If solving a problem for someone, who is willing to pay for getting the problem solved, is paramount to business success, how come we don’t spend more time and effort identifying and understanding the problem, before we try to build solutions for ‘it’?
I ask because just yesterday I once again met a startup that fits the profile of companies going about this the most risky way (I won’t say wrong, but I am sure you understand where I am coming from).
They are in the fintech space. They are a great team who have known each other for years. In terms of competencies they check all the boxes and they have also received early stage funding. So far so good.
But – and this is the big but – they have been so busy building their tech platform and focusing on the supplier side of their perceived problem that they have completely left out any sort of meaningful understanding of the demand side of things. And you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that if you don’t understand what is going to drive demand – the need in the market – it just became awfully hard if not downright impossible to build a sustainable business.
You can say this is coming sense. But I would suggest we’re drifting into lunacy. Because what we time and time again celebrate in tech/startup circles is technology and how we can use that to build clever solutions. We seldom, rarely, ever discuss out ability to understand the real problem in the market we’re looking to solve. We run around with our screwdriver but we have no idea of whether the world is only made up of nails.
For me this causes concern. Because it leads me to think that a lot of the celebrated startup communities, we’re so busy hyping are essentially built on quicksand. The startup I met yesterday is – unless they radically change course and address the above issue – on a dead set track for the deadpool together with all the other startups that essentially die, because they have been so busy building something that they have forgot to build something valuable to customers. How many more startups like that do we have out there? My best guesstimate is a lot.
And it becomes all the more sad because we actually have all the tools necessary to do the preliminary work and heavily reduce risk of failure. We could potentially build more companies that last, provide jobs, create growth in society and enrich the founders on the longer term. But by celebrating essentially the least important part of the equation – the technology – we have set ourselves up to fail on a massive scale.