One of the more curious side-effects of Silicon Valley-Mania are countless startups which seem to solve no apparent problem at all. Or as Pablos Holman recently said in a talk at Singularity University: When founders run out of problems to solve, they start making problems up.
The irony, of course, is that there is surely no shortage of problems to solve in the world. And when I say “problems” I mean problems with a capital “P”.
How do you find a problem worth solving then?
Well, I would start out with immersing yourself into a problem space — something you are interested in or curious about. That could be a geographic context (always wanted to explore the African continent? Go!), a demographic context (wonder how the elderly use technology — go and volunteer in an old people’s home!), a socio-demographic context (grew up middle-class like yours truly? Go and immerse yourself in the working class quarters of your town!) or any other context.
Find something you are interested in. Flex your empathy muscle. Become curious.
To solve an interesting problem, start by finding a problem that is interesting to you.