7 Brainstorming Techniques for Generating Startup Ideas

Group of entrepreneurs working on a startup project.

Many successful entrepreneurs would agree that one of the hardest parts of starting their business was finding that perfect idea to run with. The best way to get a headstart coming up with a great startup idea is to brainstorm. There are a ton of techniques out there to conduct a brainstorming session, so we gathered the seven best brainstorming techniques for generating startup ideas so you can focus on coming up with ideas for your future startup company.

Recommended: Check out our article on how to come up with startup ideas and our guide on how to start a startup.

Brainstorming Techniques for Entrepreneurs

Whatever part of the process you are in, brainstorming can help turn even a vague concept into a realistic startup idea. Get started with these effective brainstorming techniques for entrepreneurs like you.

1. Mind Mapping

If you respond best to physically seeing your ideas on a page, creating a mind map is a great brainstorming technique to try. Mind mapping is a visual brainstorming technique that starts with a main topic and branches off with ideas and subtopics as you brainstorm them. You can create a mind map digitally using mind mapping apps or with just a piece of paper and a pen.

2. Rapid Ideation

The key word here is rapid. Gather a group of people, remind them of your topic, start a timer, and each member of your group will write down as many ideas as they can think of before the timer goes off. If you tend to filter your ideas, this is a brainstorming technique that can help you get all of your ideas out with overthinking them.

3. SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis is typically used when you create your business plan, but it also makes a great brainstorming technique if you have a few startup ideas in mind already.

Start by creating a four-square grid, and label the top two squares “strengths” and “weaknesses” then label the bottom two squares “opportunities” and “threats.” Next, write corresponding information for each section that aligns with the startup ideas you’re considering.

4. Five Whys

Many startups are born from a founder thinking up a solution to an everyday problem. Using the five whys technique, you can take a problem and find a creative solution by getting down to the root cause of the issue. It’s as easy as stating a problem and asking yourself why. With each answer, ask why again five times, and you should have a deeper understanding of the cause of the problem.

If you still aren’t finding a solution that hits the spot, use your brainstorming to come up with more questions about the problem and the solution to take your brainstorming further.

5. Brain-netting

Get your virtual pals together for a brain-netting session. All you need to do is gather a group of people to get together virtually and collaboratively brainstorm using a medium that is shared by everyone in the group such as a brainstorming app or software.

This is a super helpful technique for brainstorming with people that don’t live in your area or are more comfortable being at home during this time. It allows all users to add to the discussion without needing to come together physically.

6. Gap Filling

Establish a starting point and an ending point then fill in potential steps or gaps in between. Each step is a potential opportunity for you to create a product or service that will help customers get from the starting point to the ending point with ease.

If you already have a problem or need in mind, this is a great way to work through the possible tools your startup could provide customers that they don’t already have access to.

7. Reverse Brainstorming

Do the opposite of what you think you should do by thinking about the problem instead of the solution. Specifically, how you could cause a problem or even make it worse — this is known as reverse brainstorming. Once you’ve explored the problem, start looking for the startup ideas that could serve as a solution to the problems you’ve identified.

Startup Ideas Brainstorming Tools

Business Ideas Generator

Play a little startup idea roulette, and explore options you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise by using TRUiC’s Business Ideas Generator. This helpful tool makes it super easy to explore startup ideas, and with over 700 ideas, you are sure to find something that peaks your interest. The business ideas generator is an especially useful tool for brainstorming when you don’t know where to start because it’s easy to use and best of all — it costs nothing.

Pricing: Free

Google Docs

If paying for brainstorming apps or softwares isn’t in your budget right now, you can still conduct effective virtual brainstorming sessions using Google Docs. With this platform you can create documents collaboratively or privately with easy-to-use sharing features. You can think of Google Docs as a virtual piece of paper that you can use to brainstorm ideas from anywhere, with anyone, at any time.

Pricing: Free


Easily create and share notes or develop flow charts with your group of brainstormers with Coggle. Sharing content with Coggle is super easy, and it also allows users to create unlimited private diagrams, so you can work on solo brainstorming as well. If you want to try Coggle, you can sign up for their free trial and still keep the content you’ve created even if you decide the app isn’t right for you.

Pricing: Free - $8/month