Ideas and Validation May 25, 2020

On finding a problem worth solving and keeping up motivation

Fran Rimoldi @fran90

My story

I'm a Software engineer and, probably just like you, a long time Indie Hackers lurker.

To say that I've never had an idea for a product to work on wouldn't be accurate. I've probably had tons along the years.But, for one reason on another, I've never took a single project from idea to business.

I guess this is normal for most people. You just loose motivation and ultimately realize that the problem you were willing to solve isn't worth solving,. Or it wasn't a problem at all. Or maybe it was and you just gave up. You never know.

The idea

A few weeks ago. Once again. I was hit by a problem I thought it could be worth solving.

It wasn't my own problem, like the ideal story would tell. But I was starting to notice that more and more people who were used to run in-person classes and workshops were forced to move their businesses online because of the current situation in most countries.

Specifically, I focused on workshops. Not like Udemy courses, but actual workshops where the host is the one teaching you any kind of thing live over Zoom. There're tons. Yoga, creativity, painting, music instruments, etc, etc

Initial approach

After thinking that maybe this was something worth pursuing I did what I always do. I made some mockups on Sketch for an MVP. I realized I was going too deep on details so descoped. I switch to code even before I was done with mockups. I came back to mockups and decided to build just a clickable prototype. Thought "fuck it, I'll just take a week to build the actual thing" and came back to code. Wasted time reading about the hottest Javascript trends this week. You know, the usual stuff. And, as usual, it wasn't working.

I consider myself a person that, as many others, work at his best under motivation. So, for this time, I was determined not to loose it until I really know if there was demand for this problem to be solved.

Breaking my bubble

Since the idea itself was not motivating me as much to go and build an MVP, I decided to do something I never did. Talk to a potential customer even before having a product to show.

From the very beginning, I had this person in mind. I started to imagine how the product would look like and I always envisioned how she would find it useful.

I met this person in a co-working space several years ago. She's a creative content creator and before the whole pandemic, she was running a workshop on creativity. An in-person workshop.

She moved from Buenos Aires to Berlin a few weeks before the COVID outbreak and decided to continue giving the workshop online.

I knew this so I simply wrote her an email saying that I was working on a product related to online workshops and I asked if we could have a call so I could understand what her workflow was.

She replied. And we talked. And the outcome of that call couldn't be more fantastic.

Learnings

I learned a hell lot from it. She told me that she was using Eventbrite to manage and publish the workshops and was very passionate about describing the problems she was facing and how much she would like to automate and make certain thins easier.

I came up with a precise understanding of what her pain points are. And, funny enough, they had nothing to do with what I originally thought.

Keeping up motivation

I do have now the motivation I need. I know for a fact that there's one single human that will find value if I build this. And that's all I need for now.

    1. 1

      I've heard of this one tons of times and I'm pretty sure it's fantastic. I guess what I wanted to talk about is how it feels to actually do it. To put in practice all the theory we read every single day.

      I'll read it and come back to this comment to thank you, haha.

  1. 1

    Good job. After you have an idea of the problem you want to solve, contact a few more trainers and see if they have the similar problems to validate the pain points.

    1. 1

      Absolutely. I guess once you get use to this dynamic, it’s easier to do it again.

      I’m now building an MVP based on the initial conversation I had with this woman. Once I’m done, I’ll try to do it all over again.

  2. 1

    I do this thing called “Sunday 8am” validation before starting a project.

    It’s simple, asking myself will I be working on a Sunday morning on this project.

    1. 1

      Yeah, that’s a good one too. But what I wanted this time was to find motivation outside of my personal ego.

      How you feel about building something may change over time, not always because of the right reasons.

      A potential customer having a need isn’t something that’s gonna magically go away. It’ll be there until someone take care of that need. That’s what’s motivating me right now and I’m finding it more powerful than my own beliefs.

  3. 1

    Beautiful

    1. 1

      Thank you!