Entrepreneur Alex Fishman has a “Post-Post-Mortem” post online detailing the time spent between one startup failing and another one starting. After the first one went down, the investors gave Fishman and his partner Dmitry Fink until the end of the year — 110 days — to come up with a startup idea convincing enough that the investors would allow them to keep their initial investment funds.
This put the two entrepreneurs in a unique position: Needing to come up with a startup idea to match the founders, team, and funds they already had. Here’s the process they used.
1. List the Existing Companies That You Wish You’d Founded
You and your would-be co-founder should each write a list of cool startups you could have founded but didn’t. Cross-check with each other. Talk about what you liked about each.
2. Find the Common Theme
What’s similar about all the startups you each liked? What’s different? For Fishman and Fink, the theme was a B2B model, letting them cross B2C or marketplace platforms off the list of possibilities.
3. Create Two Groups of Ideas: Yours and Others’ Ideas
Now you have a theme that you’re interested in. It’s time to bring in fresh blood. You’ll need to continue networking and discussing with others in order to ensure that your idea pool isn’t too tiny. Fishman and Fink split up the process:
“Dmitry, as the smart one, led the effort on our own ideas. And as I am a networking slut, I was focused on the second effort.
Many ideas of our own were based on problems we felt are worth solving. We tried to categorize them by the type of business and our knowledge of the space. Then we had to make sure both of us were sufficiently excited about the idea to start researching it further.”
4. Run It By the Investors
From here, the advice should be pretty familiar: See if investors are interested. See if the idea fits your teams’ strengths. See if industry leaders are behind it.
In the end, they solved their problem: The two are now co-founders of Bugsee, a B2B software application that records footage of events prior to a bug, to allow engineers to figure out what went wrong more quickly. Hopefully, a similar startup idea generating process can make your own interests and strengths just as clear to you.