CHENNAI: I was at two hackathons recently. EXCITE at JNTU and the Hyderabad edition of AngelHack. It was reassuring to see the steep jump in the depth of ideas, quality of teams and the view of the markets. From a contemporary yet fresh take on location-based sharing of pictures that trigger social conversations. To a Pebble watch solution connected to IoT sensors for security at home. To a solution that connects various social networks and extracts info in professionals. And then some. Many of the teams are very serious about pursuing further with their ideas.
That said, one common issue with early stage startups, which is evident is the lack of a purposeful user angle. While commitment is great, passion to start is encouraging, and technical drive is surely world class, the market view is superfluous.
These are not just cliches. Simple economics. User has a problem that is causing some commercial cost/loss either through incomplete solution or inherent inefficiencies or errors in process, or just high cost.
If the startup can find a way of improving any of these aspects that result in stemming the commercial cost or loss, we are in business. Simple. When assessing an idea, the first question to ask is – what need of the users is the startup addressing? Is that need so compelling that the user is willing to pay to get a solution? If need is present and compelling, the next consideration is what the incumbent alternate solutions are. Is the startup solution technically and commercially feasible?
These are the simple questions to ask when ideating for a new startup. Whether a product or a service, all above are required to make the idea interesting and compelling.
Further down the startup prototyping journey, the market acquisition angle and GTMs also start becoming critical. Before going through and last seed investment stage. But in the initial stages just establishing a compelling need, feasible solution and viable unit and scale economics are the key. Not difficult at all. Happy starting up!
(The writer is MD and VP-Products at Progress Software and advisor to Incubator at IIT Hyderabad)