How to come up with Ideas for a Startup

So, you’ve decided to become an entrepreneur. Congratulations! Now you need a genius business idea that will make you as successful as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk? Don’t worry, here are some suggestions how to get started:

  1. Attend a Startup Weekend
    Startup Weekends bring together lots of startup enthusiasts for a weekend. A lot of the participants already have startup ideas and are looking for cofounders. On the first day, people pitch their ideas and form teams. You can either pitch your own idea or join someone else’s team. Throughout the weekend, the groups build a prototype of their idea and present it to a jury of startup experts on the final day. Along the way, the get feedback from investors, serial entrepreneurs and experienced mentors.
    Startup weekends regularly take place in nearly every large city around the world. You can check their schedule here:
  2. Attend a Hackathon
    If you don’t want to wait for the next Startup Weekend, you can check if there’s a Hackathon near you. At a hackathon, developers meet to engage in collaborative computer programming. This is often the start of future entrepreneurial activities.
    Important: Most hackathons either require some basic programming skills or limit the available places for non-developers. You should make sure beforehand that you meet the requirements.
  3. Organize your own Brainstorming Session
    I came up with the idea for my startup by locking myself in with some friends, two crates of beer and a flipchart. To develop startup ideas, we used an adaption of the “Walt Disney Method” (and drank a lot of beer). It works as follows:
    a) First, you take on the role of a “Problem-Finder“. You write down everything that annoys you or anyone else. For example, we found that you never find parking spaces in the city.
    b) Second, you become the “Dreamer“. How could you solve the problems? Write down all the ideas you have, without thinking whether your solutions are realistic or not.
    c) Third, you become the “Realist“. Check if your solutions can be built and how much competition there already is.
    d) Finally, you become the “Entrepreneur“. Rank your solutions by business potential. Voilà! You have a set of great business ideas. Now implement your best idea and start on the road to success.So which idea did we develop in our beer-filled weekend? We figured out that many sports teams struggle to find sponsors. We looked into other markets (notably the book market before and found that a central marketplace for sport sponsorship could make the market much more efficient and help sports people and sponsors alike. So we started to build Sponsoo – Europe’s largest online marketplace for sport sponsorship.
  4. Find Co-Founders with existing Ideas online
    If you don’t find the time to attend or organise an event, you can just browse for business proposals online. Websites like Founder2be or Founderio match people who have an idea with potential cofounders. After I created the idea for Sponsoo at our own brainstorming session, I found my cofounder on one of these sites. You can read our story here: Success Stories – Sponsoo.

Whatever you do, I wish you good luck! Happy to hear your feedback in the comments.

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