By Jazzy Teen
As a millennial and student in two particular fields that are constantly evolving – journalism and marketing– I see new technology and innovations so often that I never realize the ‘next big thing’ has often stemmed from a startup idea. I’ve never been the first to download the newest update, or buy the latest app that promises to make my life more convenient in some way, shape, or form. Actually, I may have a mindset more like our parents or grandparents: I like what’s comfortable and technology freaks me out.
Don’t get me wrong, I have an iPhone 6; I Snapchat here and there; and I’m competent in working a computer. But, you can bet I let my phone get to the point of near-crashing before I finally cave and update it. I’m the last to buy anything new so that the early adopters sort out the problems before I join. So, unsurprisingly, a class assignment asking me to create a startup idea, of my own, caused for some wide eyes. I am a fairly creative person, but technology is not my thing. Give me the idea and I can market the heck out of it, but to think of an idea myself…Yikes. My biggest problem is that half the ideas I have, I’m sure are already created. I just turn a blind eye to most innovations so that I wouldn’t have the slightest clue on what’s already out there.
Before backspacing what I had just typed, ‘the problem is that half the ideas I have,’ I realized I’ve committed the first sin in startups learned from the two reading assignments. In “How to Get Start Up Ideas,” by Paul Graham, the first sentence literally tells us the most important rule of startups: Don’t think of ideas, think of problems. So, here I am completely overwhelmed by what’s already out there that I’m skipping a step in my thought process. As I continued reading Graham’s piece and onto the next article, “Breaking News,” from the Nieman Reports, I start to notice crossovers between the pieces.
First and foremost, the best ideas have stemmed from problems the creator personally has or had. That put’s things in perspective – start small. Buzzfeed and Huffington Post started out, as the report describes, by “posting cute pictures of cats,” then with time evolved themselves into quality news sources. Neiman continues to discuss the value of the audience, a common denominator discussed in the other article. This area doesn’t scare me so much. As a marketing student, the importance of target markets has been pounded into my brain for four years now. An idea that is only good in your head and doesn’t appeal to actually reality is a bad idea. After establishing your problem, solution, and strategy, Paul Graham tells us to develop our idea to a point where you can’t imagine how something was done without it.
Neiman Reports puts an emphasis on the audience and what they want and how they want it, but explains that disruption is key, ‘as a means of charting new paths to survival and success.’ It states, ‘disruption theory argues that a consistent pattern repeats itself from industry to industry.’ He gives examples of Japanese automakers, ministeel mills, and news organizations entering the market. All of these developers started small.
Reading the two articles alleviated some stress. I have problems. Who doesn’t? If we take the time to assess the problems we have personally, we realize that there’s bound to be a larger pool who have similar complications in their lives. I’m hoping to use that as inspiration for my own startup idea.