Questions to Help You Come Up With Your Startup Idea

Photo credit: Think different! by gianlucachiari via Flickr

Coming up with startup ideas is hard. Trust me, I know. Before my team and I settled on the current idea we’re working on, we spent many weeks brainstorming different things to do. Three different people with similar backgrounds can still produce a wide array of interests, skills and areas of expertise.

Here are some of the questions you might find useful when brainstorming your startup idea. They definitely helped us.

18 Questions To Ask When Brainstorming Startup Ideas

  • What do you love about your favorite products? How can you do that in a different way or for a new market / customer base / new use case.
  • What are problems you face in your life?
  • What are problems you see happening in other people’s lives?
  • What ought to exist in the world right now that doesn’t?
  • Are there obvious new behaviors that people will engage in 5-10 years from now? How can you build the technology to enable that behavior now?
  • Where are there groups of people who are struggling to do something where your product could make it much easier for them?
  • What kind of business would be really fun / exciting personally for you to build?
  • How can you take something that’s already pretty good and make it 5x better?
  • (10 more after the jump)
  • How will things that people do now be affected by the society-wide shifts in technology? (social, mobile, local, real-time, collective-action, gamification)
  • What are you good at?
  • Have you seen novel practices or technologies in other countries/places that you could bring to your community?
  • What industries / practices are you knowledgeable in?
  • What communities or groups are you a respected / influential member of?
  • What things do you hear your boss complaining about?
  • What would you be willing to work day in and day out on for years?
  • What ideas tap into people’s base desires (ie the seven deadly sins)?
  • What ideas do you get when looking at the Springwise idea database?
  • How could you port the business models of successful startups (Airbnb, Uber, Zipcar) to a different vertical?

What other questions might be useful to ask when thinking about startup ideas? Leave them in the comments!

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Jason Shen

Jason is a tech entrepreneur and advocate for Asian American men. He's written extensively and spoken all over the world about how individuals and organizations develop their competitive advantage. Follow him at @jasonshen.

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  1. Very nice list — I think that people undervalue the use of these types of posts. I especially like the question about how what people do will be affected by emerging, disruptive technologies…very, very important point!

  2. @jordanjwoods Thanks Jordan. The important is not just to read the list but spend maybe 10 minutes writing down ideas that come up for every question. That’s how the ideas actually come. Let me know if you come up with anything good!

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