10 Good Startup Ideas for 2017/2018

It’s that time of year again. Time to start a new company! No, not me, not yet… I’m still working on http://freebeer.ai, which by the way just made some real money last week (our first time asking for money generated about a 2% conversion rate).

Nevertheless, here are 10 Good Startup Ideas for 2017/2018… according to, well, me.
Why are they good, you might ask?
“Why are they good Dr. Beverly?”
I have no idea if they are actually good (e.g. will generate sales), which is how I usually determine goodness… but…
These ideas seem: a.) to solve a real problem. b.) to be easily testable c.) to be scaleable and d.) be able to have something that is protect-able.

Here they are, steal them please!

1.) Solar Computers
2.) AI for exercise/fitness (maybe even a martial arts bent to it)… the AI personal trainer.
3.) Solar Bike
4.) AI for price-matching
5.) Solar Gameboy
6.) AI for research (market research, topic research, searches, etc.).
Okay, here is a few more…
7.) VR Cafe / Gym
8.) Smarter Microwaves
9.) VR College
10.) Smarter Dishwasher

More themes? Well, yes. 2017/2018:
AI is exploding
Solar is burgeoning
VR is popping
and Smart is here to stay.

Get crakin’
Oh, and please buy my new book… Lean Startings – a novel about the life of a Lean Startup

A formula to tell if your idea is good: for Engineers & logical thinkers.

Is your idea good?  This comes up in a ton of contexts, from entrepreneurship and startups to brainstorms and even into big companies and small projects.   Even if you are just coding up something, you are usually working from an idea.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know if your idea is good, perhaps even BEFORE you’ve tried it?

The following logical flowchart is designed with that in mind.  Enjoy!

Step 1: Do you think your idea is good?
IF YES: Proceed to next step.

Step 2: Do others think your idea is good?
IF YES: Proceed to next step.
IF NOT: STOP!  MEET with those others and talk through what’s not good about it, improve it, then go back to Step 1!

Step 3: Will your idea take less than 1 day to build and test?
IF YES:  GOOD IDEA!  Build and test it!   It’s almost always worth it to test an idea you think is good, and get the results of the test.
IF NO: Proceed to next step.

Step 4: Can you build a “fake version” of your idea in less than 1 day and test it?
IF YES:  GOOD IDEA!  Build and test it!   It’s almost always worth it to test an idea you think is good, and get the results of the test.
IF NO: Proceed to next step.

Step 5: Can you build a “REAL or fake version” of your idea in less than 1 day and then test it in less than 1 week?
IF YES:  GOOD IDEA!  Build and test it!   It’s almost always worth it to test an idea you think is good, and get the results of the test.  Sometimes the testing takes longer (like an A/B experiment requires time to gather data).  Still, worth it!
IF NO: Proceed.
Step 5: Is there a way to measure if your idea is good?
IF YES:  Proceed.
IF NO: Rethink the idea to include a way to measure if it’s good or not, then go to Step 1.

Step 6: Work hard to see if you can build it faster in a way that can get you ‘measurable results’ if your idea is good or not….   and then build it and measure it.

That’s it!

I know maybe you were thinking there is some algorithm to “actually” tell you if your idea is good or not… newsflash, it cannot exist.  What can exist though is a new kind of thinking: think measurement first!  If you can’t tell if your idea is good or not (by some measure) then why even ask the question?

No go out there and Measure!

How to Brainstorm Effectively

Most people suck at Brainstorming.  Most companies suck at Brainstorming.  Through experience and study I have collected a set of ideas/methods that will teach you how to Brainstorm Effectively.

Brainstorming is the process of thinking up new ideas for a challenging problem or question.  Usually, the problem has already been considered for some time, but the answer is not obvious, or is out of bounds of some constraints.

Effectiveness in Brainstorming means that the number of ideas generated were high, and that at least one idea was selected as a good one, and that when implemented, the idea worked to solve the problem/question.

Here’s my collection of ideas for how to Brainstorm effectively:

  1. Choose a Diverse group with as many Experts as possible to help you Brainstorm.  People with Diverse backgrounds, diverse life experiences, and from diverse cultures will bring more unique ideas. Experts are people with 10,000 hours of experience in their field.  In business, at least one person with Marketing Expertise, and at least one person with Engineering Expertise is ideal.
  2. Get in the right frame of mind: Have everyone on the team do something to try to get them into a creative frame of mind.  Stretch, go to a fun location, play a game, think like you are a kid… something.  BRAINSTORMING IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!!  (Fun unleashes creativity).
  3. First ask everyone to Brainstorm Individually.  Have them write at least 3 ideas and send it to you.
  4. Now schedule a meeting (at least 2 hours, 3 hours is ideal; and have it span a lunch hour).  Plan to bring in food or go out as a group.  [this downtime is essential to the creative process]
  5. Open the meeting with “THE BRAINSTORMING RULES”… (write them on the wall)
    1. You MAY NOT Criticize ideas or even say “I like that”… save all comments till the end of the Brainstorming.  WRITE: “No Criticism”
    2. However, you CAN AND SHOULD build on ideas that others have put forth.  Write: “Build on Ideas”
    3. You SHOULD say many ideas, no matter how crazy.  Write: “Quantity and Crazy Desired”
    4. Keep it “light” and Fun!  Write: “Make it Fun”
  6. Start Phase 1 (out of two): 
    1. Write some of the ideas that people had individually on the board.
    2. For 30min to 1hr… ask the group to throw out ideas… and write them on the board.  If people get stuck, ask the question differently, or ask about a sub-part of the question… don’t give up after just a few minutes.. force the team to give ideas for the full time.
    3. Break for lunch…  [eat as a group]
    4. Resume the Brainstorm for an additional 30min to 1hr.  (because of the break, there is likely to be another burst of good ideas!).
    5. If the board gets filled… take a picture and clear some space and keep going.
  7. Finish now with Phase 2:
    1. Ask the team to vote for their favorite ideas…  let them pick three, put a * next to the idea for every vote cast.  During this phase, ENCOURAGE DISCUSSION about the ideas (but not about ‘who gave what idea’).  Remind the team that its not about ‘who’s idea is better’… only than that ‘we’ got to a good idea.
    2. Now look at the board… what is the best answer?  Is it feasible?  If not, why?  Either brainstorm on how to make it feasible, or see if the 2nd best idea is better in light of considering Feasibility.
I hope this helps in your Brainstorming!  Let me know if you try this and it works?  Also let me know what you do, if it’s different than my ideas here.