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ENT 422 - Generation & Screening of Entrepreneurial Ideas: Home

Library resources suggested for this class.

Concept Threshold

Searching as Strategic Exploration

  • Realize that information sources vary greatly in content and format and have varying relevance and value, depending on the needs and nature of your search.
  • Recognize the value of browsing and other serendipitous methods of information gathering.

Library Session Worksheet

Resources for the Idea Thickening Process

Here are a few tips to for researching:

  • Google isn't always helpful. The best business information is not free, but library does subscribe to numerous resources. When you do use Google, try using some advanced search functionality to make your search more effective. For more on advanced google search operators check out Google help and this support page from
  • When using these databases, adjust your search terms if you're not getting the results you hoped for--try synonyms and scour article titles, abstracts, and subject headings in your search results for likely search terms to use.  Sometimes a thesaurus or encyclopedia come in handy when brainstorming search terms.
  • Use double quotes to search multiple words as a phrase (e.g. "new age" finds these terms in exact order).
  • Use an asterisk to substitute for letters at the end of a word (e.g. crit* finds critic, criticism, critique etc.).
  • If you can't find what you're looking for, schedule an appointment!

For the Product questions:  How unique? How concise? How protectable is it?  Try:


* NEW: Innovation Q Plus! Innovation Q Plus is a patent search tool that rapidly sifts through data and uses advanced technologies to quickly and efficiently pinpoint relevant patents, applications, and non-patent literature from IEEE. There are visualizations, advanced features, and the ability to locate "similar" patents to the target one.
Users are encouraged to sign up for individual accounts to access certain advanced functionality.

And of course lots of Googling (you're allowed to Google here ;). Additional ideas:  Craigslist and Angie's List (especially if you're thinking of a "service" idea) and maybe some checking in the article and news databases listed under Market, to get a sense of the "space."

Ah, the Market questions! (Is there a problem today? Is this a big problem?) - this is where library databases - and some free resources - shine. To "quantify the pain," you'll want to collect whatever statistics might demonstrate the size and scope of the problem your idea will solve. These might be demographic stats, industry stats, etc. This tab focusses on sources for Demographic data, Consumer data, and multi-purpose statistics databases. For Industry data see the Market 2 tab; for "funding"-type data see the Market 3 tab.

Next: is there an industry or market research report on or close to your idea available from our resources? Here are 3 "all purpose" industry/market research databases:


The following databases are our best resources for hi-tech or medical/pharma industry/market research:


If your idea is more consumer or "daily life products"-oriented, try:


But maybe there isn't a nice, prepackaged, someone-else-did-the-work-for-you report that is available from a library database. Then it's time to "comb for crumbs" from the article databases, picking up a number here, a factoid there. Yes, it's a lot more work - but who said this would be easy? Toughen Up! ;)

[Note: please, PLEASE do not Google for market research! You will probably find something that looks perfect but NO it is not accessible to us, and NO, sorry, I cannot buy that $7000 report for you...]

Comparables - who is in the space already? Are there any companies similar to yours? "Who recently bought who? for how much?" And, where are they? (if "where" matters)

As you can see by their descriptions, CB Insights and PrivCo provide information about deals, M&A, "who bought who and for how much" - but another source of this kind of information is MarketLine:


Last, to get an idea of "how many companies of this type are out there, and where are they?" - try the U.S. Businesses and U.S. New Businesses sections of Reference USA:

For the Team questions "Who's already committed? Can a full team be assembled?" - well... those probably can't be answered by library resources. For the question, "What does the team need to start working?" - again, that might be up to you to figure out, but if there's a business plan similar to your idea in the following resource, it might help:


For the question "Does this fit into a supply chain?" - maybe you need to learn something more about supply chains! :) Try the following:

And for even more... the following link runs a search in our library catalog to produce a list of books on "Business Logistics" (the formal name for "supply chains" ;)

And finally we come to the Business part of the hierarchy, and its questions. I'm not sure how you'd answer "Can each unit make a profit?" and "How much is already done? (Risks)" but "How long will this take?" and "How much money is needed?" might be approached using the following resources:

For "how long?" try CB Insights and/or PrivCo, find a company similar to your vision, and see how long it took THEM:

For "how much money..." you might again get ideas from your research in CB Insights or PrivCo; but to estimate specific costs, here are two ideas:

  • See if there is a business plan analogous to yours that includes a financial breakdown in the Business Plans Handbook, OR,
  • Determine a large public company that represents what you want to be "when you grow up." Look it up in OneSource, and make an educated downward revision of their balance sheet, income statement, etc. financials. 

And you might take a look at this (e)book for more guidance about what it takes to bring a technology product to market:

General Entrepreneurship Resources

Business Librarian

Robert Berkman's picture
Robert Berkman
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Learning Initiatives; Rush Rhees Library, 500 Joseph C. Wilson Blvd. Rochester NY 14627