Opinion: 3 (honest) questions tech startups must ask themselves

by Dikachim Okonkwo

questions

So you want to sell bus tickets online? Were people looking for/will people look for bus tickets online? You want to sell caviar to rich men. Do you think a rich illiterate trader will buy it? Your product saves people time…the  question is, the people you’re selling to, do they have time to spare or not?

I just want to put down my thoughts on a question I hear often within Nigerian tech circles whenever any startup is mentioned. Whenever I hear that question, three more questions come to me. Are they adding value? Where is the innovation? Are they building what they think users want or are they building what the users actually want?

I’ll explain.

1. Are they adding value?

As straight forward as this seems, it’s not. So you want to sell bus tickets online? Were people looking for/will people look for bus tickets online? You want to sell caviar to rich men. Do you think a rich illiterate trader will buy it? Your product saves people time…the  question is, the people you’re selling to, do they have time to spare or not? A company selling some form of entertainment is probably adding more value to the lives of a group of people who have time to spare, as against one that sells a product that saves them time.

2. Where is the innovation?

Every other day, there’s a conversation within the Nigerian Tech ecosystem about how our payment system is messed up or how our logistics & delivery system is broken etc. Does this not show that these sectors(amongst many others) need innovation? Is it because these seem like humongous problems that we’re avoiding them?Are we afraid to dream and build big?

I don’t know about others but I used to be until I met a few people within the ecosystem who taught me better. We need to lose that fear of solving big problems if we do have it. Whatever you dream and put your mind to it, you can achieve it, so we might as well start dreaming big.

Also, do the organisers of these recent hackathons not think that maybe our ecosystem is too young to leave the hacks to come from just any sector? Guide our devs on particular sectors where their disruption is needed perhaps?

3. Are they building what they think users want or are they building what the users actually want?

Startups building what their users want, the way their users want it and advertising right where their users are will make money. It’s not rocket science.

I heard about PageNanny a few weeks ago and I was really impressed with what they do. I didn’t know them but their users do, and are happy to pay them for what they do. As a result, they have revenue.

Another instance is Hotels. the founder, Mark Essien who is a visionary I hold in very high regard, makes his bookings team book through the very same site that everybody else uses – that way, he knows what his users want and the way they want it. Genius.

In the end, tech startups, internet startups, (unless for profit) are businesses. A business is set up to make money basically and to achieve this, it must always think along the lines of actually adding value, innovating where innovation is needed and building what users want, the way they want it. There are many other factors as well but for me, these are the basics.

One would be led to ask what I’m doing to this effect. Well, I’ll be putting my money where my mouth is soon.

N.B: I’d also advocate staying as lean as possible while doing all these.

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Read this article in www.Techcabal.com

 

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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