According to Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz, the best startup ideas are often not “eureka” moments. Nor should you bet on taking a sub-par idea, and just executing really well.
To map out all possible paths your startup could take, you should consider:
1) History. Know your market, and know what’s been tried before. Most importantly, learn from the mistakes of others.
2) Analogy. Yes, the ol’ “We’re the [WELL-KNOWN COMPANY] of [COMPLETELY NEW INDUSTRY]” is actually a good framework to think about new ideas. My recent favorite example of this is Rover — the “Airbnb for pets.”
3) Theories. No need to run off and get your PhD before starting a company, though. The most well-known academic cum business philosophy may come from the likes of Harvard Business School professor Clay Christensen, whose book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” toes the line between academic theory and pure pop-culture.
4) Experience. In the words of Dixon “put yourself in interesting mazes and give yourself time to figure it out.”