Discovering the perfect idea for your startup: How to combine rationality and intuition?

Explore how merging rationality and intuition can lead to the perfect startup idea. Discover unconventional approaches to unlock innovative and successful business ventures.

Discovering the perfect idea for your startup: How to combine rationality and intuition?

Explore Unconventional Approaches to Find Innovative and Ideas - Entrepreneural series #2

Version française

I have often been asked about how I always found ideas that would work for all my businesses. In fact, I don't know if it's more a conviction that something is missing, a void, something to create that has allowed me, each time, to be certain that the subject was the right one and that it was necessary to get started! My ideas never came to me at the office, certainly not during my work! I read that the founder of Fnac had the idea to create his company on his boat. For my part, it is also in a quiet moment, of serenity that I had the ideas that changed my life! One particular place had an incredible impact on my life: San Francisco. I even wrote an article about it. But let's get back to the idea, finding this idea! If we follow the perfect MBA manual, we will have the following list: It is not exhaustive but this gives a good overview. Sorry in advance for the Prévert's list! :)

Where to start?

First, it is essential to analyze consumer needs and problems by identifying the problems or frustrations they encounter when using a product or service, and finding ways to meet their unmet needs. It is also necessary to examine consumer consumption habits and purchasing behaviors, their preferences, their online or offline purchasing behaviors, and emerging trends.

For example, delivering quality meals in a short time is a challenge for all delivery platforms and restaurateurs.

Next, it is important to focus on technologies and innovations, keeping an eye on the latest technologies and innovations such as AI, cloud, blockchain technologies, and exploring how these technologies can be used to solve problems or meet specific needs.

For example, I used the emerging trend for the Cloud for Beamap (2010), my first company. RecastAi (2015), on the other hand, rides the wave of emerging DeepTech companies and Artificial Intelligence.

It is also necessary to study societal trends and changes, demographic changes, and changes in cultural preferences and lifestyles. For example, remote work was disrupted by the pandemic. Zoom took off suddenly thanks to this abrupt change.

It is also crucial to identify market opportunities, spotting rapidly growing sectors, niche opportunities, gaps in current competitors' offerings, regulatory and legislative developments, and performance gaps in existing industries.

For growth, I have always been very careful to position my companies on markets with more than 30-50% growth per year. Many industries such as banking or insurance are in fact still very little digitized, which gives the opportunity for many Fintechs. Paypal in its time had revolutionized payment on the Internet. Stripe also revolutionizes the payment service by integrating payment as a technical component. Many large groups have an Everest to climb to move into the 21st century. An opportunity for many startups to challenge them!

Finally, emerging needs must be taken into account, such as environmental issues and sustainable solutions, emerging needs in the health and well-being sectors, educational and training needs, solutions to online security and privacy issues, solutions for improving productivity and efficiency in businesses, and opportunities in the collaborative economy and sharing economy.

My last company, Ponicode, was serving developers. With ever-growing development needs, software quality remains a strong issue.

Lastly, the "sustainable" aspect will change a lot of things. The clothing production industry needs to be reinvented. Recycling must become the rule. It is impressive to see how the nascent battery industry for electric cars is already an industry that thinks about 100% recyclability. The company Redwood Materials, which former Tesla CTO JB Straubel created, is an example of anticipating emerging needs.

It's not enough!

As you can understand, this list is not enough, in the end, from my point of view! I think that if the rational side was the determinant for creating a company, we would have many more startups created by the most Cartesian profiles from top schools! ;)

The irrational approach, the desire, the need is what will determine the idea. More than the idea, this will be a project. This project will be why a team forgets its personal interests to serve the project.

The desire to undertake, to master one's destiny, to show that one is capable, are springs that I have often seen in startup creators. The collective adventure, creating a team with whom one is comfortable together to achieve, create, build, shape the future of the company. The aspect of success is also a criterion. Becoming rich? Few dare to admit it in France. I met a CTO of a US unicorn, and in 10 minutes, he shared his goal: to become a billionaire! As Sean Parker said in "The Social Network," "1 million dollars is cool, no! 1 billion dollars is." In short, assume who you are and why you want to be an entrepreneur.

And the idea then? It will be rather vague because the realization will take you where the opportunities are if you go fast enough to seize them. Choose the heart! To work on it every day, day and night at the beginning and for several years, you have to like the subject, right? You have to be excited about the subject! I wanted the cloud to be in every business to help them transition to digital faster and thus develop their competitive advantage. Very few heard it at first, but it was a kind of mission for me. The same goes for Ponicode, helping to improve code quality: we always and more than ever need it!

Where to start?

Make a list, think about it, and talk about it! The more you talk about it, the more you will know if the idea animates you and if it is up to the first conversations with your friends and network. Take the feedback and continue! And if everyone tells you, "it won't work!", continue as well! I heard that for my three companies... I will come back in a future article on my method for validating ideas.

Finding the perfect idea for a business is often considered a rational process that involves careful analysis of markets, technologies, and trends. However, this is not always the case. In reality, many business ideas are discovered in unconventional ways, often by accident or through "serendipity." Serendipity is the concept of discovering something unexpected and valuable while looking for something else. This is what happened for many entrepreneurs who discovered their business idea while pursuing a passion, exploring a new field, or meeting interesting and inspiring people.

For example, Airbnb, Slack, snow-making technology, or even penicillin were "discovered" fortuitously.

The irrational also plays an important role in discovering the "perfect" idea. This can be the desire to change the world, make a difference, or solve a problem that is close to your heart. It can also be a passion for a subject or activity that pushes you to look for ways to monetize it. Sometimes, it's simply a sense of urgency or emptiness that pushes you to look for a solution or create something new.

Furthermore, unconventional approaches can often lead to innovative business ideas. For example, rather than following market trends, some entrepreneurs choose to create new markets or reinvent existing industries. The list is long, including Zappos, Google, Criteo, and Free.

In conclusion

Finding the perfect idea for a business often requires a combination of rationality and irrationality, planning and serendipity. It is a process that can taketime and require deep reflection, numerous iterations, and continuous experimentation. By keeping an open mind and being ready to follow unconventional approaches, you can discover the business idea that excites you and allows you to realize your entrepreneurial potential.

So, to your ideas, get set... go!