Chapter 7Knowing your how

‘If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.’

Isaac Newton

Today I work with many entrepreneurs to help them validate market appetite for their ideas before they go off and build them. I always begin with one simple question: ‘How is this problem currently being solved?’ They’ll usually fire back with something like their idea being a little bit better or a little bit cheaper or having some ‘killer’ feature. But being a little bit better or a little bit cheaper is usually a fatal combination for a business entering an established market. Not being remarkably better sets you up for a race to the bottom in what becomes a blood red ocean.

One night I was on a judging panel at a startup pitching event in Melbourne, where I had to provide constructive feedback to up-and-coming entrepreneurs who had decided to share their idea in front of 100 people. One idea was for a YouTube content parental control system, and my conversation with its promoter went something like this.

‘How is this problem currently being solved?’

‘Well, YouTube has its own built-in parental control system, and there are a number of competitors out there, but none of them do what we do.’

‘Oh, and what’s that?’

‘We make it easier to configure.’

‘Okay, great, so you’re a little bit better at configuration.’

‘Yes …’

‘Do you think that in this world of marketing messages and demands on our attention, being a little bit better than YouTube’s built-in system will get ...

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