deeper into the Startup Idea Matrix.
What is this about startup ideas? Entirely only, you can use the freely available spots within the matrix to see in which business areas there is still room for innovative startup ideas.
Even if the presentation with the logos of companies worth billions may seem exaggerated, it is justified, especially since the matrix is very differentiated. To increase the accuracy of your startup ideas from the start, you can fall back on two versions ( B2B or B2C matrix ).
Use the Startup Idea Matrix to generate ideas.
You can look at the lists immediately and start generating ideas. You can use methods 1 and 2 for this. You should especially keep an eye on the free white fields, as there may be U. there is still a lot of market potential.
It is essential to use this economically with creative startup ideas or innovative products. Method 3 can show you which business model is the right one to get started in a particular segment. You can see here that the plans are mutually dependent. So you should see and apply them together to come up with the best startup ideas.
Method 5: “Incubator Espionage”
In the startup world, an incubator is understood to mean institutions that support innovative startups as part of their founding (mostly early stage) and advance them with know-how and, if necessary, resources (time/money). So it is not surprising that the term incubator comes from medicine and means incubator.
As an aspiring founder or startup, if you have already found an idea, then the path is open to you to go to such an incubator. To achieve this, one usually has to apply for a so-called “startup batch.”
Suppose you are finally selected as a startup by the incubator after pitches and presentations. In that case, you go through a program of several months to bring your idea forward together with the incubator.
But if you don’t have an idea yet and want to be inspired by the new ideas and business models currently on the move in the world, a look at the various startup batches of the incubators could be an advantage.
In other words: you could do “incubator espionage” to generate startup ideas. In general, the term espionage should be used positively in this context. The aim is to identify opportunities, ideas, and, if necessary, business models and take them up yourself.
The keyword for innovative startup ideas in this context would probably be Copy-Cat. A rather negative term in the startup scene, as it is often equated with “stealing ideas”. However, it does not necessarily have to be purely stealing startup ideas!
With startup batches, you can contact other founders and their business models in person or through research on the Internet. Who says that one of these business ideas cannot be implemented better than previously thought?
An example of this approach is the Rocket Internet in this country, which has already successfully implemented some businesses in various industries and on several continents to copy business models.
In the end, only one thing counts: Who can implement a business model better and faster than the competition? Survival of the fittest!
Use intelligent espionage for groundbreaking business ideas.
You can get started right away and look at the programs of well-known incubators ( e.g., Techstars, 500 Startups, or Y Combinator ). Just scout the different startups, ideas, and business models.
Some incubators or accelerators also have industry specializations, making the search even more comfortable if you want to start a particular area.
When you attend conferences, meetups, bar camps, or startup weekends, you can also gather valuable contacts, get to know founders and startups, and get to know their ideas. This method is particularly suitable for very innovative startup ideas, as the founders are mostly active in future-oriented and technologically highly developed areas.
Method 6: Digital Dinosaurs – startup ideas with a focus on dusty industries
In the age of the omnipresent Internet, no company can afford to neglect digitization in corporate culture. But the reality is unfortunately different because a vast “implementation backlog” has formed in terms of digitization in many industries.
Decision-makers in smaller companies primarily still think analogously, which means that enormous future and efficiency potentials remain unused. The background to this is that the introduction and use of opportunities in digitization require a corresponding culture.
Such a cultural change has not yet taken place in many industries and management levels. Why go new, unknown paths when the company is (still!) In good shape?
Software-as-a-Service as a solution that digital dinosaurs cannot resist
Do you want to find opportunities and, above all, future-oriented startup ideas? Then go straight to the worthwhile hunt for digital dinosaurs. You only have to identify industries or companies that have a low degree of digitization.
As soon as you have found weaknesses or inefficiencies in processes and value chains, you can develop solutions to digitize business processes intelligently.
If software development is your world anyway, you can let off steam creatively in this area. But what exactly does software-as-a-service mean?
A SaaS solution is an Internet application that solves a specific task for a particular target group or can do it more efficiently and quickly.
So a customer can use an online application that helps them do a specific job, like a kind of service. He pays fees to the company that provides the software for him to use the application.
If this application does not only suit one company or one industry, the basis for high scalability and rapid growth is given right from the start.
