The urbanist and activist Jane Jacobs once wrote that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” Jacobs’ struggles against top-down urban renewal “solutions” should be instructive for startups.
For teams built around a potentially path-breaking technology, this can be a humbling experience. “Founders probably spend 90% of their life with their product, but an end user may spend 1% of theirs – and that’s the absolute best case,” says Schwind. Understanding their desires, needs, contexts and intentions is central to transforming a promising idea into a value proposition and eventually a product.
For B2B startups, this may be as simple as drafting a hypothesis, designing even a rough sketch of the product, and having concrete conversations with customers — from which they can obtain useful feedback. More creativity is required for consumer products, especially in the absence of formal research or field ethnography due to financial constraints.