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May 31, 2015

How to Start: Idea Generation

Let's take one step back... the very first step, long before you're trying to raise your fund to investors.


You need to have a viable IDEA for your startup.


First of all, not all ideas are worth following up. Business ideas worth pursuing, in our opinion, have these characteristics:


  • it can last for 20 years

  • it can create 500 jobs

  • it can change the lives of 1 million people


But, how to find ideas?


There's a good practise that we do in Founder's Institute Jakarta (courtesy of our own @andyzain) to generate ideas, we called it Ideation Workshop (of course). It actually follows one of design thinking approach: divergent-convergent thinking. There are 5 steps.


Step 1. Brainstorm - aim to get 25 ideas at least. Why? Because at this point you need to explore your options and not be fixated to one idea.


List down business ideas that comes from:


  • Passion

  • Anger

  • Curiosity


In brainstorming, apply the usual techniques: e.g. defer judgement, build upon the previous ideas, be wild.


Step 2. Evaluate - try to shortlist your ideas (aim to get 10), the key criteria is whether you will obsess over that idea for years to come. The idea should match your personality.


Step 3. Research (aim to get down to 3-5 ideas after this step) - now let's get some data points from the market... find out about a similar companies/initiatives:


  • Who failed?

  • Who succeeded?

  • Is it really needed?


If no one did it before, then question your ideas! If too many people fails, also question your ideas, can you make it succeed this time?


Step 4. Discuss - and try to get out of the building and talk to potential customers. This is where you collect external views about your idea. Our benchmark is to have a survey of:


For B2C co's: survey 500 customers and conduct 25 interviews


For B2B co's: meet 20 domain experts, 10 businesses, try to pitch and get 3 Letter of Intents


Step 5. Kill - by now you'll know the ideas that don't get enough traction in previous step... Kill them. Choose one that is promising, and pursue it to the max!


Try this next time you want to build something. What are you waiting for?


(featured photo by Mark Sebastian - licensed under Creative Common CC BY-SA 2.0)


About Founder Institute Jakarta (JKTFI)


JKTFI aims to improve the rate of startup success by providing potential entrepreneurs with mentor support, critical objective feedback & peer support.

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