The number one reason why startups fail is not “lack of funding” or “wrong team”. It is building the “wrong product” i.e. building something which nobody wants.
Not only have we seen numerous startups fail due to this reason but we ourselves are guilty of doing it more than once in last 14 years.
So how do you know if you are building the right product?
We believe one of the ways to know that, is asking the following question to yourself constantly.
“What is that one problem we are solving for the customers?”
To elaborate on it further:
What is that one core problem we are solving; so that our customers will use our product and refer it to others and there are enough such customers?
This question covers 3 important aspects for deriving the right product:
- There can only be one core problem. This forces you to remove clutter and helps you focus in one direction.
- The problem has to be worth solving. This helps you derive the value of your product.
- There should be enough real users. This helps you derive right-sized market.
It helps you avoid,
- Focusing on multiple problems
You can solve periphery problems necessary to solve the core problem but there cannot be more than one core problem.
- Solving wrong problems like,
The problems not worth solving.
The problems currently solved effectively by other products.
The problems that can only be solved after solving the core problem.
- Focusing on wrong customer segments
A very small group, which does not generate a meaningful business.
A group, which is very hard to reach.
A group, which is too generic.
So again repeating the question
“What is the one problem you are solving for your customers?”
Keep asking yourself this question regularly and avoid the deadly sin of building the wrong product.
I would like to end this article with a YC motto, which is also one of my all-time favorite quotes.
Make something people want.