Problems vs Opportunities
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the differences between going after a business opportunity (vitamin) vs solving a real problem (painkiller). It’s not that one is better than the other. There are plenty of fantastic “vitamin” businesses that have gone after an opportunity in the market and “created” a problem for their solution.
But there’s another important distinction: is the problem a real, life-changing problem that will genuinely make someone’s life better, or is it a http://whitewhine.com problem (“My wallet is so full, that when I put it in my back pocket, it screws up my posture”)
I, and most people I come in contact with, live in a bubble relative to the majority of people on this planet. The problems we face, which entrepreneurs attempt to fix, are pretty ridiculous:
- “Video sharing on mobile is broken!”
- “We need to take the work out of networking!”
- “Finding movies I like is such a pain in the ass!”
- “I spend far too much time doing email!”
Fortunately these problems represent a significant market size (i.e. there are people who will pay money to have these problems solved).
Unfortunately, existential problems of the majority of the world’s population that really should get solved don’t represent a significant revenue opportunity, and aren’t viable businesses as a result. Sure there are NGOs, social entrepreneurs and programs like Google’s Project 10 to the 100, but I wonder when the regular, hungry entrepreneurs will start to focus on solving problems of people with no wallets. What’s it gonna take?