Problems, not markets

Does Facebook help you connect with your friends, or is it a social network?

Does Uber offer you convenient access to transportation, or is it an on-demand marketplace?

Does Lending Club let you borrow money at rates cheaper than those offered by banks, or is it a fintech company?

In each case, the answer is both. The first part of each sentence describes the problem the company is solving, and the second part describes the market the company is in.

However, while both parts are true, the reason for each company’s success is the solution it offers to a problem, not the market it’s in. Successful startups solve problems.

The corollary to this is that successful entrepreneurs describe what their startup does in terms of the problem it solves, not the market it’s in. A particular market may be trendy one day and out of fashion another. Problems, and their solutions, persist.

Also published on Medium.