Finding startup ideas using an unconventional tool: intùiti Creative Cards

We are in the age of the startups: we all have at least one friend who founded one, who is going to found one or who is however an expert about this topic.

The message communicated by the startup community (article by experts, interviews, etc.) is about having good idea, being able to execute them fast with passion and sacrifice, and being ready to scale with bigger and bigger investments.

The typical startupper which we can imagine is young, dynamic, driven by the desire of being arrived, seeing his idea working, and maybe also earning lots of money. In order to reach his goal, he is willing to work day and night without a pause, challenging his boundaries and demonstrating a rare discipline.

When we are looking for an idea for a startup, we have to face the concepts expressed before.

We ask ourselves: «Is this idea successful? Is it disruptive? Is it gonna solve a specific problem? Does it have a precise target? Is the market growing fast enough? How can I make money with it?».

To be completely sure, we already start filling the Business Canvas and imaging the application of the Lean Methodology.

The consequence of this process often seems to block the pursuit of a genuine idea.

We are almost tempted to start “upside down”: from a promising market, for example, or from a target with a well defined common problem. We ask: «What can be successful? What can make money fast?» or we just abandon our first idea as soon as the market refuses it.

But let’s try now to ask ourselves these other questions: «In five years, would I be satisfied to work in this company I’m building? Would I be proud of the product I’m selling? Would I feel fulfilled?». We are not talking about a million dollars exit, but just about self expression.

The question then changes: «What is it driving me to be an entrepreneur? What kind of problem would I love to solve? How would I like to feel when I’ll have it solved?».

The answer is finding an idea which is really worth of working day and night, probably not earning anything for the first year (at least).

Experimentation #1

Giorgio sits in front of me. He already runs a small startup. I place the primary intùitis face up, so that he can see them all. I tell him they will help him finding a good starting point to come up with a new idea for a startup, and I ask him what is his Driver (so what drives him to be an entrepreneur). He answers: «Being free to take my own decisions».

I ask him to forget about that prejudice and to watch the cards. I ask him to choose the one which he feels as his Driver, so the one which could represent the energy that drives him as an entrepreneur. Giorgio chooses the X. Then I ask him to choose other two: first the one which could represent the solution to a solved problem, then the one which represents the problem to be solved.

– Imagine to have already solved the problem — I say, — Tell me which one could make you feel that sensation.

He chooses the XII.

– The XII is the solved problem, alright. Now tell me which one is the Problem.

He chooses the XVI.

– Now try to describe to me what you feel and why you chose these real cards.

– The X makes me think about something self-organising, as if what makes me move is the need of being independent and having continuous and satisfying incentives during the day.

– So this is your Driver. The need of a never-ending incentive.

– The XVI seems to me something too complex. There’s too much trouble, too much chaos. It could be more simple. And the XII makes me feel exactly the sensation of having solved that complication and being finally able to see from a different point of view.

– So the ideal could be to simplify a huge number of complex situations, in order to have a never-ending incentive. Now try to imagine a new startup starting from this concept we just discovered.

– For example an innovative system of work, in which different teams can exchange their resources to work on several problems at the same time.

– And if you should apply it to evolve your current startup?

– We could change the service we offer and transform it in a consultancy for simplifying and making cheaper the phases of prototyping in other companies.

It’s important to see the difference between the prejudice with which Giorgio sat at the table. Moving from: «I wanna be free» to «I wanna have continuos incentives from clients who need to simplify complex problems».

Experimentation #2

Luca has never been an entrepreneur, but lately has thought about it. He sits and we talk about it.

– What could be your Driver?
– To make money. If I’m sure to make money, then I can work day and night like a maniac.

Luca starts from this prejudice: «I wanna be an entrepreneur because I wanna earn a lot of money». I ask him to forget about it for a moment and watch the primary intuitis (always placed on the table). He chooses the VIII as the Driver and the XIII as the Problem to solve.

– Can you describe what you feel when you watch the VIII and thinking of that as your Driver?

– I feel passionate. As if there was a fire inside me and it was impossible to extinguish. Something that is already there.

– And thinking about XIII as the Problem?

– It gives me the idea of something to old which must be renewed. Like a system that doesn’t work anymore. I have obsolete systems.

– It seems that if you wanna be an entrepreneur, the right path should be to follow what you are already passionate about and to solve a connected obsolete system.

– It makes sense now that I think about it.

– What is your passion?

– I play bridge. I’m almost a pro.

– What makes you angry about the obsolete systems of that world?

– The way they teach it.

If Luca opened an innovative bridge school, he would be happy to see it working and would be willing to make sacrifices to scale that concept all over the world. A really different Driver from the first «I wanna make money».

Conclusions and summary

Intùiti can help in the phase of Pre-Creativity. It can find the right field and the right guidelines to start the real process of generation of a genuine idea.

You can proceed placing the primary intuitis face up and choosing:

A) The card we feel that represents our Driver
C) The card which represents the Solved Problem
B) The card which represents the Problem to be solved.

(It’s better to ask first for C and later for B).

Then you can describe aloud why you chose those cards, describing the feelings that each one of them produces when connected to the field in question.

To know more about the study behind intùiti you can download the free e-book from here.

Originally published at on September 8, 2015.