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The UNSW entrepreneur
program share their tips to spark ideation.
30 July, 2020

Everything begins as an idea: The UNSW entrepreneur program share their tips to spark ideation

Fostering entrepreneurship and creative thinking, the UNSW Founders Program empowers their staff, students and alumni with the capability, mindset, networks and community they need to create positive economic, social and environmental impact.

First remembering ideation is about generating a broad set of ideas, the curious team shared their entrepreneurial mindset to inspire ONE IN/ ALL IN style thinking.

What’s equally as interesting as the tips themselves is their disparity. Where one focuses on important technique the other grapples ideas in uncharted territory.

It is so revealing, and it proves that no matter how entrepreneurial we think we are, our ideas are sparked by different stimulations.

Which leads us here, ideation generating tips from five in the field:

Nancy Torres - Entrepreneurship Officer

  1. Drawing Confidence: some people say, “I can’t draw”, yet it’s really cool to draw with simple shapes. Being silly and drawing together is like a team sport. You can manifest ideas and it is really inspiring and fun!
  2. Do a bad job: not caring so much about the result of the first iterations is such a challenge but once you change your mindset to feel ok with doing a bad job you know you will only improve.
  3. Time constraints: I can’t believe how cool it is to have only five minutes for a team to come up with a creative idea. The same thing can be applied to any project, having mini deadlines can force people to iterate many times.
  4. Go for an “unrelated task”: going for a walk, having an ice-cream, planting some seeds, having a shower, and doing my nails help me to put my mind in a different space. It helps if I’m relaxing or exercising and voila, some ideas might manifest!
  5. And my very best… stop trying, just do it: this is very difficult sometimes, but it always works! Drawing, writing, and showing your ugly prototype helps so much to create and improve an idea.

Laura Earl - Program Manager, MCIC Foundations

  1. Go to bed earlier. The amount of times I’ll be lying in bed trying to go to sleep and my brain will be bored and so I’ll start thinking of random things to go to sleep and then all kinds of ideas flourish.
  2. Think about the number 1 thing you would love right now and the number 1 thing annoying you and put them together to come up with something you want. My plants keep dying and I’ve given away my heater to a friend who needs it more than I do so today I wished for a plant that heated my room so I could have a nice warm green space.
  3. Biomimicry – this has to be one of my almost favourite things ever. Find things in nature that have the qualities you want in a new solution and see how you can build them. I watched the ‘making of World War Z’ and was inspired when they decided the actions the zombies would take were based on ants!
  4. Think of the simplest way to do something. If you hear people saying a problem what is the shortest simplest solution. My toilet roll inserts have been amazing iPad stands.
  5. Keep busy – I don’t have time to waste on things that won’t help me. So, to keep my solutions lean and mean, I keep busy. That way my brain doesn’t have time to overthink and just gets things done.

Afonso Goncalves - Operations Coordinator

  1. Increase volume – one way to come up with great ideas that will succeed is to have lots of ideas, so some end up being great ones. In order to increase how often you get lucky with an idea, you must increase the number of times you flip the coin.
  2. Copy others – the first step of the scientific method is observation. While you observe or try to replicate others work you will understand and find out more about how they work and how they can be improved, as well as gather knowledge about the problem you are trying to solve. This process can lead to your Eureka moment.

Gregory Davis - Prototype Manager

  1. Copy others. Use their patent! You can search for expired patents. You can search for patents about to expire. Sometimes even if people just miss their payment their IP is deemed to be public. You can also lease patents. But generally searching through submitted patents is a great way to apply novelty to a different area.
  2. Plasticine. Do not leave home without it. Explore shapes and forms on demand by moulding with plasticine. Don’t waste hours in CAD + 3D printing.
  3. Application transfer. Take a good idea and apply it elsewhere. Biro to roll on deodorant.
  4. Race the clock. Use time limits to force results when ideating. Limit your sketch to the amount of time you can hold your breath! :-)
  5. 100 ways. Ideate 100 ideas to the problem. Force yourself to go totally left field to bring to life the most creative methods to address a problem.

Fi Tschaut - Senior Manager, MCIC Networks & Programming

  1. Fall in love with everyday problems – every pain point, every friction is an opportunity for entrepreneurial intervention!
  2. Creativity and innovation mindsets are muscles – work on them!
  3. If you find yourself stuck go for a five-minute walk and then come back to it.
  4. Be kind to yourself, let go of being right and embrace uncertainly and especially crazy ideas.
  5. Set yourself goals during a brainstorming session e.g. 10 minutes, 10 ideas – you want to be able to come up with as many ideas as possible. Train yourself to be flexible with your thinking and your ability to come up with lots of ideas.

Find out more about the UNSW Founders Program at: