This topic is something I have been wanting to put down since of late. The idea of this post is to discuss the nature of two basic factors of any startup idea. The two factors being the problem and the solution (… yes im serious). I know what you are thinking.. its just way too basic that any business idea cannot exist without these two factors. True enough, but are they always basis of new product ideas? Something that you see quite often is startups that come up with products for a given space just because the space is “hot” OR because you can easily build a product to compete in the space OR even for fact that there is plenty of money to be made in a given space. And these products most of the time compliment the space than dominating them for they were not built for the right reasons.
So what am I really trying to say? I guess what I am trying to say is that, you will be in the best position to start something if you fit the below explained criteria. This at the same time doesn’t in any way mean that you have to fit this criteria to come up with a good startup idea.
The Problem : Feel the pain
For an idea to form the pain needs to be felt. The problem needs to be something that is experienced by you. At least it needs to be something you understand well and know how it feels to face this problem on a regular basis. This inherently gives you a detailed understanding of the pain and why the problem exists. When you understand a problem well, you generally would be connected to a community who understand this problem as well. This intern gives you the ability to explore different perspective of the same problem. Since you do understand the problem you would already know the available solutions to this problem if they do exist. And you would also know why these solutions might be less than ideal.
The Solution : Turn the pain into joy!
The solution for the problem should eliminate everything that is a pain and turn the whole process into pure joy. Now to do this you have to come up with the perfect solution that eliminates all the little difficulties and pains in the process. To desing such solution you must be that smart guy with the problem solving skills engraved deep into your genes. You are able to come up with a better solution than your competitors because one of the key reasons for you to start this idea itself is your competing product’s incompetence. As you develop your idea and concept you will again be in a better position since you are connected to people who are looking for the solution on a regular basis who will be able to give you constructive feedback and even commit a purchase!
All in all you will always have the upper hand in putting together a good startup idea, if you are dealing with something that you well understand and are well connected to. Following are some of the products/companies that I found to have built good products that solve the problem well and have good adoption in their respective markets.
Solving a very specific problem that has almost no competition. The problem does exist but the problem is niche enough that a good solution has not been come up until this one. String from My Gengo is a tool that enables you manage your language bundles against it’s translations. When you have an application that is in multiple languages, its quite a hassle to manages text changes across all translations. The translation company My Gengo being the ideal people who understand the problem came up with the ideal solution.
A problem that has been solved many times but not so quite well. A former engineer at Adobe saw the problem and understood what was needed for him to get a simple wireframe drawn. Quickly put together a wire-framing tool that is making history because if it’s simplicity and completeness of solving the problem. The guy was facing the problem regularly and he sure was smart enough to get the job done right!
I tried not to bring in facebook! but you know what.. it fits the case so well. Zuckerburg saw the problem and felt it. Thats what made Facebook different than any other social networks. Being part of the problem helped Zuckerburg put in the right touches to get it to where it is today.
Would love to hear any thoughts about this topic in general? Please comment.