How to come up with a great idea?


Most essential part of any start up is a good idea. So what should you do (not specifically, of course), to come up with an idea (including day-to-day behavior, studying etc.)? Thanks for any answers in advance.

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asked Nov 10 '10 at 07:34
Denys S.
166 points
  • The good idea is not the most essential part. Many high profile companies today are executing and profitable on ideas OTHER than the ones they started with. I think the key is to find something you want to work on - not something that will make lots of money. – Tim J 13 years ago

7 Answers


Dont get too hung up on selecting the best idea. Like many others, I have done the same mistake. Write down all your ideas and select the one that you think is most likely to make money. Thats the definition of 'Best idea'. Here are some resources for you - 5 tests my next business idea will have to pass - Can you add more ? Good Luck

answered Nov 10 '10 at 09:32
Birender Saini
271 points


Get in the game with a so-so idea. Listen to the customers . Morph your so-so idea into the great idea the customers have.

Great ideas come from customers themselves asking for something. It can be trial and error, you present things, and your great idea is something that has traction with actual customers.

My ideas all came in the following way:

I got into business selling a "high tech" product that sold only modestly well. I put out a marketing campaign which brought me a good amount of people. I was selling "X" but they were writing me emails and calling asking for "Y". So I built "Y" and knew it was a great idea because people were asking for it, and that ended up in lots of sales.

Then, as I was selling "Y" they were asking for "Y + Z", in other words they were asking for a service that went along with "Y", but was a seperate product. I built it and it sold. Then I noticed they needed an iPhone version of "Y", and now I'm building that, and will build the Android version also. Then I noticed they wanted service "YZ1" to go with it, and it works on Windows, Mac, and iPhone, and Android, and that is next.

So, you see, the customers tell you what they want, and you deliver it.

Bottom Line:
Get in the game with a so-so idea. Listen to the customers . Morph your so-so idea into the great idea the customers have.

answered Nov 11 '10 at 05:37
Jacare 30
71 points


I don't necessarily agree on the "Most essential part of any start up is a good idea" thing. There are far more important things, like having great cofounders.

Anyway, there are a few options you can explore

  • Select a "target customer" (f.i. doctors, lawyers, soccer players, pet lovers, ...) and go to a conference/exhibition/fair where they hang out; understand what are their problems/needs
  • Simplify or Split-and-simplify an already existent solution (I wrote about that in this blog post )
  • Port/specialise existing solution to new market (niches): dating website for dance passionates, social networks for pet lovers, "facebook for the enterprise"
answered Nov 10 '10 at 09:59
Filippo Diotalevi
2,573 points
  • +1 agree 100% with the first bullet point. – Ricardo 13 years ago


My best "ideas" are problems that I have. I needed a project management web app without a ton of useless features, so I built one. I needed a way to manage my domain names, so I built an app. The list goes on and on.

Find the issues you are having with your day-to-day, and build products to help you out. If you have certain problems, then other people are likely to have those problems as well. See if there is a market for it. If there is, then make the product.

answered Nov 11 '10 at 02:43
1,340 points


We re-invent the wheel. That has been the key to our success. There is never a reason not to play a certain game because there are too many players, if you know you can enter the game and play it better.

For example, if you could create better language learning software, there is no reason not to create the next, (BETTER) rosestta stone.

Worst case, you fail.
Best case you put a dent in their profits, and they offer to purchase you.

Good ideas are the ones that are successful.
If there was no re-inventing of the wheel, we would all be using myspace instead of facebook, blogger instead of word press, and OSX instead of windows 7!!!!.

You can always take a good idea, that is financially viable and make it better. Its important to do it with a business you fully understand.

answered Nov 10 '10 at 14:25
2,079 points
  • you mean windows vista instead of osx ;-) – Henry The Hengineer 13 years ago
  • i was actually thinking of Windows Me, but did not want anyone here to get jealous of my setup! =) – Frank 13 years ago
  • The guy is actually right (unfortunately, examples are not that good, and it's a bit off topic). Most usually, new idea is a mix of several old ideas. Truly great is something completely new, but how much of that can we see in the past or present, and how much of them were successful?! This is the point of view I've underestimated. – Denys S. 13 years ago
  • Thanks, hopefully the example about windows ME being much better than OSX is appreciated :) – Frank 13 years ago


I heard a cool tip somewhere, perhaps on this forum... google for this phrase: "is there a software for" or conversely "is there a website for" if you're looking for software or website ideas

answered Nov 10 '10 at 14:46
886 points


I wrote a blog post about this a couple months ago about looking to Facebook for your startup ideas. Not facebook the company but your friends activity streams. People post up on their wall what they love the most and what they hate the most about life. You can see peoples pain points or see what they love to do.

Usually good ideas come from filling peoples pain points or giving more to people of what they love.

At least once you build the software you would already know the audience to go to test it out.

answered Nov 11 '10 at 00:27
70 points

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