Finding Ideas for Software Products

One of the main questions asked by new entrepreneurs is how to find ideas for new software products. It seems as if ideas are the main reason separating success from failure for those starting a new business. While this might seem an interesting explanation for success in life, experience has shown time after time that it is not the right way to approach business development.

First, it is well known that even great ideas may turn into bad businesses. It always takes effort to make something succeed. Even when the idea is a great one, if there is no matching effort to make it succeed, it won’t.

On the other hand, we have all seen companies coming with a well executed version of a simple idea that ends up succeeding in the marketplace. There are countless examples, even from companies as big as McDonalds and Walmart. Many of them became giants by their pure capacity of taking a simple business model and implement it to its limits.

If you are just starting, there is a number of ideas that you can explore:
– try to complement products that are already successful in the market;
– look for up sales and down sales on existing products;
– try to develop software that can deliver real results for people.

What to Avoid

The software world is littered with companies that tried to create technology for its own sake. While some of these companies may ultimately find a use for their technology, most of them will simply die. Frequently the reason of failure is that they didn’t start from a real need. They instead started with an idea for a technology, and tried to adapt it into something.

A recent example are startups created around the idea of mashups. A few years ago, people went crazy with the possibilities provided by web services, release by companies including Google, to Amazon, Yahoo!, and others. Since these web services could be combined into mashups, a lot of projects were launched to create new mashups that just didn’t make much sense.

The main reason of failure is that a lot of these people were not trying to solve a perceived need of the market. Instead, they were just smart developers trying to explore a new technology for its own sake.

It is true that some innovative companies are created this way. Usually, however, the reality is that the founders were smart enough (or lucky) to find up a niche for their technology.

Sadly, relying just in a new cool technology is a path that leads to failure most of the time. As a lot of people found out, it is much easier to start from something that people already want, and use technology to satisfy that need in a better way.


Ultimately, creating new products is not a difficult proposition, if you start paying attention to what people want to buy. Make sure you understand your users, and offer something that will satisfy their needs.

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About the Author

Carlos Oliveira holds a PhD in Systems Engineering and Optimization from University of Florida. He works as a software engineer, with more than 10 years of experience in developing high performance, commercial and scientific applications in C++, Java, and Objective-C. His most Recent Book is Practical C++ Financial Programming.

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