How to Find the Right Startup Idea

Alice Bentinck
3 January, 2023

Too many people delay founding because they’re waiting for the perfect, fully-formed idea to emerge.

Startup ideation isn’t about writing out a long list of ideas on sticky notes and then picking the best one. Too many people delay founding because they’re waiting for the perfect, fully-formed idea to emerge. In reality, startup ideas are not a fixed entity. They flux, iterate and grow.

Your idea can, and should, change drastically as you get deeper into your founder journey, and as you learn from customers in real-time.

A startup idea is anything but static. Consider Canva, which began as an idea about how to design school yearbooks, or Google, which was originally an idea about a better search algorithm. You can still see the imprints of these ideas in what the companies are today, but they’ve evolved dramatically. Even after decades of success, those tech giants are still iterating, testing, rebuilding, and reworking their products.

The Importance of Founder / Idea Fit

Many potential founders get hung up looking for the right idea. We encourage founders to find the right idea for them. And when we say “idea”, what we really mean is the right starting point for them.

Your initial idea, or hunch, should start with you. Think about the areas where you have more knowledge or skills than most – that’s where you have a unique advantage. Building in an area you know well will ensure you have Founder / Idea Fit. You need to be the right person to build your startup. You need to build where you have an Edge.

Using the Edge Framework to Develop Ideas

At EF, we’ve developed a framework to fast-track the process of discovering founder/idea fit. We call it the Edge framework.

We define your Edge as your unfair advantage in solving a problem, compared to other founders. To understand your Edge, you need to consider what knowledge, skills or behaviours you bring to the table. What problems are you uniquely placed to solve?

We usually refer to three kinds of Edge, covering commercial experience (Market Edge), skills (Tech Edge), and behaviours (Catalyst Edge). Most people have some skills or experience across each dimension, but are strongest on one Edge.

A Market Edge usually has experience in a particular industry. They’ve witnessed the status quo, and their insights allow them to spot challenges and opportunities that others miss.

The Catalyst Edge has a set of behaviours that make them exceptional at amplifying and commercialising their team’s expertise. Founders with a Catalyst Edge tend to have multiple examples of making things happen, acts of extraordinary persuasion, or building and motivating teams.

Founders with Technical Edges have expertise with a specific technology, and an itch to apply their technology to real-world problems.

Having an Edge isn’t about being a world expert. It’s about identifying what starting points you can use to develop your idea. Some of our most successful founders have been early in their careers. Their Edge came from combining their outsider perspective with exposure to a particular problem.  


  • Leo Spenner, co-founder of Alcemy, was fresh out of uni when he joined EF, but had spent much of his life working on a cement plant owned by his family – that’s where his edge was. He knew enough about the cement industry to be able to identify a key problem in that space. Alcemy now equips cement and concrete plants with sensors and ML to revolutionise production accuracy and enable 50-80% CO2-reduced concrete at scale .
  • Zeena Qureshi, co-founder of Sonantic (recently acquired by Spotify), had spent much of her young adult life teaching speech and language therapy to children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as a part-time job. This was the basis of her Edge, and Sonantic’s mission became to create the most realistic AI-powered speech software.
  • Alex Dalyac, co-founder of Tractable (now worth over US$1Bn), was initially turned down after interviewing at EF. After we said no, Alex went away and completed a one-year degree in artificial intelligence, with a focus on deep learning. He hadn’t become a world expert in a year, but he had built up his Edge, such that he could spot opportunities in the space, and attract a co-founder with a world-class research background in deep learning.


Forming hunches and ideas around your edge gives you a far better chance of succeeding as a founder. 

There needs to be a reason why you’re working on your chosen idea – you need to know why you’re the right person to build your company.

Articulate Your Beliefs

One of the challenges of having an ‘idea’ is that the word encompasses two things. One, it’s what you hope to achieve in the long-term—the mission and vision for the company to which you’ll dedicate a significant portion of your life. Two, it needs to communicate the here and now. What will you do now to show that you are able to create real value in the short term? 

To get started, you need to think about what beliefs you hold about the world, based around your Edge:


  • What do you believe could be different about a market, an industry, or the world in five years’ time?
  • How do you believe people or companies will behave differently in the future because of your belief?
  • Will that vision fuel you and your co-founder for the next five to ten years?


One way to think about a startup is that you’re taking a belief about what the world could be and gradually building that possibility into existence. 

As a founder, you have a unique opportunity to build the world you want to live in. Now is the time to figure out what change you’re best placed to create.


At EF, we help you develop your idea, meet a world class co-founder, and build a startup from scratch. Don’t miss out – apply now.


Take the first step towards becoming a founder.

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