Breaking problems down

A few weeks ago I read a blog post by Tom Tunguz, which basically split product features into 3: MMRs (minimum market requirements), Differentiators, Neutraliser, which is a brilliant segmentation of product feature. Do read the post.

Segmentation Simplifies

Segmentation is a very powerful concept in every field. While the concept is popular in the marketing field, it is either knowingly or unknowing used in every vertical of an organization. The advantage of breaking down problems, products, metrics, leads, clients or anything else for that matter is the simplification of whatever task you are working on.
On the sales side, prospects are always segmented into high tickets/whales or low ticket/long tail. Sales & Business Development teams are at times segmented by the role, there are the hunters who job it is to get new clients on board and farmers, who specialize in growing current account. Breaking the Sales problem into distinct segments, the way to approach the problem becomes clear.
Marketing usually pushes the limits of segmentation. From drive-by users to abandoned carts, users can be segmented into micro-segments which have distinct messages and offers for each segment.

Breaking Problems down for founders.

From a founder perspective, taking all your goals for the year and breaking them down is the sanest mechanism when working to build a rocket-ship. You can break it down in whatever way that suits your organization, break it down into smaller problem statements which can be take up by different people or break it down into problems that can take one at a time. Build a rocket today to take a picture of the Mars today, and build a reusable rocket tomorrow. The more you slice and dice the problem, the more manageable, doable and simpler it will seem. Growing traffic for a website might seem like a hard challenge, but once you break your current traffic sources down, under each of them, you can get a sense of which source you can leverage and grow the fastest or in the easiest fashion.

Internal, External, Controllable and Uncontrollable factors.

An advantage of breaking any problem is the fact you can break it down into things you can control and those that you can’t. Ideally, you should attach the internal controllable problems first, then move the external controllable problems next, and then try to attack the rest so that they become more controllable or you internalize the problem in some fashion.
Taking a website traffic example, the type of content you write is always in your control, but how the content will do organically on Facebook is not under your control, it is an external, uncontrollable aspect of your traffic. Spending ad dollars on Facebook is controllable but is still an external factor.


Have you ever broken problems down? Do comment below and let me know.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Why Startups are hard

It’s been a year since I started up. Have not found success but learned a lot.

  • No amount of initial meetings, theories, assumptions or even prospects etc. will predict success. You might know your first 10 customers, it is getting the next set that is hard
  • Competition can be tough, especially if they have a better brand. If you have no competition, it is harder, you have to educate the market.
  • The time when you are selling, and users have a problem may not align. Until the users have a problem, they don’t want your solution. A lot more on this in a future blog.
  • Product market fit is ever evolving, thus there never actually is a fit.
  • The world moves forward at breakneck speed
    • if you don’t, competition will beat you
    • If your customers don’t, you are stuck with a reducing set of bad customers
    • If your prospects don’t, you are set to fail, they are being blind to the change and will regret it
  • Since the world is moving forward, the past does not matter.
    • Your old feature is no longer the best, someone made it a hygiene factor and built more things. With that in mind, don’t build features for the sake of building feature. The next feature rarely a “silver bullet”
    • Your old growth channel won’t work forever
    • Your old revenue engines are today’s brakes. They might hold you back from great things (e.g Windows, QWERTY Blackberry)
  • Ego takes the oxygen out of the room. Each small win for a startup breeds someone’s ego

The best part of a doing a startup is the pace of learning. I have spent the last 3 weeks learning Swift while building the iOS app for Odiocast. Abhishek, on the other hand, is on the road to be a Full Stack Gandalf
Photo by Jimmy Chang on Unsplash

Why people Fail

Last month something struck me, something I have been seeing folks do for the last 5 years. It resulted in this tweet:

Arrogance or Blindness by Ego
The very first is where entrepreneurs get so blinded by their ideas, that they don’t see the lack of traction or the lack of the need in the first place. Google never started with the mission to organize the world’s information, InMobi never planned to become the world’s largest independent Mobile Ad Network, they happen to see the right signs and kept moving forward. Never fail to see the signs of failure. People get so focused on the prospect of success that they don’t see these signs. They start dreaming of glory, the chance to “make a dent in the universe”, the chance to make it big in life and keep pushing their peers and company down an abyss of no return.
Ignorance or Blindness by Lack of interest
Then there are those who don’t see the growth and opportunity they have and instead err on the side of caution. Many independent App developers fall into this category. They build apps, get hundreds of thousands of downloads, yet consider their effort only a weekend project or a side project. They fail to see the opportunity that lies ahead.
Narrow Vision or Blindness by lack of insights
This one is hard to describe, many folks fail because they are looking at the problem from the wrong perspective, worse still, they don’t even understand the problem. This should be visible to anyone who ever has tried to look at any sort of Funnel Metrics. In a Funnel, if a phase is having a problem, it will most probably not be in the hands of the folks who manage that phase. If your sales team is not converting enough clients as before, it may be because they have gotten junk leads from the marketing team. In most cases, one team would be celebrating that they pushed their numbers up, but others will have more work. In most cases, folks will be looking to solve where the problem is noticed rather than looking upstream.
What are some of the cases of lack of learnings from failure you have seen?