How do you know if your startup is solving a critical problem?
You can survey your users, conduct user interviews, and run a/b testing experiments to try to get your answer. No matter what method you use, parsing out reality is really hard, especially for entrepreneurs (see Reality Distortion Field & I Don't Know).
I was talking to Joshua Porter, my co-founder at Performable, today, about a certain app we use internally and how bad and confusing their UI is. Despite this, we use the app almost every single day. And we're not alone -- they have tens of thousands of customers.
Why do we continue to use this app? Because it solves a critical problem; it's a utility we need to run our business and, despite its shortcomings, the app is better than anything else we've tried.
So how do you know if your startup's product is solving a critical problem? After years of trying to figure this out at multiple startups I'm starting to get the hang of it. ;-)
If you repeatedly hear any of the following comments, chances are you are not solving a critical problem:
- "If you made your app easier to use I would start using it."
- "I'm really busy right now but I'll start using your app soon."
- "If your app was cheaper I would start using it." (contributed by Josh)
Sounds familiar? Is it time to admit you're in trouble? Don't panic, just stop now and reevaluate whether you need to resegment your product/audience, change your pricing, or pivot your entire product.
Question: How did you figure out that no one cared about your product? (I'd love to hear about it in the comments.)