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Does Your New Business Idea Solve a Real Customer Problem?

By | Chris Nicholson |

True story: My father works in real estate. He’s spent the last fifty years constructing houses, condos, and office buildings. Now in his eighties, with several projects under way, he apparently plans to die in his boots. I tell people he has a building complex.


That used to just be a joke about my dad. But then I came to Silicon Valley, and I saw building complexes everywhere. The bad kind!

Everybody is building. They have been told they should by prominent investors. They talk about their new business idea, their product, their team, their startup, their pricing model, and go-to-market strategy. But a very large number of them have no idea whether they are building something people want. Which means they are building too soon.

Sometimes, when an early-stage founder asks me for advice, I try to have that conversation with them. I tell them they should go out and meet people who might have the problem that they think their product solves. They should hold the problem for a while.

And then an interesting thing happens. They find a lot of reasons not to talk to the people who might have the problem. They keep building something based on their new business idea, but they don’t know for whom.

When launching a business, are people necessary?

One early-stage founder told me, “I just need to apply for my business license so that I can put ads on Google so that I can find out if people will click.”

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