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How to find innovative ideas for startups
Reading time: 8 minutes
Updated 29 January 2024

How to find innovative ideas for startups

Have you decided to go on your own and, now that you have completed the self-assessment process, have you come to the conclusion that this is the right time to change your life? Now you just have to find the winning idea for your startup.

But what is a startup really and how do you find this winning idea? A startup is a newly born company, equipped (at least initially) with limited capital availability, which stands out for its high level of innovation, wide growth potential and above-average production expandability.

Before getting to the heart of the matter, let’s immediately start clearing the field of some possible misunderstandings on how to find ideas for a startup: your business idea does not necessarily have to be new or revolutionary, but it must be able to respond effectively to a problem and satisfy a need in the best possible way. Not only that: to be truly successful, the idea must be feasible and achievable, it must be performed at its best and, if needed, it must be perfected over time.

Now let’s see, more specifically, where and how to find ideas for your startup.


How to find a good idea for a startup?

Nobody knows and can say with certainty, first, if a business idea will be successful; some insights, however, are more likely to be successful than others.

The first rule for finding a good idea for a startup is suggested by Paul Graham, co-founder of Viaweb (later bought by Yahoo) and Y Combinator:

” The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems”.

Often, those who think about how to find ideas for startups start from the solution and not from the problem. A solution without a problem to be solved, however, soon turns out to be useless: you must always keep in mind, in fact, that you are looking for an idea for a product or service to sell and, therefore, you must have customers who they really need what you thought of offering. To be clearer, they must have a problem that you will be able to solve sooner and better than others.

To begin with, you can start thinking about your personal customer experience, because it’s important to make something that you would like someone else to build for you and that you would like to have personally. Have you ever been unable to buy a product or enjoy a service that you really needed? This may have essentially been due to two problems: the market had an actual gap linked to the absence of a specific product or service dedicated to your precise need or the products or services available at that time were not up to your expectations. . In both cases, thinking about this aspect, you can identify a possible area in which to intervene, filling a gap or improving the existing market offer.

This, however, is only the first step: to find innovative ideas for your startup you have to thoroughly analyze the market and you have to study how the competition moves. Another crucial step is the checklist, a practical tool useful for evaluating the goodness of your business project in a more concrete way. But let’s proceed in order.


Analyze the market

Aiming to solve a problem and/or improve an existing product or service on the market is the right strategy to set up your own business and successfully start your startup. Analyzing the current market is therefore essential.

As mentioned, you can start from your personal experience as a customer but the next mental step involves broadening your horizon very soon: the market, in fact, is made up of several people who, however, at a precise moment, may have similar needs and requests.

Understanding what interests people most and intercepting the new trends in the sector in which your startup could debut will be very useful. To do this, you have various inputs at your disposal, from online media to specialized magazines: let yourself be guided by your curiosity in this exciting hunt for the smallest detail useful to clarify how to find ideas for your startup.

But don’t just read or observe: ask questions, compare different opinions and discuss your intuition with who, in the future, could become your customer. All of this will help you structure your idea even more completely.


Study the competition

The aforementioned market analysis cannot ignore the study of the competition: it is necessary that you know who your potential “rivals” are and how they face (or do not face) the problem you intend to propose the solution to.

By doing so, you can understand more clearly what aspects of the market are currently not covered by the products and services already available and what you are able to offer truly unique to your customers, but also what are the most recent changes and future trends in the market.

Remember not to be frightened by the success of a potential competitor: their success can turn out to be a great business opportunity for you. In your reasoning on how to find ideas for your startup, in fact, you can also start by considering a small but significant variant of what a successful company already proposes. At the same time, you can also take advantage of the way in which that company has changed the world (or even just its sector), intercepting the new needs it generates in customers.

The “easier” path, of course, is to identify the sectors most in difficulty. However, set aside the temptation to look for a market without competitors: very often, in fact, the reason for which there are no competitors is linked to the fact that the product or service you have thought of creating does not respond to a real need of your potential clientele.

The ideal situation, however, as already pointed out, is to open your business in a market already covered by other companies, but not completely.

If you have decided to start your own business by abandoning a stable job as an employee, as well as on the potential competition you can turn your attention to your previous professional experiences: thinking about everything you have learned can help you identify new needs and will make you clearer the way you can satisfy them.


