No Idea: Problem Based Approach

Credit: Ryan Riggins Unsplash

These past few weeks have been a bit slower for us in terms of product development. We moved into a new office and that took a lot of my time, but we were able to finish the biggest tasks and I now have a lot more time for the product. I have met a lot of people, some in the traveling industry, some others that just wanted to discuss and help me out on my journey. To all of those, I say a big thank you as I now have a much clearer vision of my next steps. I’ll discuss my upcoming goals a bit later in the post. For this week’s post, I’ll take a different approach and will actually answer some of the questions that were asked to me after my last post. Indeed, a lot of people have came and asked me about what exactly I am trying to achieve with all of this. Some of the questions were super interesting, especially two, so I feel it’s worth writing about them.

You want to build a product but you don’t have an idea?

That’s one of the questions that I hear often. Writing it down makes me feel like I am kind of lost.

How do you want to build something if you don’t even know what you want?

Well, thinking about it, I feel like it might even be a better approach than the “usual” way of building a product. By usual, I mean having an idea, validating it and then building it. Sure, having an idea for a product helps a lot in the process of building it. On the flip side, having that idea might actually bias your choices just because you truly believe in your idea and you get attached to it. I don’t have that problem. Even better, I will take the proper steps to find out problems that people experience when travelling and I will make sure that it is a problem that people are actually willing to pay for. Following that logic, I have the advantage of being truly problem focussed and I am not attached to any of the ideas we actually thought of. Specially at this point, because for all I know, the different ideas we discussed about are not a problem worth paying for, but they still allow me to ask questions and to learn more about the actual problems that people are willing to pay for.

Why travel tech?

A lot of people have asked me about the reasoning behind our choice of industry, specifically the traveling industry. It’s an extremely good question, especially because we have no experience in the field. The answer is actually quite simple: because we love to travel and we also feel that there are a lot of problems that technology could fix in that industry. Sure, that makes sense, everyone says that it’s best to work on a problem that you have as a user, but also, it should be something that keeps you up at night. I think that this will drive us in the future. The other cofounders are as passionate as I am about traveling, we spent a year abroad in Sweden, and travelled South East Asia and Europe together. It feels like a perfect fit for us. But the truth is that it actually took us quite a while to choose a market. We have been exploring the idea of creating a product since we started Samsao four years ago. Recently, we had strong interests in fintech, insurtech and healthtech, but those didn’t feel quite right for some reason or those didn’t feel quite right for us.

I feel like it became much clearer when we took our last trip to Thailand together. We were discussing all the different problems we experienced and we just felt like there were so many of them that could easily be fixed with technology. While discussing it, it just felt right to us to explore the market. Fast track to today, the market has not changed all that much and it still affects me. I am just eager to see which problem we will be tackling, I’m confident it’ll be one that will drive me.

I have a lot of exciting stuff coming up in the next weeks. First of all, there is the Montreal Startup Fest coming this week and thanks to E-180 Braindates, I have setup tons of meeting with different people in the travel industry. I’m really looking forward to it as I’m sure I’ll gather a lot of interesting insights.

On another note, I had a lot of discussions with the other cofounders and everything seems to fall into place. As I mentioned earlier, we moved in this week and it’s one of the last big projects I had at Samsao. That means I’ll be able to dedicate more time to the product. I now also have a weekly checkup with the team to track my progress and get other opinions on the steps I’m taking. Some of the other cofounders are also quite excited about the product and will be working after-hours to help figure out the specific problem we want to work on. All in all, that’s super exciting to me as I’ll get way more time and extra hands to help me out in this difficult phase.

Since we haven’t figured out exactly which problem we would like to tackle, we are still doing a lot of exploration. The one thing I want to focus on right now is customer development. The idea is to create a survey and go out there and ask people questions about their traveling habits and the problems they run into. So to put that clearly, my next steps will be:

  • Continue working on the market research to better understand the travelling landscape and try to find patterns
  • Build a survey for potential future customers to gather information on the problems. The idea will be to find similarities in the answers and then iterate on that

Those are two pretty ambitious goals, hopefully I’ll be much further in two weeks, especially if I get extra hands to help me out.

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