The other day, I was sitting with a group of college students at Starbucks, we were discussing startup businesses. They were brainstorming of what type of business to start. A guy in an ice cream truck pulled up and the driver ran into Starbucks. I joked as he ran by, “don’t you sell any coffee flavored ice cream?” Everyone laughed as did the driver as he briskly rushed the door open and ran in. “Maybe he is just using the restroom?” We all laughed again, and then saw him get pick-up his pre-made coffee he must have ordered with his smart phone Starbuck’s app.
As he was leaving he told us while we sat at the outdoor table that he did sell coffee flavored ice cream. I asked if I could buy a round of ice cream for the group. He apologized and said; “Today, I am delivering Amazon Packages, as a delivery contractor, my brother is using all his vans, so I am helping out, we are really busy – Prime Day Delivery!” Everyone was intrigued, and he broke into a stride saying; “Chow” as he left, and he turned on the music for us as he drove away. What a cool small business owner. We all laughed again, he was so busy he just needed more caffeine to finish his hectic day.
Our group then went back to brainstorming on what a smart business might be for a startup. I laughed and said: “Hey, you have to be observant, we just saw a guy in a friggin’ ice cream truck delivering online packages because they didn’t have enough vans or people to help, that means there is demand in the market not being met.” I started asking them a series of questions:
– How could you deliver more efficiently?
– How could you streamline the delivery business model?
– How could you revolutionize the package delivery business?
– How could you find other underutilized vehicles and people to deliver?
And, then I reminded them that Amazon now has a market value of $1 Trillion. I asked them about other observations they just had?
– Why can’t that ice cream man deliver Starbucks?
– Why not start a drone business to deliver Starbucks and Amazon?
– Why not figure out how to solve those delivery challenges with software, apps, drones, combination?
I reiterated; “Let’s face it, you know there is unfulfilled demand in the marketplace for new delivery companies and better options when you see an Ice Cream truck delivering online packages as an Amazon Contractor.”
I explained that you have to observe everything and think. I explained that we can’t be too busy here brainstorming that we stop observing, the clues are everywhere, right in front of our noses. If you are at a loss for ideas, look around, read the newspaper, listen to people complain, think about things that would make problems go away for people – then try to come up with solutions for these challenges – solutions that you can make a profit in providing.
Lance Winslow has launched a new provocative series of eBooks on Innovation in America. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank; http://www.worldthinktank.net.