What Is Your Problem?

(The importance of entrepreneurs understanding the problem before defining the solution).

If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.

Albert Einstein (allegedly)

Advice to entrepreneurs when pitching investors:

In meetings where an entrepreneur is explaining their startup to me, the solution (the product) is often explained first. I'm trying to make sense of this solution without much information on what is surely the most important part of the equation; the problem.

If I understood the problem better, I'd have a much better chance of deciding whether the solution makes sense.

You can briefly explain the solution to provide context and an introduction, but before getting into too much detail, make sure that the problem is explained properly.

Therefore my advice to entrepreneurs is to...

  • first make sure that you've properly understood your customers' needs
  • then explain the need you are going to solve
    • explain why your customers behave the way they do
    • show you understand both the rational and emotional drivers of their behaviour
    • explain who has this need
    • describe the size of the problem in terms of how many people have this need
    • tell me how you know all of this to be true
  • then, and only then, pitch the details your solution

My opinion of the solution depends on my understanding of the problem.

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