There’s a lot of buzzwords you might come across for the first time in this course. The first is Ideation.
What is Ideation
Quite simply, ideation is the act of coming up with ideas. It typically does go a little further than this though, being commonly used as part of Mind Mapping or Analysis.
How do I come up with the idea?
It’s important to understand that very few ideas are truly new or unique. Most unicorns or start ups actually take an existing idea and improve it. Don’t believe me?
FaceBook. One of the more famous start ups, it is often thought of as the original Social Media platform, but how much of the idea was new? The original platform was basically a dating app that rated you based on looks but quickly morphed into a Student targeted invite only social ‘wall’. The interesting bits for me here are that FaceBook in this form was incredibly similar to existing Social Media companies like MySpace, so arguably not new and if we take the original ideas and look at them today – how much of the original idea is even left?
All good business ideas share a simple principle – pain. Frustration. Annoyance. Obviously not causing it, but removing it from the process. Look at Uber, they saw how hard it could be to get a taxi sometimes, so they made the process easier to use with live data, pricing and real time updates. Look at WhatsApp, they saw the need for a simple and secure communication tool that wasn’t to traditional communication infrastructure (texts), so they made it happen.
Now, fast forward to your idea. The important word there is YOUR. For me, this is the most important bit in a start up. Start ups are hard. Crazy hard. According to Forbes, 90% of start ups will fail. So what is the magic ingrediant that takes your Start up all the way? You. You are 100% of the reason your start up can be amazing. You will need to be able to challenge everything you knew about business, learn things you didn’t know existed, fail, fail again and fail again and get up again every time.
So why am I pressing this point when we’re talking about business ideas? Make it personal. Make it a problem YOU want to solve. Make is something YOU want to work on. This makes it much more likely that you will be able to turn your business into something that you love.
Finding your Pain Point
So how do we go about finding our pain points? Often it is a bit tricky. Try sticking with what you know. What frustrates you? What would make your life easier? Save you time? Demystify something that you know is important but don’t really get?
I’ve seen people approach this in lots of different ways, but the most common one is to keep a journal. For a couple of weeks, every time you do something that you think took a while, note it down. Every time something annoys you, note it down. Every time you have that epiphany on the toilet, note it down. Within a couple of weeks you should have at least a few nuggets of unrefined gold that you can start to work on.
What’s our Idea then?
For me, there were two factors that influenced by start up idea. Firstly, I have worked in some old school businesses from Retail to Banking and most recently Parking and can see how I can make something in those areas that would make the whole process easier. Secondly, I need to work with an idea that I can monetize.
Monetization is something we haven’t talked about yet but it is super critical to early Road Map and vision. I know this, because my first start up failed and this was down primarily to not having a clear way of monetizing the product without destroying the Vision. It’s easier to get caught up in Free Apps not realising that the company is making money off of the data that you’re sharing with them and this aspect of Data Mining is becoming increasingly controversial as years go on.
For this reason, I am going to stick with what I know and make a prototype model for a cloud based parking company. To be clear – this is going to be a new product made from the start for the cloud. I will not be using or talking about any prior products I’ve worked with. I will however, show you how to do market research on various parts of the process, so we may end up talking about some of those products that are in the public domain.