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How to Come Up With Killer App Ideas Series - Part 1 - Solve a Problem

How to Come Up With KILLER App Ideas Series – Part 1 – Solve a Problem

Problems Are OpportunitiesOne of the most common questions I get from readers is how I come up with ideas for apps?  So today I am starting a series of posts that will discuss many different ways you can come up with KILLER app ideas!  I’m not sure how many posts it will take to complete the series, but pay close attention because you may just think of the next million dollar app idea using some of these strategies!

One of the most basic principles of business is that you should help the consumer solve a problem or make his or her life easier.  This holds true in the vast majority of businesses, so why wouldn’t it hold true when it comes to app development?  People in general are naturally lazy, but that is not necessarily a bad thing!  Where would we be if people never wanted to make life easier for themselves?  We wouldn’t have the lightbulb – why do we need it when we could just use candles?  We wouldn’t have the airplane – why fly when we could just walk somewhere?  I don’t think I have to go on – you get the point.  Without people being naturally lazy and wanting things to be easier, we would still be living in caves!

So the first thing I would suggest you do if you want to come up with a killer app idea is to brainstorm what your problems are.  Whether they are big problems that you experience every day or just little annoying things that you have to deal with once in a while, make a list of them.  I know that it can be really hard to think of your own problems when you are sitting down and brainstorming.  However, just by being observant as you go throughout your day, you will find that you can come up with lots of little problems you have or things that make you frustrated.

You also shouldn’t limit yourself to solving just your problems though!  As you go throughout your day, I’m sure you hear people complaining about their problems as well – you just don’t realize it.  When engaging in everyday conversation, listen for “problem keywords” such as:

  • I hate…
  • This sucks!
  • I wish…

If you keep your ears open for these keywords, you will likely find that people you talk to everyday are literally spoon-feeding you problems that you could solve with an app!  It honestly couldn’t be easier!

After about a week or so of being really observant as you go about your daily routine, I’m sure you can come up with a decent sized list of problems that need solutions.  However, why limit your list to just problems that the people you talk to are experiencing?  What if there was an easy way to find out what every one else in the world’s problems are as well?  Well, luckily there is – and you probably use it every day!

The best tool by far for finding out what problems people all over the world are having is Twitter!  At least once a week I head over to search.twitter.com and search for the “problem keywords” we discussed before.  Yes, there are a lot of junk tweets of people complaining about how their life sucks, their boyfriend dumped them, etc. but there are also tons of people complaining about legitimate problems that you could solve with an app!  I literally just took 5 minutes to take a quick look at Twitter and here are a few problems I found:

Twitter Problem 1


Personally, I’ve never had the need to delete lots of emails fast since I never delete any emails (just in case I ever need them again).  However, I’m sure lots of other people have this problem as well.  It’s just a matter of doing a little research now to see if there is enough of a demand and what your competition looks like in the App Store (is there any?).

Twitter Problem 2

Ok, at first glance this seems like a really stupid idea however after giving it a bit more thought it sounds like it has at least a little bit of potential.  Really popular singers and bands’ shows get sold out pretty much no matter what, but a lot of the time ticket scalpers (people who buy tickets and then resell them for a profit) get a good percentage of the tickets and make real fans pay a hefty price for them.  Wouldn’t the top singers and bands want to do what’s best for their real fans?  So maybe they would consider signing up to sell their tickets (or at least a portion of them) through an app that gives people a short test (on song titles, lyrics, etc.) to make sure that real fans are the ones buying the tickets, not scalpers.  This idea would be tough to execute, but has some potential if done right.

Twitter Problem 3

So this isn’t a legitimate problem, but when I saw this tweet I immediately thought that this has a potential to be some sort of game/gag app.  The app would let you “build a boyfriend” for you piece by piece.  Maybe you want The Situation’s abs, Ashton Kutcher’s hair, and Justin Beiber’s face?  The app would let you pick different body parts from different celebrities and combine them to form your dream boyfriend!  There might be something like this out there already, but it sounds like an app that has a lot of potential to me!

Twitter Problem 4

Genius!  What teenager wouldn’t want advanced warning when their parents were about to come in the door?  Maybe the app would send the user a text message when a new wireless device connects to the Wi-Fi, so when their parents pull up in the driveway their phone would auto-connect to the Wi-Fi and alert the teen that their parents are about to walk in.  Would also be great for surprise parties so that everyone is hidden when the birthday boy or girl walks in the house!

