Startup Ideas, demystified
published on Nov 03, 2010 by Filippo Diotalevi
In my quest to rationalise the entrepreneur job I've been thinking lately to a repeatable process to come up with startup ideas. A word of caution before starting: ideas are worthless. So coming up with startup ideas means only finding some starting points to begin your customer development process.
Simplify and Split-and-Simplify
One common remark is that many websites are too complex or offer too many features that only a small percentage of the subscribers use. Old story. Therefore two techniques to find ideas worth investigating are
- simplify take one successful service and make a simplified version
- split-and-simplify take one specific feature of a successful service and create an improved version
Examples, trends and ideas
Let's apply the idea to 4 of the top 10 websites on Alexa.com
- Google (let's consider it as a search engine only) as a search engine, Google is already the result of an over-simplification compared to the previous generation of Search Engines/Portals. No much to improve here!
- Facebook it is an interesting example because this service is a collection of many features, with a poor (even if constantly improving) user experience; there are definitely many areas where newcomers can propose something new like
- high quality profile pages; think something like Google Profiles (but not designed by a geek) or chi.mp; there's definitely the space for services allowing user to create nicely designed profile pages that can be also displayed in your Facebook, Linkedin pages (and of course in your iPad and on your mobile). Pay attention to About.me in this space, they're coming out of beta very soon.
- groups; surprisingly many user groups are still using Yahoo! Groups, whose design is stably in the 90ies but still better than Facebook Groups or (urgh) Google Groups. I'm not aware of any good alternative to manage a mailing list + nice web interface + additional services
- photo sharing; a google search for ""simple photo sharing" gives around 30.000 results; yes, photo sharing gets lot of attention, I'd stay out of it
- activity stream; even if Twitter is trying to join the bloatware bandwagon, there's still an activity stream for every taste
- Youtube also in this case, everybody is trying to sell a "simple video sharing". Crowded space. It's interesting however to notice that Disqus have been able to take a very small feature of video/photo sharing (and blogs) like comments and build a hugely service successful service. An extreme case of split-and-simplify
- Wikipedia there are many experiments going on trying to simplify the access to Wikipedia. I already blogged about QWiki a few days ago, one of the most interesting.
There are many more examples that you can find thinking at other successful websites (del.icio.us, ebay, ...). Happy idea hunting!