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The Heretic is a free dispatch delivering insights into what it takes to lead into & in the unknown. For entrepreneurs, corporate irritants and change makers. Raw, unfiltered and opinionated.

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Jun 23rd, 2013 Share: Share on Twitter Share on Facebook Share on LinkedIn

Are you solving the right problem?

I spent the last week in Boulder, Colorado, working alongside the 2013 fellows at the incredible Unreasonable Institute. Between mentoring the teams , running workshops and working my day job at Mozilla I ended up with about 3–4 hours of sleep per day. It was awesome.

One of the things which struck me most with the Unreasonable fellows was that they all started their respective ventures from a problem statement point of view. They all observed a problem (e.g. lack of access to affordable medical care in rural India) and then designed their specific solution towards this problem. With a lot of tech companies (especially the Silicon Valley crowd) this process is the exact opposite: They design a piece of technology and then try to find a problem to solve.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. Sometimes you need to work this way to create breakthrough innovation (the famous 3M sticky notes were invented that way) but more often than not these companies end up scrambling to find their market whereas the companies which start from a problem statement tend to fare much better.

Ask yourself: Which problem are you solving? And does your customer see it the same way? If you don’t solve a problem, you don’t have a market.

P.S. My apologies for not bringing you your daily dose of The Heretic — the Unreasonables took all out of me. In a good way. :)

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