Finding and Solving Problems

As a startup founder, investor, accelerator manager, or mentor you want to do everything you can to mitigate these failure rates and the one way to achieve that is by obsessively focusing on the problem in the early stages, instead of the technology.

I've heard a lot of advice that echoes this quote. Users of your product don't care about what programming languages and tools it is built with; they just want it to work. The code you write is ultimately a means to an end, and it's important to focus on that end goal instead of the code itself.

That being said, thoughtful design is important, and careless architecture can lead to failure as well. If you have spent months designing a system that runs at sluggish speeds and has endless bugs, customers will likely not be satisfied with your product. Conversely, if you spend a decade architecting a perfect system... it's likely that you will either be beat to market by someone quicker, or you will run out of resources. From what I have seen, startups tend to lean towards the former option ("move fast and break things"), which is a sustainable model if you take care to clean up the technical debt you've accumulated.

The article echoes this sentiment later:

spending too much time stressing about what you’ll do when your customer base is huge is a good way to make sure you never have that problem.

A good friend of mine told me a lot of pain points should not be automated at first sight when starting a business. It's important to go through procedural pain points so that you can then evaluate the pros (less pain) and cons (setting up automation takes time) of removing those pain points. In the long run, ideally all of the kinks in the system are worked out, but it's simply not possible to focus on every small thing in the short term. Automating everything to begin with leaves you with tens of thousands of dollars in server costs and likely hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on salary, with the possibility of no users. Doesn't sound like a good position to be in.

The Problem Statement Canvas for Startups and Innovation Teams by Marius Ursache.