“Does your solution offers a painkiller or a vitamin to your users?”
“Hmm… from that perspective, vitamin, I guess, but…”
“You must pivot then!”
“Hmm… what? But…”
Unlike medical/military/financial startups, where the pain, urgency, market size and even business models are usually very obvious and immediate, in the consumer startups side, things tend to be more vague and fuzzy. Who can promise you that a 140-chars status is a worthy venture? That renting my car or my apartment for a few hours or days will reach critical mass? That yet another Q&A site for developers is really needed?
I believe that in today’s world, the interesting questions rise from behavior/usage patterns and market size. It’s not an immediate must-have versus nice-to-have, it’s about “how common”, “by how many” and HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CHANGE IT that can bring a difference to the world.
Take a look at Foursquare. Clearly far away from being a painkiller, they managed to take the usage pattern (you usually visit at least 3-5 places a day) and market size (everyone can do it at work-places/restaurants/pubs etc.) and made a difference. Spicing it up with some virality & stickiness aspects such as “Mayor of [place]”, some crazy badges like “Mr. Bill” and freebies as reward, Foursquare made it easy for people to spot new places. Instead of calling your friends, asking boring questions, you can simply see what’s popular from their interaction with the world.
Don’t be afraid when someone says “it’s not a painkiller”. Instead, quickly get out there and measure real world behavior & size of the problem. Maybe you’re on to something by making it simpler and more engaging.
Making something simpler for millions of people *is* a painkiller *to the world*.