In Part 1, of the Startup Challenge we discussed how to generate (good) startup ideas. In Part 2, we focussed on compiling our personal criteria for success. Today in Part 3 of the startup challenge, I’ll share with you the three startup ideas I’ve decided to move forward with and conduct some discovery research around.

Ideas written up as problem hypotheses

Maybe its because I’m a researcher, but I find I see every new venture as an untested hypothesis. Whenever I see an announcement about a new product, I look for the underlining assumptions about customers. Whenever I see new government legislation, I look for the underlying theory of impact. And whenever I meet someone launching a new startup, all I want to talk about is how they are going to test and validate their idea as they move forward.

Not to get overly philosophical on the matter, but if you look at the world through a researcher lens, you can imagine every new idea is just an untested hypothesis waiting for the right experiment.

I’ve decided to articulate all of my startup ideas as a hypothesis, and here is the general formula I used: 

Because [knowledge, assumptions and gut instincts about the problem], users are [in some undesirable state]. They need [solution idea].

The nice thing about writing up all my ideas as hypothesis is that they are concise, yet complete. You can see the prior knowledge I’ve gathered, the assumptions I’ve made, and where my head is currently. Also, as I gather more knowledge I can edit the hypothesis to match.

My three startup ideas

Here are the three ideas I’m evaluating and will conduct some discovery research around

Idea 1: Non-addictive social media

Because their business model relies on advertising, social media tools like Facebook are deliberately designed to “hook” users and make them addicted to the service. Users are unhappy with this, and would rather have a healthier relationship with social media tools. They would be willing to pay for a social media service that was designed with mental health in mind.

Idea 2: The Postpartum Planner

Because the first two weeks after having a baby are the most difficult, new parents need extra help. There are resources available to solve specific needs (lactation consultants, midwives, therapists, house cleaners, etc.), but it is monumentally difficult to find and coordinate them all. New parents need an easy, all-in-one, postpartum support service. Much like how newly engaged couples hire a wedding planner for their big day, soon-to-be parents will want a postpartum planner. A postpartum planner will help them through some of the most difficult, yet rewarding days of their lives.

Idea 3: Passion projects for retirees

Because recent retirees have more free time, they will want to find a passion project. Many retirees have ideas about what hobby, charity, or new venture they would like to pursue, but don’t know where to start. They would benefit from a searchable catalog of passion projects, with instructions on how to get started.

Coming up next: Discovery

In the designer lingo, “discovery” is the first phase of every new project. It’s when you list out your assumptions and determine if they are true. Its also the time when you really define the parameters of the problem you are attempting to solve. For my startup ideas, it means I will start conducting some preliminary user research.

For one particular idea, I’ll be documenting my discovery research in an article series for A List Apart. I’m incredibly excited about it, and can’t wait to see what kind of reactions it gets. Subscribe to the mailing list, and I’ll notify you when the first article goes live.



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