May 20, 2019

How to choose a problem space / target customer to work on ?

Dheeban SG @sgdheeban

I am trying to get back to square-1 to build a new product. But, I would like to "work backwards from the customer" this time. What are the options to choose a problem space / target customer apart from "what we are interested / experienced in".

Ex. Last time, I chose myself as a Target Customer, but learned this may not be always an optimal approach.


  1. 2

    Curious why you feel that choosing yourself as a customer and solving a problem that's personally affecting you wouldn't be considered ideal?

    Personally speaking, I struggle to find projects that scratch a personal itch in my life. I'm aware of how "easy mode" that makes my life seem... there's just so many great products out there already that I usually can solve my problems w/o throwing code at the problem.

    Even if you think you know who the target customer is up front, the market may very well reveal that you were completely wrong about the persona and another customer may end up in their place.

    1. 1

      My main realization recently is that -- I should start from the "Customer" instead of just starting from "me" -- for the simple reason, there are many different types of people with unique habits and preferences, and by choosing myself simplistically, I am locking myself out of various other scenarios unknown to me... so, this is more like a conscious approach to choosing a customer with reduced cognitive bias !

      1. 2

        I mean, i get that, but at the same time, are you going to chase a customer that you have zero authority in their realm? That's why I feel like that starting with solving your own problems in your own niche is still a great way to build a business. You're able to fully understand the problem instead of falling into the category of making up a problem that you think users have.

        1. 1

          Thanks. This is actually great advice. I agree with you that it's difficult to do customer survey and get clear insights out of it. But, apart from it, just as a general question -- are there tools out there to do customer survey or more importantly, where do we find these "Customers" ?

          1. 2

            Not terribly familiar with the tools out there to survey customers. I personally use Google Forms and email to try to drum up feedback. There's stuff out there like AskNicely for internal feedback on your apps (NPS scores and stuff) but I find that stuff to be terribly expensive for a startup.

            Finding customers, look at your existing network. Hell, just go on LinkedIn and be like "hey, I want to solve the biggest problem with your business, but first I need to know the problem. Comment below" or "Hey, if I could build one thing to make your life better, what would it be?"

            Sure you're get some noise, but your existing network of people tends to be a great starting point to finding customers as well as problems to solve, if you're not going to tackle your own problem.

            A bit more meta..... finding customers is hard, how can you build a business around solving it?

            1. 2

              This is awesome insight ! Thanks for the detailed post !