How does one judge the merits of an idea?


I'm at the Imagine Cup Finals, and I'm getting to see lots of students' projects, and lots of ideas. For competitions like that, there are of course a set of objectives that are slated as part of the competition -- work toward those goals and do better than everyone else. Sure, the Imagine Cup's goals are broad -- "Make the world a better place" -- but they're still a set of "mission objectives."

Real life does not have such easy, slated goals.

Let's say I wanted to start a startup tomorrow, with several ideas. How would I choose between them for general applicability to the masses?

(There's lots out there on how to take an idea and sell it, but I'm trying to choose the idea based on sell-ability)

Marketing Sales Ideas Business

asked Jul 9 '11 at 04:21
Billy O Neal
121 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

3 Answers


Answer these questions.

  1. Is there an existing market for this idea? If so, go to first set of questions - if not, go to the second set of questions.

  1. How much is this market worth in actual dollars?
  2. How established are the major players?
  3. Do you think that your product can reasonably compete with the established players?
  4. How much of the market do you think that your product can actually take?
  1. Does your product solve an actual problem?
  2. Is your product technically feasible? (easy to get into people's hands!)
  3. Is it marketable? (will people pay money for it/advertising, etc)
  4. Do I have the resources to properly develop it before somebody eats my lunch?
answered Jul 9 '11 at 04:34
Jarrod Nettles
176 points
  • Good checklist -- however I would also suggest that there is a sanity checkpoint of "Do you know anything about the segment you will operate in" -- that is, without prior knowledge of the market you should get education before trying to enter, and also you need to unserstand the peoples mindset two whom you want to pitch to. – Soren 13 years ago


"Let's say I wanted to start a startup tomorrow, with several ideas. How would I choose between them for general applicability to the masses?"

Well why is that the criteria... applicability to the masses?

Would you rather try an idea that everyone alive might want (Pet Rock!) that has a 10% chance of success or a niche idea that few would want that has a 90% chance to become real?

I'll take the can make a hundred of them.

answered Aug 12 '11 at 09:05
249 points


From the context of your startup I would say the best of your ideas would be the one you think you could follow through on without stalling. If you don't believe in your idea enough to think you can follow through on it from the beginning it probably isn't the best idea, for you to execute.

On the other hand if you a merely judging if an idea is good in general I find it very hard to figure that out on your own. You will definitely need to get reactions from other people to feel out if your idea is extremely good.

answered Jul 9 '11 at 04:30
J Lundberg
101 points

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