4 Ways to Generate New Business Ideas
One of Pixily advisors, Karl Ulrich, send me his latest book to read, titled “Innovation Tournaments, Creating and Selecting Exceptional Opportunities”. Karl is a serial entrepreneur and Professor of Operations at Wharton. He has written a number of books on problem solving and his latest book is about using the wisdom of crounds to generate hundreds of ideas and identifying few winning ones.
The book lists 8 different ways to generate new business ideas. Having used a number of these in my own life, I felt the urgent need to share them with you. Here are 4 of these and the rest you can read from the book:
1. Alternative approaches to existing innovations
You identify innovations that are coming to the market and look for alternate solutions that will address the same need or alternate needs that could be addressed with the same solution. A good example is the company Scribd. Scribd has done to books what Youtube has done for videos. You upload your documents and they make it easy to share with the world.
2. Annoyance-driven innovation
List all annoyances that you experience everyday and pick the one that applies to most people and come up with solutions. Tripit is a company that was founded to solve the frustrations everybody faces with the myriad of reservations (air, car, hotel, theme park etc) to organize and locate while traveling. How many times have you misplaced the car reservation that you made online? Once Tripit identified that this is an annoyance everyone faces, they came up with a very elegant solution.
3. Drive an innovation down-market
There are a number of products and services that are targeted at large customers. They are expensive and may offer more than one needs. Pixily, the company I co-founded is one example. Document Management solutions that address both paper and digital documents have only been available for mid-large companies costing at least $100,000 to buy, implement and maintain keeping it out of the reach of homes and small businesses. Pixily democratized this expensive technology and has packaged it in a form that consumers and small businesses can afford and use.
4. Trend driven innovation
Follow the trends. That is, look for changes in social norms, demography and technology and then see how you can innovate to align with those trends. A great example is the iPhone. There are so many innovative applications that have been created for the iphone that one could not have been imagined: Filing Insurance claims form the scene of the accident, turn the iPhone into an instrument, and using physics and crayons to create fun games are just few examples of great iPhone applications.
These are just four of the eight described in the book. I am sure you have your own techniques to generate new opportunities and I would like to hear what they are.