How To Ideate: The First Step Towards Becoming An Entrepreneur

Which is the most startling part when you read about an entrepreneur who has made big bucks or the founders who have raised few millions of dollars from Venture Capitalists or other type of investors? What perplexes you the most? Probably how did he/she start in the first place? Or how on earth do you get a business idea? Obviously if you are an observer, the entrepreneurship stories seem more like fanciful fictional stories, propelled by some unknown forces completely alien to you. You read and come to know [mostly 99% of times] about the successes of entrepreneurs. The short descriptions of the successes are more like snippets of the euphoria. You fail to get the stronghold of the base of the entrepreneurship.

You know a startup germinated with an idea but how was the seed sown? How did the idea crop up? The core of the entrepreneurship process is Ideation though in the entire process of entrepreneurship, ideation is of least importance if it cannot reach the going-to-the-market stage for whatever reason. I am going to limit this article to the process of Ideation how to let your mind scribble and indulge in generating ideas for a possible start-up? I will highlight five ways to cultivate standpoints so that you can think the entrepreneurial way. Whichever way you choose, the approach should be to form a Question around a possible idea. Forming questions helps in brainstorming and considering different permutations of the same matter.

1) Love thy Problems:

Problems are problems if you see them so. But because you have problems hence there is a possibility for solving them. Only we the humans have been gifted with the power of imagination and thinking. So when you constantly face a problem while doing something, there is a possible gap there which could be an answer to the problem and hence be a crude idea for your start-up. Let your power of imagination and rational thinking take charge to figure out a way to address the problem.

BabyOye recently raised $2.5 million in funds from Accel Partners and Tiger Global. It was found by a couple who faced many problems in buying baby care products while the wife was expecting her first child. They conceptualised the idea around this – how to solve the problem of buying baby-care products for the first-time parents? They provided the solution by forming an online store for such products. This was their idea for a start-up!

2) Take advantage of the Technological Evolution:

The technological advancement and evolutions define the future in a way. Whenever there is advancement in technology it unlocks many entrepreneurial opportunities. The best example of this is when Apple had launched iPhone. iPhone created a market of its own. It took the industry of mobile phone apps to the next level. People who are active, enterprising and who keep themselves updated with the latest happenings around the technology will be the first ones to understand the underlying possibilities that come with every new product launch. So had you thought the entrepreneurial way you would have been quick to choose to develop an app for a particular vertical.

3) Understand The Niches:

Every industry develops niches around itself as it progresses through its life-cycle. These niches could eventually involve into separate industries altogether. You should keep your thinking cap on and look for opportunities that might prove to be good ideas. Start questions around that idea. It will help you shape the crude initial idea into more specific business model. It will even help you define target customer.

When new products are introduced, it stirs some needs parallelly which can be diligently converted into wants. These latent needs are the niches. Hence you can have an idea for your start-up by turning these needs into wants. The wireless industry is one such niche. It evolved once the need to do away with the bothersome wires gained predominance and turned into a necessity.

Another example is that of e-commerce. When e-commerce got accepted, it stirred the need for more variety of products to choose from for many verticals. For example, people wanted to have more options to choose from when buying electronic goods. They started feeling the need to make informed decisions. They now wanted to compare the prices and buy at the best available market price. Hence many niches took shape and e-commerce websites addressing these niches were born. Letsbuy.com and Naaptol.com are good examples in this case.

4) Tweak The Clones For A New Market:

This is a fairly simple technique to use for ideation. In our global village information is exchanged within minutes across the globe. Business models which are successful in one market can be adopted in other markets as well. All you need to do is unravel the existing successful business models and tweak them for factors which are specific for the local market where you are going to launch it. Groupon which is a successful business model for discount deals has seen many clones in India such as SnapDeal and Taggle. The entrepreneurship industry itself is witnessing many modified models as VCs and Incubators for startups.

At times the bigger company might buy you out giving you a good exit strategy. Groupon did the same and bought Sosasta.com to make its foray into the Indian market.

5) Question The Satus Quo:

Develop a habit of questioning the existing formats. A very good industry for this would be our Education Industry. Our education industry in the K-12 sector is still following the age old formats for imparting education. Our schools still have manual method for correcting the answer sheets. Why can’t the schools introduce any automated method? Why are our schools still bereft of using any technology? Why can’t we develop software which can help in generating the report cards of the students? Imagine how much productive time of the teachers will be saved!

Educomp revolutionised the way teachers teach in the classroom by inventing 3D SmartClass which helps in demonstrating important concepts to the kids in a digital way. They have substituted the traditional halk and board way of teaching by digital interactive boards. These smart boards help kids in accumulating information in a better way. Imagine a teacher teaching the fundamentals of a volcano through coloured three dimensional visuals! A child can assimilate information imparted as such with higher interest.

There can be many other ways to come up with ideas. If you think of any other way, please leave a comment. Let everyone spark a meaningful discussion. After all, startups are born out of questions, arguments and right thinking.

Mridula VelagapudiAbout Mridula: Mridula is a freelance writer. She writes on Entrepreneurship and has worked for a start-up in the past. To know more check out her profile at LinkedIn/Mridula Velagapudi

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