Method 7: The “Fiverr Approach” – Digitize and automate manual activities
And here is another method that is essentially Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and ties in with the “Digital Dinosaur” method because the “Fiverr Approach” can help you to identify tasks and activities that were previously carried out manually and to generate ideas for (automated) SaaS solutions from them.
The term “Fiverr Approach” is a word that we derived from a blog post that explains this innovative form of generating ideas in more detail: in his blog post “How I built a profitable SaaS web app: from idea to first sales” on the publishing platform Medium, the entrepreneur Alex Moskovski presents in detail the path he has taken from the first idea to the first sales.
And here’s a tweet he dropped back then:
Moskovski set himself the goal of identifying potential ‘opportunities’ on Fiverr that could be automated. Since he has a weakness for social media marketing and graphic design, he chose the category Digital Marketing -> Social Media Marketing -> Social Content. One type of gig (that’s how offers are called on Fiverr) caught his eye straight away: Social Quotes, i.e., quote graphics for social media.
Do you see the gray number in brackets to the right of each yellow star rating? This is the number of ‘orders,’ i.e., how often an offer has been booked. Moskovski saw a clear opportunity here: a business offering that could be automated to destroy this niche. Yes, the automated creation of social quotes for small businesses.
Quick research showed that quotes are one of the most popular content formats for social media on Fiverr. And not without reason: It can be produced quickly, the components of the images are usually not protected by copyright (e.g., stock photos), and most people just like quotations. Why is that important? Because it is said that social quotes as a format will be in demand for a long time to come.
After all the research, Moskovski was able to formulate a mission statement for his SaaS solution :
“Sell packages of unique quote image content with the client’s branding, tailored for a particular social network.”
This offers an exact added value for users: First of all, they can solve all their problems in the creation and procurement of social media content and, at the same time, advertise their brand with the logo on the quote images. Afterward, Moskovski immediately set about building a minimum viable product for his SaaS service.
In summary, the Fiverr approach is about finding a niche in an already existing and successful product or service and occupying it with a software-as-a-service solution. To identify a place or customer needs, you should take a look at the sales or the reviews.
Unless these are fake, you get a realistic picture of what is already successful but not yet automated or what customers want or what bothers them/they lack. The focus of the software-as-a-service concept is always efficiency-oriented automation. Therefore, the Fiverr approach is ideal for getting started with an MVP, as the Lean Startup Method or Running Lean provides.
Conclusion: A brilliant idea does not automatically turn into business success
In this post, you got to know seven rather unconventional methods to develop new startup ideas. The term generates dynamically describes that it is a process. Good startup ideas don’t fall from the sky. Anyone who wants to find startup ideas has to be flexible, capable of learning, and adapting.
In this respect, the lean startup method fits the high degree of innovation of business ideas as an efficient and cost-saving framework for implementation. It should also have become clear that the seven ways are mutually dependent. There is nothing against using several methods than to use a synthesis for a very promising business idea.
In summary, the methods presented will help you with these focuses to generate promising startup ideas:
- Method 1: Problem orientation in the development of products/services
- Method 2: Customer orientation in the development of products/services
- Method 3: Recourse to functioning business model types to generate startup ideas
- Method 4: Identification of promising gaps in the market for brainstorming
- Method 5: let yourself be inspired by other founders and teams and do it even better yourself
- Method 6: Use the digital backwardness of companies and industries for SaaS concepts
- Method 7: Analyze switching platforms in a customer-oriented manner and develop innovative SaaS solutions from weak points
Evaluation of a business idea with the Business Model Canvas
But nobody should be so naive as to get lost in any business idea. Using one of the presented seven possibilities to find startup ideas does not promise automatic success. Instead, it must be about being able to grasp the potential of a business idea as concretely as possible.
With the Business Model Canvas, you have the option of checking a business idea for plausibility and, if necessary, testing it. This model is also suitable for promoting targeted innovations as a sustainable competitive advantage. However, in a very early phase and for highly innovative products or services, we recommend the running lean method.
Execution is key! Innovative startup ideas alone are not enough.
Nobody has become a visionary founder; the implementation, including consistent planning, is crucial. In this respect, you are only at the very beginning when you have found your startup idea. Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and lay the foundations for success with the right strategic decisions.
In startups, money often decides about success or failure. With the Lean Startup Method or Running Lean, there is an opportunity to get started on the market quickly and without capital. With the right business idea, you have undoubtedly laid the foundations for your innovative startup.
In this sense: Happy Innovating!