What are the best ways to think of ideas for a startup?


Here are a few orthodoxies, aka conventional wisdom:
  • People will never buy things online. They want touch and feel of the product.
  • People will never buy shoes online. You have to try it before buying.
  • People will never buy spectacles online. That is a ridiculous idea.
  • People will never look online for dating. How can we trust someone online?
  • People will never make friends online. Humans make connections when we meet.
  • People will never share their homes with strangers.
  • People will never share their cars with strangers.
  • People will never accept classrooms without live teachers.
These things were true for a long time and will always remain true. Just kidding!
Let us see where we stand today.
  • People will never buy things online. (Amazon, Flipkart)
  • People will never buy shoes online. (Zappos)
  • People will never buy spectacles online. (Warby Parker, Lenskart)
  • People will never look for dates online. (Tinder)
  • People will never make friends online. (Facebook)
  • People will never share their homes with strangers. (Airbnb)
  • People will never share their cars with strangers. (BlaBlaCar)
  • People will never accept classrooms without live teachers. (We are working to break this at ConceptOwl).
To state the obvious, startup ideas come from solving some customer pain point. And the biggest ideas involve breaking a major orthodoxy; demolishing a ‘universal truth’, which everyone took as a given.
But here is a question: If it is so easy, why don’t people just attack any orthodoxy and build a billion dollar company? Because the orthodoxy exists for a reason, and often multiple ones.
Here is an example. If you have to buy spectacles, you want to see if it fits nicely. You want to know if it looks cool when you cock your head at some special angle. You want to feel it resting on your nose. And so on… Which means, you have to absolutely visit a store in person to try out various samples and then buy.
So why would a Warby Parker, which sells spectacles online, succeed? They figured out that when you go to a store, you also make tradeoffs. In addition to the time wasted and inconvenience, you get limited choice at a very high price. So what if they offer you a better selection at amazing prices?
Customer: Hmm… But what about my concerns about ‘the fit being right’?
Warby Parker: Cool - we will help you choose the frame step by step, give you a ton of choices, and offer a free trial at your house with a two way free shipping and return! Now what do you say to that?
Customer: YES, I am in!
I am not saying that this solution was a slam dunk, but now it looks pretty obvious. However in the beginning, most people would have told the Warby Parker founders that it won’t work. That was the orthodoxy. But these guys removed the subtle bottlenecks to customer adoption layer by layer, and made it work.
Breaking an orthodoxy is hard, and the barriers to product adoption are very subtle. But once you get there, the reward is big. And at that point, everyone will turn around and say, “Of course, that was obvious!”.
I would like to share a bit of my own personal experience.
At ConceptOwl, we are working to break the orthodoxy that we need live teachers in classrooms. I am convinced we don’t. But it is way more complicated than it looks.
For example, why do we need live teachers in a class? Most of us would say ‘for interactivity’, since learning is a two way process. Well, then why do students go to coaching classes in Kota with 200 students in a room, where asking a question is practically impossible? What about some reputed CA coaching classes, which have 500–600 students in a class? How much interactivity do you have there?
Zero.
One of our major insights was that the biggest benefit of a physical classroom is that it enforces disciplined and distraction free learning. It also enforces a timetable and regularity. But for that, we don’t need teachers. Even a facilitator in a class can ensure that!
This is just one of the insights we gleaned, and now are now rolling out a teacher-less classroom model, where we teach via videos. For resolving doubts, we use remote online instructors.
By breaking the orthodoxy that ‘we need live teachers in a classroom’, we can provide quality science learning to millions of students in rural India.
This is neither the best or the only way to find startup ideas, but I am sharing this in case other entrepreneurs find some value in it.

Source: Quora

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