So after only 5 minutes of searching Twitter, I came up with 4 pretty decent app ideas!  The best part is that since so many people complain on Twitter, you will NEVER run out of new problems to solve!

Hopefully, by now you realize that problems are everywhere and a large majority of them can be solved (or at least help to be solved) with an app.  At first, don’t even think about how you can solve people’s problems with an app – just write the problems down.  Later, you can come back and try to solve them.

I hope that this post gets you motivated to go out and find some great problems to solve with an app!  And the best part about making an app that solves problems is that you are literally changing the world for the better.  You are making someone else’s life (maybe even yours) easier and that is something to be proud of!

So, what do you think?  Do any of the app ideas I mentioned in this post have potential?  Have you found any problems to solve yet?  Let me know in the comments section below!


  1. That’s a great point on how to sieve out potential app ideas.
    Many app developers spend too much time trying to come up with
    something fresh and original, and not enough time thinking about solving other
    people’s problems.

    Originality is overrated and a double edged sword.
    On one hand, you could be building something that turns out to the darling of the app world…
    on the other, your risk is higher, and you won’t have a proven audience.

    • Hey Shen – Exactly! Lots of people are hesitant to not make a completely original app because they don’t think it’s morally right – As long as you are IMPROVING upon an app and not directly COPYING it in my opinion it is perfectly fine!

      You are right when you say that you have a much higher risk when developing completely original apps. When your app is similar to one currently for sale, you can get an idea of how successful or unsuccessful you will be!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

      • Kenny Pratt says:

        I wanted to try doing the app you suggested about notifying the user when their parent is home and connects to the WiFi it alerts them. That would be stealing your idea, so I can’t do it. Is this true?

  2. Thomas,

    You are right, you need to find a problem and then solve it. This is how a business is born and if there is no problem, then there won’t be any money to be made.

    Also, improving an app is a good idea. I find that a lot of older apps are great, however, they lack a certain component that will make them even better and get more people aware of it.


    • Hey Adam! Yes – most people are chasing money when they should be chasing problems! Help other people and the money will come!

      You make a great point about older apps as well! A lot of them aren’t updated and fall behind on design, functionality, etc. If there’s a great older app that could be improved on, it could be a potential hit if you make it better!

  3. Krishna says:

    Thomas – Yes this is perfectly correct. To our surprise, I stumbled on your site from another site. In fact, solving problems make you a happier person and who doesn’t want to be happy!!!

    Happiness is about knowing your passion, finding out what you are good at, and solving problems – that can be of other’s as well.


    • Hey Krishna – Thanks for stopping by! Totally agree with you – it’s an awesome feeling to know that you are helping solve people’s problems!

  4. I agree that potential problems will present themselves everyday but they are not spoon fed. Spotting the problem might not be easy since the problem may just be the way things have always been done. You also need to get out and walk in the shoes of others to get great exposure to sources of problems. Simply imagining a problem isn’t as good.

    It sounds old-fashioned compared to Twitter but reading the newspaper, business presss, and trade journals. Ultimately, you can’t beat a face-to-face conversation.

    I wrote up my thoughts on how to come up with app or business ideas:

    • Yeah, finding ideas can definitely be challenging. One thing I notice is that it’s a lot easier to notice other people’s “pains” than your own, simply because your own pains are so much of an everyday part of your life that you barely notice them at all. So listening to others and especially having face-to-face conversations will help uncover new ideas. Most importantly though is being in an entrepreneurial mindset 24/7. I think we all see potential successful business ideas EVERY DAY – we just don’t connect the dots and realize it.

      • The worst is seeing something that you already thought of and realizing it earned the creator a fortune. Then again, ideas are a dime a dozen and whoever takes the risk to execute successfully deserves the rewards. I have lots of ideas but realize that without a passion for them they will go nowhere. It’s simply too big a sacrifice of time and energy to pursue a venture you heart isn’t in.

  5. Kenny Pratt says:

    I wanted to try doing the app you suggested about notifying the user when their parent is home and connects to the WiFi it alerts them. That would be stealing your idea, so I can’t do it. Is this true?

  6. Kenny Pratt says:

    Hello Thomas,

    I wanted to try doing the app you suggested about notifying the user when their parent is home and connects to the WiFi it alerts them. That would be stealing your idea, so I can’t do it. Is this true

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