Ideas and Validation October 24, 2020

Feeling ashamed by having no idea.

Alex @alexdu

Hi everyone,

I'm a french developer since about 10 years now (8 years android and 2 years python back-end).

I'm currently looking for ideas to start a new side project and I see a lot of people having A LOT of business ideas, and i wondering where do they get them all ?

I sometimes got B2C app ideas but I'm tired of coding something really hard to get a lot of free users (with no money at the end of the story).

I'm more into Saas ideas right now and i'm really struggling to find a good idea to start validating it and coding.

I don't know if it's because of the covid situation or whatever, but I got the 'blank page syndrom', am I the only one over here ?

I have the skills and the time, but don't know what to do.

  1. 18

    Don't look for good ideas look for problems that need to be solved. You need to break down the type of business you want to create cause that will dictate the type of problem you want to solve. Do you want your problem you solve to be a billion dollar startup or a lifestyle business or an agency type ?

    Looking at it through the lense of a "good idea" is bad cause it might not be an issue people want solved or it's not enough of a problem that people are willing to give you money for it, so you will have trouble finding product market fit.

    Look for problems first DONT create a solution first and then look for a problem it solves. Lots of people do this too it will waste your time. This is why people say talk to your users first ask what problems they have.

    If your looking to start a startup type of business check this youtube video out from ycombinator about evaluating startup ideas it's very interesting. Hope this helps you out :)

    https://youtu.be/DOtCl5PU8F0

    1. 2

      +1 to this. The YC goal is to become a high-growth VC-backed startup, but this particular advice is golden and totally applies in the indie hacker case too.

    2. 1

      I find this very difficult to apply to my current side-project, I'm building an app that uses gamification to motivate people to run more, using groups, location and points, badges. But how do I validate this? Since it's more of a game type of thing, and not a business problem

      1. 1

        You need to look at it from another perspective. It's still a business problem because you need/want your user base to increase. You are using gamification as part of the experience to get people interested in your business/Solution. It seems like the problem you are trying to solve is to increase the chances of people exercising. It also seems like you need user feedback for feature sets you want to create.

        If I were trying to validate it I would find some feedback from people that use apps similar to what you are looking to make. There are some workout apps that allow people to keep track of what other users are doing. I think one of them even takes money and if you missed a day working out you lose that money and it gets sent to the people in the group who did actually work out lol. (You can take a little cut too possible business model for u? Lol) Which is a good motivator lol. Look into the feedback for those users. Pitch them your app idea and see what they say I'm sure there are groups for them around. Ask them questions about payment and how much they would be willing to pay or pay at all.

        I would also create high fidelity mockups of what it might look like and work maybe even a video. Then throw it on a website and see how many people are interested in hearing about it. buy some ads for it and see if people truly want to hear about it. collect emails

        I would also create a local running group or better yet join one that has already been established and piggy back off of it. Collect and then share the type of info you want to share with the group. Use a simple website for this. Here You are trying to create or find a community that will be ur test users where you can validate more of your idea/features

        You need to think about how you will make money from the app because if you need to charge the users you need to find out if they are willing to pay for it right away. Free users are not the same as paid ones. Hope this helps good luck.

        1. 1

          This is great advice! I need to get into the field of the market segment I'm trying to make products for so it seems

  2. 3

    Hi Alex,

    I feel like I am in the same position as you. After years of procrastinating, I finally committed myself to try and build something profitable and I've been trying to come up with an idea that I can work on. I had a list of ideas that I built up over the years but when I went through them, most of them seem unfeasible (i.e. not a big enough problem to charge for).

    Nonetheless, I'm going to keep trying - I hope you figure out something too!

  3. 2

    The same feelings for me too 😶 I have just completed 3 side projects in last 2 years but no earning money at the end of the story. Keep trying..

  4. 2

    Hi Alex,

    I am in Germany and building a team for a concept which maps together people's interest. Similar to how an actual map shows you the quickest route to take, this concept tells you the most efficient networking path for achieving your goal in the Healthcare sector.

