It may seem like every great business idea is already in the market, but the truth is, no matter how many startups launch every year, new ideas are always waiting to be discovered.. It’s just a matter of identifying the right problem to solve and building the skills and team to execute.
So how do you identify the perfect problem to solve? Great ideas don’t grow on trees, right? Well, many of the founders of the highest-performing startups in Arizona came up with their startups by tackling problems they experienced themselves, either in their career or in their everyday lives.
To give you some inspiration, we asked members of the StartupAZ Collective to share their stories about how they came up with the idea that launched their startup.
Dovly is a Phoenix startup that offers credit repair and monitoring services to help people struggling with low credit scores. For co-founders Nirit Rubenstein (SC 2020 Growth), CEO, and Tedis Babouian, Chief Credit Officer, the issue is a personal one shaped by their upbringing.
“We’re both immigrants who came into this country and saw our families struggle from the lack of access to credit. They couldn’t even rent an apartment. At its core, that experience drives our passion for Dovly,” Nirit explained.
Before starting Dovly, Nirit was the CEO of a credit repair company that used more traditional methods. It was there that she realized how widespread a problem low credit scores are and how there were no good solutions.
“I knew there had to be a better way. Our mission is to fundamentally reform the credit repair industry so customers come first,” she said.
Postscript founders Alex Turner, CEO, and Colin Turner (SC 2020 Scale), COO, are creators. The two brothers were developing several different ideas, but none of them felt like the right product. That changed when one of Alex’s friends, who was running a Shopify store that had grown by marketing to a college-age audience, presented them with one of his pain points.
“He explained to us that college students are mobile-first, and he wanted to be able to send text messages to his customers and subscribers in the same way you could with emails,” Colin said.
Colin and Alex decided this was a problem worth solving, so they started to build a text-messaging marketing tool as comprehensive as the email marketing tools already out there. Now, a little more than two years later, their growth has skyrocketed, placing them near the top of the charts for Shopify App Store marketing tools.
HomeKey co-founder and CEO Shane Ettestad (SC 2020 Growth) was selling a home he had done a major remodel on many years prior, causing him to realize how many holes there were in the process. He was frustrated by having to try to remember every change made to the house.
“We had to put together a legal document with a lot of information, like who our termite guy is, who did our pool work, did we ever have a flood, and much more,” Shane said. “Some of it is simple to look up but other information takes a lot of time and digging.”
That’s when he realized it would be much easier to have a digital file to explain a home’s entire history and details to potential buyers. After launching in March 2020, HomeKey has partnered with some of the biggest homebuilders in the area and is already active in several communities.
Before starting Better Agency, a marketing, prospecting, sales, and retention platform aimed at helping independent insurance agencies, co-founder and CEO Will Shaw (SC 2020 Growth) played in the NFL as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. After an injury ended his playing career, Will’s wife helped him land a job doing implementations and consultations for a CRM company that she worked for.
After that, he started a marketing agency geared toward insurance agencies. It was there that he realized some of the problems independent insurance agencies were facing.
“A lot of these insurance agencies were using 5-10 different platforms to manage their operations,” Will said. “These agencies are usually local, small businesses, so increasing their operational efficiency is very important.”
Upon realizing the problem, Will decided to utilize his experience from working for a CRM company to start Better Agency. It has been very successful so far, helping independent agencies across the country become more efficient and competitive.
Co-founders Scarlett Spring (SC 2020 Growth), CEO, and Linda Buscemi, Chief Clinical Officer, started TapRoot out of a desire to help caregivers de-escalate Alzheimer's and dementia behaviors in patients.
Linda previously worked in a healthcare environment, working very closely with caregivers who responded to escalated behaviors from people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. She helped develop programs to train staff on non-pharmaceutical methods to prevent or decrease the problems based on patterns the patients exhibited. However, there is a very high turnover among the caregivers, so the level of knowledge transfer and understanding of the patterns was very low.
Linda and Scarlett decided the best way to solve this problem was to develop an automated platform and mobile application that uses artificial intelligence and behavioral pattern analysis.
“Even if you hired a brand new caretaker, they very quickly could come up to speed on the most common behaviors this particular individual displays and the best techniques to calm them down and de-escalate that behavior so that they can provide the best care possible,” Linda said.
YellowBird co-founder Michael Zalle (SC 2020 Growth) is a self-described “quintessential entrepreneur” who has been creating businesses since he sold tie-dye t-shirts at concerts as a kid. He has always loved the startup world and solving important problems using technology. His 20 years of experience in environmental health and safety allowed him to come up with the perfect problem to solve.
“YellowBird is an environmental health and safety marketplace that places environmental health and safety experts across the country in high-risk construction environments,” Michael explained.
One moment that inspired him to put his idea into action was when he rode in an Uber ride with a driver that was “ way overqualified” to be driving him.
“I started thinking about all the other overqualified people who could be doing something to leverage their hard-earned skills,” he said.
Inspiration is all around us
Even though all the members of the StartupAZ Collective arrived at their “aha-moment” in different ways, the overarching theme remained constant: Inspiration is all around us. Not every startup has to change the world. They just have to solve a problem and the bigger the problem, the better the opportunity.