The true useful way to idea generation
During the summer hatchery I spent most of my time researching to shape the final idea/product and pin down the main “customer value proposition” (CVP)
I have concluded the following during this time:
1. Find that key statistic, that one number that shapes your story and validates why what you bring is the solution
2. Listen to what people have to say
For the first point. You will be bombarded with all sorts of information from databases, news articles, scholarly articles, studies and others, which all say something of the potential of the idea. However, the input is usually indirect or minor and does provide the full story. However, out there there is that key statistic or number that immediately explains why is there a problem and how you are going to fix it. For example, a former Babson entrepreneur gave a rocket pitch about creating a common app for scholarships. She presented one statistic: that one the hand you have one application for colleges you have 100+ individual ones for scholarships. Not only this helps your audience understand your idea but also helps yourself with moving forward.
Similarly instead of gather useless secondary information focus on what your customer has to say and for that you don’t need money. Create the most basic product that captures your cvp and see how random people react to it. For example the I was working on was a shopping app. I created literally on a piece of paper snapshot of the app’s main pages, made copies and gave it to random people that were willing to assist. I went to departmental stores around Boston like Macy’s in Cambridge and gave people a paper, explained what it is and how it works and got their reactions. The feedback I received was more valuable that any graph or chart I encountered.
Lastly, the best way to research is to simply observe. For example I spent hours looking at people buying, their behavior and patterns in order to understand how my product will change these patterns in a meaningful, positive way.
Don’t forget that you have one advantage: your competition does not know you exist. This means you can study and learn from your competitors thoroughly while they cannot learn from you. For this reason, study your competition as hard as you can before going public.