Ideation – busy students generating startup ideas
When learning about entrepreneurship from classes, guest speakers, books, and other such forms of education, one is told that in order for an idea to be successful it has to be accepted by the target market. As such it follows that an innovative idea should ideally address a need that has not been solved yet. However, the essence of creativity demands that one explore all possible corners of the imagination – thinking and doing that which has not been done before.
Therefore, I’ve come to the belief that narrowing your vision to only look for the problems you see around you waiting to be solved is not the ideal approach to thinking up an entrepreneurial venture. An easy example to support my cause can be found in the gaming industry. Gaming is not a ‘need’ or a ‘problem’ that needs to be addressed. Instead, successful video game companies create a market for their products through the quality of the product itself, the experience it provides, and the marketing and promotion behind it.
Without narrowing one’s vision to problems that need to be solved, where should one start? How about I start with my own personal experience:
While enrolled in the Entrepreneurship speaker series, I began to see and hear from Cornell alumni who had gone to become entrepreneurial success stories. This constant influx of inspiration plus the general enthusiasm I had developed for the subject (through books, videos from eClips – a powerful storytelling tool available to all Cornell students etc) pushed me to think of my own creative idea that could solve others problems. Looking around me, the first thing that came to mind were the the stereotypical mega-success of our day and age – all who were typically tech tycoons – the Jobs’ and Zuckerbergs’ out there. Looking beyond the global stage to a smaller scale, I began to find numerous instances of student entrepreneurs succeeding in their ventures, from non-tech backgrounds and tech backgrounds alike, a good amount who had studied or are studying in Cornell.
Utilizing the resources available to me, including the Popshop and the extensive eClips collection, I eventually began to connect with entrepreneurial minded students spread across campus. Regardless of the idea each person had, I noticed that many of these student entrepreneurs did not necessarily have the fixed mindset I had of having to have to develop that one big idea that would solve a lot of people’s problems. I don’t know if others reading this have experienced a similar phenomenon, but I think that all that exposure to the startup industry left me with an unrealistic expectation of what was needed to be a success and what I could personally do and not do.
I realized that instead of looking inwards towards the skills I already had for ideas on how to solve my own and other’s problems, I was searching externally, glazed by the glitz and glamour of the hot new tech startups that seemed to come out every other day. Seeing that fellow students had pursued relatively simple ideas with the implementation and not the ideation being at the forefront of their minds, I began to change my perception on starting a business. I realized that for one’s imagination to truly work wonders, one has to accept the qualities and skills that one already has and work off of them. Essentially, instead of looking out, finding a gap, and thinking of how to bridge it, one should instead see what he or she is good at and then try to solve problems where their help can be useful.
I strongly believe this point is especially important for college students to take into consideration- especially those, who like me, are buoyed by the idea of entrepreneurship success. In the end, for all the ideas that my friends and I thought up, we found that there already existed a similar service somewhere in the world. Therefore, we concluded that for true creativity and feasibility at the same time, the imagination of new ideas should flow from what we already have going for us.
This is the first in a series about the process of developing a startup.