    If it sounds interesting, I would be happy to explain more.

    Though I am still on my way to launching my first company, as a none tech person, ideas are basically all you have at the beginning.

    Over time, I realized its not so much about the idea, but really the right idea in terms of you as the founder and the demand from the market. It has to be an idea that you can execute very well, based on you being you. A great idea for you, may not be a great idea for me.

  5. 2

    Don’t look for ideas. Think about what you like to be different in the world and then try and make that happen.

    P.s, I’m trying to build a team around Poise. Email me at [email protected] if you’d like to chat about working together. I have lots of ideas ;)

    1. 1

      Hi Andy,
      It's funny because I had an idea month ago (so yeah I have sometimes ideas :D) kind of similar to getpoise.

      The idea was to automate any content (blog, rss source) and convert it into a podcast to end users with TextToSpeech lib.

      But the result was often shitty and the tone of the voices of TTS technology is not enough good for now.

      I 'll send you an e-mail as soon i get home.

      1. 1

        Haha, great minds :) I totally agree, text to speech is pretty amazing in some ways apart from actually listening to it. That’s why we use real voices. Optimised for human engagement :)

  6. 2

    I have a small podcast, just 3 mins each episode for startup ideas: https://anchor.fm/startup-ideas

    My tips:

    Looking for ideas is a terrible way to go about it. Most ideas will be bad. Instead, look at where the money exchanges hands. What are people paying for already? Then look for ways to solve that problem at scale with software.

    But, before you build, ask them to pay you for this solution that will make their life easier.

  7. 2

    I see a lot of people having A LOT of business ideas

    Well, how do you actually know if they have A LOT of ideas? And how can you tell if their ideas are of a high quality?

    Nowadays, it's very hard to find a good business idea, and it's super hard to find a profitable idea. To find it you need to see around, listen to people, try to understand what they are struggling with. Write down all the ideas, no matter good or bad, and some day you will see you have a lot of them. I started my list in the Google Docs ~ 5 years ago and now the document has more than 75 pages. I even implemented some of my ideas (with different results :))

    As for SaaS, you can try my book, "23 ideas For Your Next SaaS" https://www.saasforge.dev/books/23-ideas-for-your-next-saas as it contains many of the ideas written in my google docs :)))

    Good luck!

  8. 2

    One possible way to spark ideas, is to examine your current workflow/tools/day-to-day activities. Pay attention to problems that you come across, or things that you wish were better. Maybe you could be the solution.

    Don't stress it or force a bad idea. Good luck!

  9. 1

    Check my post history for more detail, but I just posted about an idea for building an app to help conduct large ground searches for missing people.

  10. 1

    Hi Alex,

    Coincidently, I just read an article on how to brainstorm great business ideas here. It's a good read.

    https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-to-brainstorm-great-business-ideas-ab51c3d51c

    Also, @levelsio has Business ideas generator on https://ideasai.net/

    Just in case you come across something interesting.

  11. 1

    Thanks everyone for the advices and the benevolence. It cheers me up :)

  12. 1

    Alex. Experiment on smaller projects which are in line with your passion but also not a huge undertaking. See how you feel working on the small idea. Its okay to discard and start over. Have some guard rails around what you want the idea to be in, like from your post its clear you want to be looking at B2B or B2B2C.

    Its okay to not start coding and start from the opposite of selling an idea to folks without writing any code.

    What are the things you use or the people and jobs you interact with on a daily basis that you think should be transformed digitally or can be improved with your input.

  13. 1

    Hi Alex, let's invert the problem. What must be true in order for you to come up with innovative startup ideas? I can think of two for now.

    1. Self belief. Sounds trite, but a person who thinks he/she isn't good at generating ideas will never give their ideas enough respect to actually work on it. I struggle with this issue a lot.

    2. Constantly explore your own curiosity in unrelated fields and explore existing products in those fields. When you broaden your scope of experience, you start to see the world in a different way and hopefully you could stumble upon specks of Eureka! moments.

