Startups are all the buzz in Nigeria currently. We hear a lot of entrepreneurial breakthroughs from startups and a lot of success stories and venture capital funding that follow. We know about a couple of Nigerian fintech startups that have attracted significant investor attention, for example, Paystack, Flutterwave, and Opay. There are also others like Autocheck and Eden that are also well known in the Nigerian space.
Most people just know about their successes. are impressed and are attracted to take the plunge in entrepreneurship. However, they do not know the amount of thought process. work, dedication, and time a lot of these take from starting up, growing ant to getting investment finance activities for expansion purposes. There is therefore a rush by many young Nigerians to delve into tech and digital startups attracted by these boisterous successes without doing sufficient analysis of their plan in this complex journey.
Before you drop that resignation letter in your current employment and jump to become a startup entrepreneur, below is a list of things to consider.
What Is The Problem You Want To Solve?
Tony Robbins once said, “Problems are the gifts that make us dig out and figure out who we are, what we’re made for, and what we’re responsible to give back to life.” Without a clear problem statement, there would be no need to create a solution. Finding a problem one can solve is the first step in trying to launch a startup. Essentially, one has to find a problem that needs a solution or at least, a better solution or value add to what is currently existing. Facebook was created as a solution to social networking within campuses.1 Uber was created as a solution to easy and fast taxi access. Paystack was created as a payment portal for multiple platforms.
The key thing here is to find a problem YOU can solve. I have seen a lot of budding entrepreneurs or startups that are working on problems that are not well defined or they do not fully understand or they obviously have no passion or patience to solve. In some others, the problems are too complicated that the startup needs to focus on a subset of the bigger problem. The key is to think simple, think clear, think impact.
Does Every Problem Have A Solution?
Though every problem they say, has a solution, for an entrepreneur, not every solution is viable to invest time and resources in. It also depends on the expertise, experience, and sometimes, the financial capability of the startup. The minimum viable product (MVP) is the initial solution the startup or entrepreneur provides in response to the clearly articulated problem. It is what is tested out in the market or with the customers to give an idea about receptibility. Developing an MVP can be an easy or difficult exercise depending on the initial problem chosen and how it is defined. Hence why the problem statement has to be clear ab initio or the chances of failure increases astronomically.
The general rule of thumb is to keep the MVP very simple with success or failure easy to measure or track.
Customer Problem to Solution Mapping
Who are those you are trying to solve the problem for and are these target customers willing to utilize your solution? Do they even have access to the solution? At this stage, we are not even talking about paying for the solution- the key is the utilization or market access to the solution or the edge the solution has over the status quo. For example, I am sure we have all seen very low-income areas in Nigeria and the problem with transportation. In some locations, you would see rickety busses or cabs that may look unsafe to move around with. Imagine a startup bringing Chauffeur driven cars as a solution to the transport challenge. It seems good, but are there sufficient people that could access and afford it?
A lot of ideas, concepts, initiatives, and investments get sunk just because of a very weak customer problem to solution matching.
In summary, If one does not have a clear problem statement with at least an MVP for the solution, and does not have a line of sight of the customers who have the challenge and are willing to access your solution, then please go back to the drawing board.
In the second part of this blog, we would discuss more on verifying the MVP and launch strategy.