The starting point of every successful startup is the IDEA.
When you come up with the right ideas and execute it aggressively your potential of building multibillion dollar unicorn startups like UBER, Google or Facebook is almost guaranteed.
The good news is that you don’t even need to come up with original ideas or be the first to implement before you can succeed. For example, Google was not the first search engine and Facebook came after MySpace and Hi5 but overtook them to become the biggest social networking site with over 1.5 billion users today. There is a school of thought that the easiest way to find a startup idea that will work is to “steal” what has proven to work, make it better and sell it to the same or different market.
The best example of this model is worth 4 billion USD
The world’s best example of this model are the Sawmer brothers who have built a multi-billion dollar company by simply cloning an idea that works in the West and executing ruthlessly in other parts of the world. From day one, Ollie (Oliver, Rocket Internet’s CEO) knew he wanted to copy other companies. He didn’t care about being original. He only cared about execution and he chose every other location except US and China. Their mission statement says it all:
The Hustle blog published a secret interview that reveals how they have cloned several Silicon Valley startups like eBay, Amazon, Groupon etc. to build their own multi-billion dollar portfolio of startups like Jumia, Carmudi, HelloFood and so on. It also explains how they decide on the choice of startups to copy.
And it has paid off.
Over the years they sold back several of the startups they cloned (e.g Alando; an eBay clone was sold to eBay for 35million pounds just 100 days after it launched and CityDeals to Groupons for $170million, just 5 months post launch) In other cases, they have built their own unicorns like FabFurnish and Zalando.
Do you have to create an original idea?
Like most successful artists or creators, you don’t have to build from scratch. I think that every startup ideas already exists around the world. Key for success isn’t idea but execution. In fact, there is a quote popularized by Steve Jobs that is attributed to Pablo Picasso. It reads: Good artists copy; great artists steal.
I don’t think it matters if the idea already exists. What matters is if your unique implementation of the idea will be used by anyone.
So…How do you get inspirations for the next ideas you want to launch?
Let me answer that by sharing over 11 goldmines of idea vaults and what to do when you finally get one.
11 Incredible Goldmines Of Startup Ideas In 2017
CRUNCHBASE: This is currently the best directory to find ideas. Crunchbase is an offshoot of TechCrunch which is a leading tech blog focused on startups. You can read about startups that are getting funded or acquired and find out what they are doing. Knowing what others did to get funded is an inspiration for what might be OK for you to copy.
You can check the profile of each startup in Crunchbase directory to know more about them. The search function will come in handy for this exercise.
STARTUP DIRECTORIES. Today there are several startups directory sites where people list their startups with the goal to get exposure for their brand and for link building. You can read through and see what the startups say about themselves. Here is a search link you can look up with one of them leading to StartupLister
QUORA is a question-and-answer website where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. It was co-founded by former Facebook employees; Adam D’Angelo and Charlie Cheever. Most of the experts there are startup founders.
You can look through their Quora profiles.
ANGELIST deserves a special mention as a directory for angel investors.
The term angel means individuals or organizations that invest at the early stages of an idea even when it is not yet profitable. This means that the idea should hold a lot of potentials before they invested in it.
Over 75 thousand companies are listed on AngeList.
Like AngeList, VC4Africa is an African focused funders and founders’ directory where you can get profiles of both startups and venture capitalists (VCs) to see what startups they are funding.
TECHNOLOGY BLOGS. Technology blogs that are focused on startups like TechCrunch, Mashable (US and the West), YourStory, INC42 (India) are good places to read reviews and press coverage of established and upcoming startups. For example, TechPointNG’s founders’ table series is focused on StartUp founders and one of such founders has raised money with the exposure received on the site.
CROWFUNDING SITES. The crowdfunding marketplace will be worth $90 billion by 2025. Already $16.2 billion was raised in 2014 on platforms like KickStarter, GoFundMe, IndieGoGo etc. Crowdfunding sites are actually goldmine of ideas. You can see active listings of hot topics that the user base of Kickstarter are excited about and have already funded within the last 30 days here.
Go, take a look at projects that get funded on those platforms and analyze their features.
PATENTS: Expired patents are ideas you can “dust”, improve and explore. You can look up Google for Patents as a starting point.
Building on patents must be taken with caution to avoid lawsuits.
TEDTALK STARTUP – On Ted Talks, there is a category for startup where you can learn a lot from founders about their business and the problems they are trying to solve. Generally, Ted Talks will inspire you to see a problem you can solve.
YOUTUBE VIDEOS – While YouTube does not essentially aggregate startup ideas, there are some YouTube channels you can search for ideas on startup. YouTube will give you a starting point you can use to search for product demos and interview of funders and founders.
Here is one for VoguePay that talks about what they do.
REDDIT AND QUORA– Reddit is the newspaper of the internet. It is broken down to subreddits where discussions take place. On one of such is a specific subreddits, redditors gave away their ideas for free. This is the link to the discussion. Another goldmine collection of ideas on Reddit which is actually hidden is the curated list of Tech products that you will find at the Internet is Beautiful subreddit.
PRODUCT HUNT AND OTHER CURATED IDEA SOURCES:
- People list their new products on ProductHunt to get exposure. One of the interesting collections is the Tech collections.
- TrendHunter is another favourite resource to check for ideas that are hot.
- Two curated repositories of ideas worth checking for their curated lists of startup ideas are – HelloStartup and IdeasWatch. You should check them out.
- Google. Yes, do a google search.
5 Things To Do After You Figured Out Your Idea.
You are expected to have gotten enough ideas or inspirations for your next startup now. However, it is important to know that Ideas alone are not enough to build successful startups; it is just half of the equation.
So, if you hate your 9 to 5 job because it is boring or exerting, the hard truth is that founding a startup is not easy either. The hard truth is that 75% of all startups fail. The odds are clearly against you winning. Hence, one of the hardest decisions for founders is to figure out how to beat the odds.
Let me share 5 helpful steps to help you beat the odds and win.
- You need to constantly achieve product/market fit and iterate the product with market. Here is a case study of a startup that has survived 4 years in the trenches.
- Find out the market advantages of your competitors and leverage that information to outcompete them. You can also literally steal your competitions’ customers legally.
- Have a Plan to launch – Most ideas have failed, thanks to poor launch strategy. You want to avoid that by using this guideline so that you don’t launch to crickets.
- Design metrics that shows you are making progress; not vanity metrics. This can mean revenue numbers, customer acquisition and retention figures etc. This is what you show to investors to pitch for funds for your next rounds if you survive long enough. You can check Tomi Daviee’s template for building a good pitch deck.
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