How to find your startup idea 💡

“I don’t have an idea, but I want to start my company.” That is what I hear every week from students joining the entrepreneurship club of my university. It’s actually quite easy to find an idea. The real challenge is how do you execute on that idea to develop a sustainable business.

First things first, you need to find a problem that matters, not an idea.

Every project should be based on solving a problem that a certain community is living. Facebook is solving the problem of connectivity between your peers. Kayak is a solution to easily and quickly book airline tickets. Airbnb is helping travelers that need a place to sleep and feel at home.

Even Kayak’s website title is quite explicit 👋

Sure, some of them are harder to explain (Snapchat, Instagram, Candy Crush… mostly entertainment apps and social media) but you get the idea — finding a problem that matters is the foundation of your project. And here are small tricks I use to find new ideas:

  1. Be inspired by your everyday life. Think of your daily routine and what’s annoying you the most. You can now make a list of the top-3 problems you encountered every day. Do not hesitate to write the most awkward ones.
  2. Turn a feature into a standalone product. Look at your favorite apps, websites or services you’re using — is there something you could improve on them? I strongly invite you to look at Product Hunt — you’ll discover crazy projects every day.
  3. Go to hackathons & Startup Weekends. You get to learn, experience, collaborate and listen to great ideas. Plus, it’s a good way to find potential co-founders. Time to solve one of your top-3 daily problems!
  4. Follow inspiring influencers. I follow TheFamily, especially Ousamma Ammar; Gary Vaynerchuk every morning; Simon Sinek and I’m watching a LOT of TED Talks. Find the ones whose mindset will resonate with your beliefs and inspire you.
  5. Talk to people outside of your circle of influence. For most people, our network is constrained within a microscopic “niche” of people and that’s a barrier for your inspiration. It’s so interesting to understand a new perspective on our world and very insightful. Ask them the top-3 problems they encountered today for instance!

What is truly important is to keep documenting and updating your list of ideas. Don’t be foolish, most of them are bad ideas. With time, you’ll iterate on it, update it, delete part of it, and at the end of the day, you’ll probably find something worth digging.

Mark my words — this is the very very very first step of building a startup but definitely the one where most individuals stop. Having an idea is great, but it has to come with execution, or it’s worth nothing.

3… 2… 1… Go! 🚀

Ammar’s (long) talk on how to find a problem that matters (in French only ✌️)