Ideation Hills

“Get up on those Ideation Hills, where the ideas are flowing freely. Here is where you will develop your thoughts further, looking into various avenues and ideas. Use your creativity to come up with a one-of-a-kind plan for your startup.”

Let’s start with the harsh truth: whatever idea you have, you’re not the first one to think about it. You will not reinvent the wheel, you will not create the next Facebook, instagram or Uber, you will not become a billionaire from your startup idea.

What really is an idea? According to the internet, an idea is any conception existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity. Shortly put, you can have the amazing idea to have donuts for lunch. That is an actual idea. You can have the idea for a new pretzel shop in your neighbourhoold. That is also an actual idea. 

For startups, you’re looking for an innovative idea. Now, the natural next question is: “What is innovation?”

There are a lot of definitions about innovation online. We prefer this one: “The act of introducing something new”. Check out the following presentation on innovation to learn more:

Now we know how an innovative idea looks like and a couple of methods to get to that innovative idea. Let’s get the context of your innovative idea right then. 

You aren’t building in a void, so choose the scale at which you want your startup to operate. You can build an ultra-local, local, regional or global startup. The bigger the scale, the harder to generate the innovative idea. 

Ideally, we would all build global startups, but the truth is some business only work in a region or locally. An accounting startup for example is harder to scale with every new country and reporting system they add. It’s not impossible, but it certainly slows down operations. Choose the scale at which you want to operate first, even if you’re launching in a smaller market initially. That will help you set the right mindset, objectives and ambitions for your future plans.

Ok, enough abstraction. Let’s talk about some of the potential ways to generate ideas. Here is a short presentation that goes through a couple of methods. Whatever you choose to use, keep in mind there are 1000 other ways to come up with ideas, don’t get stuck on one.

Sometimes, to know what we’re doing, we have to understand what we shouldn’t be doing. There are a lot of other startups that have died that could serve as inspiration for your new Frankenstein. Learn from their mistakes, understand where they failed, even talk to their founders to see what they say. Y Combinator, the leading accelerator in the world, has a very interesting video on what they call “Tarpit Ideas”. Check it out right here:

Ok, last step for this stage then: Start generating ideas with the new information you have. Make a list, either in your notebook or in a google doc and write the ideas you’ve generated. We’ve done a startup idea a day challenge to push ourselves into generating new concepts ourselves and it worked wonders, you can check them out below. Come back when you have 10+ ideas written down.

Some awesome website that will help you with the ideation process

AI Ideation Buddy
Y Combinator Startup Directory
TED on how to generate ideas