One in a Million?

A unique idea? Any idea that has not been used by a startup? Is there any such thing as an unused idea?

According to a report published by NASSCOM, there are more than 4,200 startups in India as of year 2015. With this number already in place how many ideas will you find that have not yet been implemented? Add to that NASSCOM’s ambitious plan to scale up to 10,000 startups over the next ten years. As an entrepreneur what are your options?

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together”. Vincent Van Gogh

Explore ideas that are unique or seldom used

In one of their articles, The Economic Times lists five startups that were set up with unique ideas (the link to the article is mentioned in the references). The list contains:

  • On-demand home services marketplace.
  • Lifestyle products and accessories of Indian origin.
  • Coaching institutes for professional courses.
  • Refurbishing IT goods and selling them in a different market.
  • Purchasing used mobile handsets, refurbishing them and selling them in the second-hand market.

You can map your ideas with such implementations and work out a common ground that you can capitalize on.

Be outrageous in your disruption

Yes, extreme ideas are what entrepreneurs are coming up with. Who would have thought of an app for dog sharing or dog sitting? Or, for that matter utilizing the ‘excess capacity’ in a person’s car to send your stuff to where that person is travelling? A few other amazing ideas include sharing healthcare equipment, investing in lawsuits online, online fund raising for social causes, funeral logistics, getting prasad online, renting clothes and also buying and selling pre-owned clothes and accessories. These and many other out-of-box ideas are raising millions of dollars from investors.

Narrow down your focus. Think niche

You need to consider this option carefully as your potential customer base will also reduce when you narrow down your target market.

This needs careful consideration because with narrowing your target market you will also reduce the size of your potential customer base. Accurately classify your market and determine its desires. Based on these parameters tailor your solution to the minimum extent possible and speedily launch your solution. A good example is Jugnoo, the auto rickshaw aggregator. With established giants such as OLA and Uber, Jugnoo narrowed their focus to auto rickshaws and has become quite popular. You will be surprised with the names of some brands that are in niche markets: Apple, Coca Cola, Google, Marlboro and McDonald’s are all focused on a narrow market.

Create unique value proposition as a differentiator

As the saying goes, “If you can’t beat them, join them”, but with a difference. In the course of your research and market study, you find that the market is crowded with businesses providing the same solution as you. You still need to find ways to make your idea a runaway success and make money for your business. The first thing is to establish what your competition is doing, and their inadequacies. Do not replicate things that are working for them, instead go with your strength areas. Looking at the competition’s inadequacies determine what you can do better and be realistic about it. If it can’t be done do not attempt it. For many businesses the success factor lies in the value-added service that they provide or the customer experience that they offer. Your value proposition could be low prices, shopping convenience or range of products or a combination of them. Test out your idea before going to market with it.

“For good ideas and true innovation, you need human interaction, conflict, argument, debate”. Margaret Heffernan

Undertaking the complexities of entrepreneurship with one idea will not take you far. You will need a ‘bucket full’ of ideas that you can evaluate and proceed with or discard as required. Do not embark on this exercise alone as your decisions will be influenced with your own biases and priorities. Talk to people, pick their brains, consult experts and consider advice from experienced people. Running out of ideas? You can always pick up more from the Internet.

“Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. It is a process; it’s not random”. Ken Robinson

Perhaps the best course for you would be to not worry about ideas that are unique or less used. Come out with an idea that will be profitable and then bring in uniqueness in the form of the value you offer. Identify your prospective customers, talk to them and determine their real problems and then think of a solution. Rope in some creative people to generate ideas around the problems your prospective customers are facing.

You may find that the solution is simple, just a matter of fixing a deficiency in an existing product or service. Do not draw inspiration from the biggies of startups that came up some five to ten years back. These are established businesses and you will not be able to compete with them. Moreover, what was in demand five years back may not be the trend today.

Well, that definitely puts a huge burden on you to take on something and make it work and flourish. If you can think of venturing into entrepreneurship, you have it in you to do great things. In the words of Orison Swett Marden: “Do not give up your dream because it is apparently not being realized, because you cannot see it coming true. Cling to your vision with all the tenacity you can muster. Keep it bright; do not let the bread-and-butter side of life cloud your ideal or dim it”.


1. NewsVoir. NASSCOM Start-Up Ecosystem Report 2015: India Ranks Third Globally with more than 4,200 Startups. 2015.
2. The Economic Times. Catching the eye! Five startups with unique ideas. 2015.
3. 13 wacky and original start-up ideas raising millions. 2015.
4. Officechai. 17 Upcoming Indian Startups Solving The Most Unusual Problems. 2015.
5. Brad Sugars. To Find Your Next Great Business Idea, Narrow Your Focus. 2012.
6. Tommy Walker. How To Come Up With A Value Proposition When What You Sell ISN’T Unique. 2014.
7. Sandeep Thakur. Top 10 Ultimate Ecommerce Turnkey Solutions for Launching Online Business in 2016. 2015.
8. Pardeep Goyal. How to identify a profitable idea for your startup. 2015.