What were your startups

In the beginning there was the problem - start-ups turn them into business ideas

There is a problem? Then find a solution ... and ideally turn it into a successful business idea. You can find out how to do this and examples of start-ups that have done exactly this in the Startup Navigator of Frankfurter Allgemeine Buch and in this excerpt.

In order to tackle an identified problem, you first have to narrow it down and analyze it or, as the saying goes: "No pain, no gain!"

  • How is the problem currently being solved and what is the current solution in detail?
  • Or is there still no solution?
  • If that's the case, ask yourself: "Why not?"
  • Have there been any attempts in the past by entrepreneurs and visionaries who tried their hand at it and ultimately failed?
  • If so, it is worth taking a closer look. What were the reasons?

Many a start-up was on the track of the right problem, but did not find the right solution or was simply too early on the market.

Because many good ideas in the past failed because of the »timing« when the market or, more precisely, the customers were not yet ready for the product. What inspires the »technology freak«, for example, can easily overwhelm the normal consumer and so one is aiming at the mass market. Apple also had to experience this: In the 80s and 90s, Apple was by far the innovation leader in its industry. The California company brought the first computer mouse onto the market, developed the first operating system with a graphical user interface and also the first laptop. But Apple did not succeed in conquering the mass market beyond the »fan base«. As a result, Apple nearly went bankrupt in 1997.

The expression “being ahead of your time” may be used with positive connotations, but in the startup world this can mean the beginning of the end.

Because one of the main reasons why startups fail is still a simple one: no market need.

To prevent this, you have to think of the solution from the market and not take it personally, otherwise the startup will remain small, says Valentin Stalf, who enables complete account management via the smartphone with the N26 account app. Stalf combines his vision for the size of the market with the maturity of technology to grow his startup N26 with prominent investors as quickly as possible.

With this think-big mentality, he follows the US model of striving for solutions for the international market - which Lea von Bidder also pursued in Silicon Valley or at the time drove the Doodle founders in Zurich.

All the better if you offer your solution in a market that is not only large, but also growing, because as a start-up you are not digging the drain of your competitors.

The startup On Running was able to assert itself in the market for running shoes against established giants such as Nike, Adidas and Puma. According to co-founder Caspar Coppetti, the running shoe market is growing by around 4–5% per year, has a turnover of around 20 billion euros, and is as large as the market for football, basketball and tennis combined. The advantage of a large, growing market is that as a newcomer you don't consciously take market share from anyone. After all, the market is growing for everyone!

Inspire with your solution! - Objective: recall

Your solution is, so to speak, the heart of your project and the starting point, what everything else will revolve and build around. That is why it is important to proceed here with the utmost care and "passion". This becomes clear when you present your solution - the gains for the customer; But not only for the classic presentation to investors, but also for other events in the scene such as aperitifs and network meetings.

You should be trained to present your solution to your counterpart as clearly and understandably as possible within 30 seconds.

In startup jargon, this art is called »elevator pitch«. It originally comes from the American context. Metaphorically, you use a single elevator ride in a high-rise building to present your idea to your "lift partner" as enthusiastically as possible. The aim is, even today, to convince the investor, partner or coach in the shortest possible time that this person absolutely wants to find out more and that you get an appointment for a longer conversation (»recall«), during which you can also talk about details can and has such a foot in the door.

Everyone solves the problem differently!

Remember that a solution to a problem is always of a unique and individual nature, depending on which entrepreneur or team takes on the solution. Let's take the bags of the Freitag brothers from Zurich as an example. Confronted with the problem that the goods they delivered to customers as bicycle couriers in their student days often got wet on rainy days, they found a unique solution that only they could develop in this form.

Markus Freitag says: "Since I've never driven a car, but I've always ridden my bike, I know that life needs a robust, water-repellent, functional bag." When she looked out of her student apartment at the trucks, cars and bicycles thundering by as design students they had the inspiration and the skills to make waterproof messenger bags from truck tarpaulins, which solved the problem of weather resistance. The wow factor: the bags produced are all unique items for which customers are willing to pay a high price. With their bags, the Freitag brothers are solving an even more lucrative business problem for a broader group of customers: Trashy designer bags that give the wearer that certain something of individuality that sets them apart from the crowd. The high margin that the brothers Daniel and Markus Freitag also achieve with the margin between the materials made from garbage - used truck tarpaulins, bicycle tubes and seat belts - and the high-priced products as originals ensures rapid growth for the startup and the Friday brothers the opportunity to solve other exciting problems.

Certainly a different team - confronted with the same problem - would have come up with completely different solutions. Therefore, the execution of the solution is the central point and not the solution (or idea) in and of itself. Because it often lets you run into a different problem that is more promising for a startup than the original problem.

Book tip: Startup Navigator

With the "Startup Navigator" everyone should learn how to successfully implement initial concepts. The team of authors, made up of experienced practitioners and researchers, has written a manual for using the Startup Navigator directly. Founders who have successfully applied the Navigator's methods guide the reader through the individual steps of the process.

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