Back in 2012, I was participating in a competition of young startups and entrepreneurs who were presenting their ideas before a panel. There was this very enthusiastic and smart guy amongst us who seemed very excited and confident about his product. He had made a shoe which could charge your mobile battery. It produced electricity using the pressure created below your feet while walking. A mobile battery could be fitted near the foot sole which then you can later put in your phone.
Image only for reference.
It was truly a remarkable product for that time especially for people like travelers, trekkers, salesman, etc. who wouldn’t find a power source often and needed to charge their phones. He had all the estimates ready of how much market it would capture and how many people it would impact. Most importantly he claimed that there is no competition for his product as it is the only of its kind in the market. He was truly impressive in his presentation and undoubtedly won the competition and a lot of praise from the judges. It was clear that the guy had put a lot of hard work on his product.
Today it is 2023 and it wouldn’t take us much thought to realise why the product is useless. Most people use smartphones today which do not have replaceable batteries. That was not the case so much in 2012. Secondly, power banks have now captured the market which addresses the problem with charging phones having limited power sources. Plus the battery capacity has also been increasing.
So where did the guy fail?
In Entrepreneurship, it is generally said that one should not fall in love with the solution. But rather with the problem. Or else you would be overwhelmed by your solution and miss out other ways of looking at the problem.
So when the above guy believed that there was no competition for his product, he believed that his solution is the only solution available. He could not imagine that the problem can be solved in other ways or his solution will become redundant due to external factors. So technically a power bank manufacturer, or any mobile battery manufacturers attempting to increase its power capacity, were his potential competitors even when the products were different.
So while it is good to love your idea and your solution, a startup might fail if the ‘problem’ is not the first love. A love for the solution might close your mind, but loving the problem might just open it up.