Make a checklist

If you have already thought about a possible idea for your startup, now is the time to compile the checklist, in order to evaluate the potential success of that intuition. Specifically, it must meet specific criteria, listed below:

  • fills a gap in the market by offering a product or service that is not already present in it;
  • innovates, responding to customer needs more effectively than products or services already available on the market;
  • challenges existing alternatives, questioning existing approaches and offering new scenarios;
  • stands out, proposing a different solution than what already exists;
  • serves a growing market, responding to a demand that is expected to remain so for a long period of time;
  • has a purpose, ie it responds to a need or contributes to an important cause for the client;
  • satisfies customer expectations, successfully fulfilling the expectations placed on the product or service;
  • offers a good quality/price ratio, thus ensuring an economic benefit to customers;
  • allows growth, that is, it allows the product or service to be supplied on an increasing scale with a proportional reduction in the associated costs;
  • take advantage of your strengths, that is, your qualities and skills.


Ideas for innovative startups in 2022

Covid-19 has revolutionized people’s lifestyles, habits, needs and desires and, therefore, you cannot ignore this in your search for innovative ideas for startups in 2022. Not surprisingly, as evidenced by the huge technological investments for the design and implementation of vaccines against Sars-CoV-2, the life science sector is considered to be the most expanding in this period.

Another area in which, at the moment, the greatest investments are being concentrated is that of the Internet of Things, especially with regard to 5G and 6G connections.

The most popular word today among those involved in technological innovation is, however, probably metaverse. This new virtual universe, allowing interactions between users beyond the physical world, has introduced new ways of selling goods, products and / or services but also new opportunities for those who want to organize events.

In recent months, moreover, there is also talk of NFT (Non-Fungible-Token) with great insistence. This certificate saved on the blockchain that certifies the ownership of a unique digital work has already revolutionized the world of art but is a candidate to have a significant impact on any area related to collecting.

Even in the light of this brief overview, it will now be clear to you that you are spoiled for choice among the various trends of the moment. Not only that: you also have the opportunity to learn from those who have already managed to start winning businesses.


10 case studies to draw inspiration from

In Italy too, in recent years, there is no lack of examples of successful startups from which to draw inspiration for innovative ideas. Most of them concern products or services that have managed to make people’s daily lives easier.

This is the case, for example, of Cortilia, an ecommerce with a short supply chain where you can buy and receive fresh national and local excellences of controlled origin at home, from fruit to vegetables, from cheeses to meats, passing through wines.

Musement, on the other hand, allows you to better organize your visit to a city by being able to enjoy museums and other cultural events, reducing costs and avoiding long queues.

Viaggiart also helps you to better organize your cultural visit: you have all the works of art inside your smartphone and you can find out about the various tourist opportunities.

Lovli has been designed for lovers of designer design, where you can find pieces of furniture at competitive prices, without leaving home.

Artrooms, on the other hand, has made a virtual exhibition space available to emerging artists to make themselves known and sell their works.

We have just talked about long queues: TuPassi, through a precise online registration system, allows you to avoid queues in doctors’ offices, at public office counters and in other moments of daily life.

Scloby, on the other hand, is a startup designed to say goodbye to queues at the checkout: it transforms the cash register from a physical instrument into a virtual space shared by all employees.

The best startups are also those that represent authentic revolutions in apparently niche areas: the Apulian startup Blackshape designs and manufactures two-seater airplanes for sports and training, using a very light carbon fiber that makes its products faster and more resistant.

Biomed, a startup in the medical sector, deals with machines for gastroscopy, which are specialized in the real-time analysis of gastric juices and in the rapid identification of any bacteria, tumors and other potential risk factors.

Offering the best solution to a common, yet unsolved problem, remember, is the mantra that must guide your thinking on how to come up with startup ideas. The example of Le Cicogne is, in this sense, emblematic: this startup, in fact, was created to put new parents in contact with those who offer babysitting, babytaxi and babyparty services.

Nicola Zanetti

Founder B-PlanNow® | Startup mentor | Startup consulting & marketing strategist | Leading startup to scaleup | Private angel investor | Ecommerce Manager | Professional trainer | Book writer

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