Startup Playbook

Brainstorming Techniques for a Startup Idea

1.Method of Negation

Sometimes the wrong answers may turn out to be the right ones. A simple method to brainstorm for a startup idea is thinking in the opposite direction. An example is pole vaulting. Back in the 60’s, they used to jump with their stomachs towards the bars, then someone thought of doing the jump backward. And Voila!, people discovered that jumping backward was a more efficient way of doing it.

2. Prototyping Simple Ideas

Prototyping automatically takes you through a beautiful journey of Brainstorming a Startup Idea. Just ‘Thinking Up Ideas for a Startup’ is outright overrated. During prototyping, you go through several stages of research, surveying, demo’s and therefore gather important feedback and new insights into the idea you set out to do. Thus revising your hypothesis over and over again. But be careful and avoid the pipeline system where the ideas keep moving on and new ones keep moving in to sway you away from yours.

3. The Idea Hexagon (Recommended)


This is a method developed by the people at MIT. Watch this video to understand more

  • Xd : Extend the idea to the next Dimension.  Eg: Flicker for photos to YouTube for Videos
  • X+Y : Mix Dissimilar ideas. Eg: Print + 3D modelling -> 3D Printing, Economics + Mathematics = Game Theory
  • X- : Do the opposite. Eg: Coloured to Black and White, Reverse Auctions
  • Xup : Take a Solution and find problems. Eg: Mobile phone is a solution, Navigation was a problem solved by Google Maps on mobile.
  • Xdown : Given a problem, find other solutions. Eg: Apps in the App store. So many Fitness Apps!
  • X++ : Make an existing product faster, better, cheaper…. Eg: Really??

4. Experience

Most of the ideas for a startup that have made it big came up during people’s routine lives and work. They either tried to solve a problem to make their and everyone’s life easier or just thought of a fun way of doing things. Experience your life in a more rich and immersive way, be more observant and aware! You never know, the inspiration for the right idea might be in front of you. Remember – Opportunities are all around us, all the time!

5. See what’s Trending

When the Gold Rush happened everyone jumped into mining gold.  The people who made the real money, however, were those that sold shovels.  Look for “shovel markets”.  You can use Google Trends to find the gold markets, and then your brain to think of the shovel market that goes with the gold.

6. Copy, Colour, Improve, Repeat

“Get Inspired”, so to say! Find an awesome ‘growing’ product, study the concept, color it so that it looks slightly different, think of new features, fixes that the concept needs, redo till you’re satisfied enough to execute.

7. Find a Problem and Fix it

Look at the problems that you or people around you are facing, and now go scratch that startup itch! Once you have identified the problem, focus on how to solve it the best you can. Interview people and ask them for feedback or how else they would have done it (which can be a completely new idea) Do it now, do it fast, otherwise, someone else will come around and do it. So, look for problems not ideas.

8. Analyze your Strengths

Analyze what specific skill set, resources, connections you have that makes you unique and what can be built with it. Execution is the Key to a successful startup. Having an idea and not having the resources to execute will take you nowhere, but utilizing the resources at hand gives you the most ‘unfair sustainable advantage’ in the startup world.

9. Inside Information

You know someone who sees an opportunity to do something but is too busy to do something about it. What do you do? You moonlight them, get specific information, review with colleagues, friends, and experts in that field. And you have a successful business idea.

10.Transfer of Concepts

Life’s underlying concepts of good and bad are used everywhere – games, movies, books. Both Star wars and Star Trek have aliens, spaceships, planets. LinkedIn is a Social Network for Professions, and Facebook for friends. Find a concept and see where else in the world it fits in.




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