Focus on the what not the how
(at minute 5:58)
If you spend any amount of time around startups, you won't hear many phrases more than "product-market fit." It's used so much for good reason...until some percent of your users love what you are doing, nothing else matters. Sidenote: the definition of "love" can be found here.
Whenever I think about this topic, I always think of a famous quote by Albert Einstein...
“If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions."
To put this quote in a startup context, if you have a problem to solve (eg there's no good app to find babysitters at the last minute), I'd recommend that founders spend the vast majority of the time thinking about all the facets of the the problem for the customer (the "what") and less on all the topics that surround designing and building a technology product (the "how").
In my babysitting app example, think of all the human issues related to that topic. Just off the top of my head, here are just a few...
Someone's child is the most important thing in the world to them.
Children typically bond with one sitter, so "Uber for sitters" might not work if you sending different sitters each time.
Regardless of whether you decide to be "Uber for sitters" or not, there's risk that customers will just use your platform to find a great babysitter and then pull them off your platform.
No technology will solve the most important human issues here. These issues have to be reconciled with your business model before any technology is built.
In this podcast, an experienced founder/investor/engineer says that if he could go back and give his younger self some advice he says he'd tell himself not to focus on things that users don't see and shouldn't care about. He used the example of a cookie. Cookie eaters don't care about the equipment used or other characteristics of the kitchen where the cookie was made...they just care about the taste of the cookie.
What users DON'T care about with startups...
What technologies are you using to design the system?
How does the architecture work?
What frameworks are you using?
What users DO care about with startups...
What problem are you solving?
Is this a real problem?
How are you solving it (ie the user experience)?
Most problems today (especially ones for consumers) aren't technology problems...they are human problems. And human problems are solved by understanding human behaviors more than anything related to technology.
And if you are particularly interested in other posts about product-market fit, here are all my blog posts tagged “product market fit."
Get Right to the Lesson
I’d recommend listening to the entire thing, but to get right to the point go to minute 5:58 of this podcast.
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
Eric Feng (@efeng), Partner at Kleiner Perkins (@kpcb)
Jenna Abdou (@jennaabdou)
Moe Abdou (@moeabdou)
Sherry Abdou (@Sherry_Abdou)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.
The best startup advice from experienced founders...one real-world lesson at a time.