    What helps me exercise my brain is to keep a Google Docs of business ideas I come up with. No matter how ridiculous they sound, how hard it is to create, or even if there are already existing competitors, I'd write it down. Beside each idea, I would write down the problem the idea is trying to solve.

    I don't know if this is true, but I'd like to believe that coming up with ideas is like a muscle, you've got to train it repeatedly.

    Good luck buddy. Your whole goal is to not quit.

  14. 1

    Don't be ashamed, Alex. Humans were created to eat, sleep and have sex. Not to generate startup ideas. So don't worry ;)

    Let me just point you to one article: http://www.paulgraham.com/ideas.html

    Hope that helps.

    1. 1

      Hahaha so true. :D

      Thanks for the link :)

  15. 1

    It’s nothing to be ashamed of, although I would rather look for something am passionate about and find ideas on where it could help or elevate and make lives easier. You wouldn’t be more into the profit if it’s a passion for you but ofc with time you need to start monetizing no matter how little

  16. 1

    No need to ashamed in having no idea. People who have lots of idea they also not able to do anything.

    Pick any product that you wishes You liked and wanted to built. Talk to their prospective customer and figure out what problem they are not solving. Then only solve that problem.

  17. 1

    There are tonnes of non-technical people filled with ideas, but with no way to execute. Maybe it's worth finding a co-founder with an awesome idea that you can help them build. Ideally you want them to have a skill you don't have (that could be sales, marketing, or just experience in the industry you're building for), that way you both bring something to the table and compliment each others skill sets.

  18. 1

    I might be able to help. Since you're on Python, how's your knowledge of Machine Learning?

    1. 1

      Close to 0 unfortunately, the course I did on Udemi 4 years ago left my brain ^^

      1. 1

        I've been working on an application for a while now. It would be better if it has a dedicated backend developer on it. If you have time, maybe I could talk more about it

  19. 1

    Idea generation is a process. Skills to build != skills to identify business opportunities.

    Beginner painers are not ashamed of not knowing what to draw, why should you feel ashamed of yourself?

    Business = solving other people's problems. Just talk to people and ask what's their problems.

  20. 1

    You could try looking at different forums, social media sites and other networking areas to find the type of problems people are having and make products to solve those problems. It could also help to pick an audience you want to work with and focus on that and their problems. It also helps if you are a part of that same audience already or want to be part of it so you will enjoy making the product and interacting with them.

    If you are willing to break away from doing an app, you could write books or courses to teach your skills to others. If you focus on more than just what we can do as developers with code a lot more product ideas open up.

    If you do want to do an app don't worry about your idea requiring a lot of free users to make money even if you target for B2C. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of [email protected] apps that are not available for free even in markets crowded with free or freemium apps. For example I pay around $80 a year for a budget app that is a paid only app even though there are hundreds of free ones I could use. This app has a different way of thinking about budgets and provides a great experience that makes it worthwhile paying for it. If your ideas are unique and help people or solve problems in a different way and/or is executed on really well it can make money even when competing against freemium apps.

  21. 1

    You might want to check out Software Ideas. It's a newsletter written by @Kevcon80 that addresses exactly this problem.

  22. 1

    "where there's a mess there's a market"

    Get out there in the real world and start looking for messes. As soon as you can identify real problems you can start building real solutions.

  23. 1

    I have the skills and the time, but don't know what to do.

    You can try to limit your time for whichever idea, having skills gave myself an impression that I can do anything but I don't know where to start. By doing weekend projects, I started to find ideas, doing more of these time-boxed stuff generates new ideas. I'm so bad at validating it, if you can manage to validate them in a short period of time. You may land on a profitable SaaS idea.

    1. 1

      If you literally have no idea. Just go by "x for y", twitter for dog owners, tinder for drifters, instant messaging for neighborhood... One may make sense after an hour. :)

      Or write a book, everyone writes one these days.

  24. 0

    Bonjour Alex, you do not need a new idea. Go to https://www.indiehackers.com/products and select any idea you like or care about and execute on it very well.

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