Want Great Startups Ideas? Think On Problems!

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-10-01-53-pmA question I get from time to time is going around “How can you come up with a good idea for a startup?”

It’s the wrong question. In order to get to an answer you do not want to think on a great idea for a startup. Because this won’t lead you in the right path. It might be a cool idea that you and your friends think is wonderful but if it’s not a real problem in the real world, most chances are that people won’t find it useful.

If it’s not useful, you won’t be able to monetize it and build a sustainable business. After all, a startup is a temporary organization in a hunt of scalable, repeatable and profitable business model. So you want to improve your odds in this hunt by identify a common problem.

It’s not only that the better way is to look for problems. It should be a problem that you have.

The very best startup ideas usually contain three aspects:

  1. You (the founder) want to have it. It’s your personal pain point.
  2. You can solve it.
  3. Few others realize that these ideas worth the time and energy to pursue.

It’s the way that Dropbox, Uber, Airbnb, Apple, Google, Facebook began and there are many more examples. Each company is solving a big problem that is growing. Not only that they solve it very well, they are also monetizing their solution in a smart way. 

It’s not about idea but rather problems, right? Let’s see how we can find problems that worth solving.

The “hardwood takes long time to grow” way is the most time consuming but also the most promising path to find a real problem. You need to be a real expert in a domain (e.g. virtual reality, machine learning, cooking etc’). If you are an expert in that field, you will notice these problems along the way.

Another way is to think on problems you have every day, hopefully more than once a day. If you can address them, and it’s a problem that many other got, you just found an idea that might be valuable. There is a still long way to do experiments and find the right product market fit. But if you start from a real problem that is common you are on the right track.

The quick way, find someone who found a problem.

Take you time and do your homework here. It is like finding a significant partner that you are going to spend a lot of time and effort with, so take it slowly and choose carefully the right person with the right skill-set.

Where to find them?

You can find such people at entrepreneurs/developers communities, VCs and accelerators. Another great place is collage or university. If you know them for a long time – It’s much better.


These are the slides that are part of four presentations I did to a course for young entrepreneurs.

The hard part

The catch is that most of the great ideas will look stupid at the beginning.

startup good ideas that look like bad ones

Nevertheless, if you passion about it and you got the grit and execute well – Your odds to make it are going to grow significantly. 

Good luck!


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