Do you want to startup in 2022 but don’t have an idea yet? This simple 3- Step framework helped me generate multiple start-up ideas and select one in my generation/ evaluation phase. I hope it’s equally useful for you to generate new ideas from scratch and pick THE ONE that’ll impact millions in 2022!
First off, here are the startup ideas I considered and evaluated deeply before zeroing in on WhiteHat Jr:
- Idea #1 HealthCare Genomics/AI Diagnostic: Collect large sets of Indian gene data and apply Artificial Intelligence models to predictively diagnose healthcare issues and create preventive plans.
- Idea #2: Farm-to-Table Tech: Enable direct access for a rural farmer’s produce to reach an urban consumer on his or her table by eliminating supply chain inefficiencies.
- Idea #3: Natural Foods Membership Service: Create ONE monthly membership service delivering quality organic, natural products at home across all categories by eliminating information asymmetry about “good food/good-for-you” products.
- Idea #4: Live Online Coding/Music/Maths Classes for Kids (eventually WhiteHat Jr): Make Kids Creators for Life with a creative, activity based curriculum and 1:1 individualized attention from a teacher.
How do you generate new ideas so you have plenty of options to evaluate? And how do you pick the ONE? This 3- Step Approach will work for you in every category:
- Step 1: Selective “Power Reading”
- Step 2: Founder-Product Fit
- Step 3: Evaluation– Internal & External
Let’s dive into each step below:
Step 1: Selective “Power Reading”
I felt increasingly irrelevant in my late 30’s, working in legacy companies, right in the middle of the tech revolution. 21 year-old coders in their garage were releasing products in days that we conceptualized over years. So I became obsessed with learning tech and read tech trends widely:
- Books: Example, The Third Wave, The Four, The Inevitable etc.
- News: Example, US Unicorns, India Unicorns, China Unicorns- their models and traction.
- Blogs: Example, Masters of Scale, Paul Graham, Andrew Chen etc.
I read for a concentrated burst of 3 months and made a list of 4 ideas above that I instinctually thought would work as tech startups.
What are you “power reading” about tech in your vertical? Do let me know in the comments and also let me know if you want my recommendations for the best books or blogs for your startup inspiration!
Step 2: Personal Fit Iteration
Next, I iterated these ideas against personal fit on two criteria:
A. Flow: Your peak performance is in a state of “flow”¹ where your work is challenging enough to absorb you fully but not so tough that it overwhelms you daily.
Find flow in your work and you’ll find a vocation for life!
I eliminated Idea #1 Health-Care Genomics/AI from my idea list based on the Flow criteria above. I knew nothing about either AI or Indian Healthcare. The challenge of understanding both new fields while building a real business was interesting, but I knew I’d be overwhelmed in execution.
B. Passion: An average startup takes 7 years from initiation to exit–and consumes your life in this period. Are you so obsessed with your idea that you want to work 10x10x6 (Founder Typical Work-Time: 10 a.m-to-10 p.m, 6 days/week) for 7 years to bring it to life?
I rejected Idea #2 Farm-to-Table Tech using this criteria. I’d spent some of my childhood years on a farm in my native Himalayas so I had some instinctive knowledge of farming but I’d become urbanized over the years. My heart didn’t lift up at the idea of spending 7 years revolutionizing the agriculture supply chain in India.
In contrast, I felt both flow and passion for the WhiteHat Jr “Kids as creators for life” idea. School curriculum was unchanged for 20 years. I wanted kids all over the world, starting with my own kids, to become builders for life early in a world where routine, mechanized tasks would be done by a machine.
3. Evaluation-Internal & External
StartUps follow a Power Law. <10% of StartUps will deliver >80%+ of a fund’s return.
Can your StartUp be THE ONE?
You can evaluate your idea’s “BIG & OBVIOUS” mass appeal using these two approaches:
A) Internal Evaluation: “Magnitude and Depth” Formula
Magnitude: Does your idea touch Millions of users?
Depth: Does it meet a deep, fundamental human need 10x better than the alternative?
I eliminated Idea #3 Natural Foods Membership Service using this evaluation. Access to natural, healthy food was a deep, fundamental human need but was it truly unmet for millions of users around the world? People who were health-conscious had figured out healthy products and any alternative I would create would be more convenient but not 10x better.
The “Kids as Creators” idea, in contrast, had the potential to touch millions of kids around the world–and create a 10x alternative to the unorganized creative/critical thinking hobby space for kids.
B) External: Now, test for actual market appeal by building a zero code prototype immediately
I spoke to my friend in Google about WhiteHat Jr immediately after the internal evaluation.
He said it was too small.
Coincidentally, I had a meeting with a large tech company CEO the next day for a project for Discovery, who I was convinced would “get it”. The CEO said coding for kids was years ahead of its time for India and it would never work.
So I did what I should’ve done the moment the idea had come to me.
I took it to users.
Startups always lie at the edges of systems, not at the center of it. So people’s opinions, even experts, are seldom useful.
I hired a website designer on Upwork, the freelance platform, and created a demo version of the website overnight. Soon after, I contacted a teacher, who ran her own Science classes, and created the first version of a 6-class coding curriculum with her, using Zoom and Scratch.
We were ready for our Beta!
Our low fidelity product took 2 weeks to make from the day of the idea. Do drop me a note in the comments if want to be connected to my Upwork website designer for your prototype.
With a live website, I posted about free trial coding classes for kids on my personal Facebook page. Soon after, we had our first paying customer.
I had a strong intuition then that we could create a category. We just had to replicate the process of finding the one customer at scale.
Your actual prototype timing will vary based on your product. But I’d argue the simplest version of your product, often a zero-code solution, will take a fraction of the time and resources you think it will. You just need to cut off all the superfluous stuff.
“The sculpture is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”- Michaelangelo
How to Get Your Game-Changing StartUp Idea- Summary
Follow this step-by-step framework to identify and evaluate your startup Ownership Idea. Keep searching, keep iterating, keep evaluating, until all your boxes are checked off as below!
|Idea||Selective Reading||Personal Fit-Flow||Personal Fit- Passion||Internal Evaluation||External Evaluation|
|3||Natural Foods Membership||✓||✓||✓||x|
|4||WhiteHat Jr Live Online Creativity for Kids||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
Do let me know in the comments if this was useful-I’d love to see your startups come to life in 2022! And if you found this useful, you will also like this new YT Video (<10 Minutes) on How to Build the Right Team for Your StartUp
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¹ Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: https://amzn.to/34L3q4F