Skip to main content

Is Your Customer’s Hair on Fire?

Do your customers know their hair’s on fire? (Original image source: Steelhouse.com)
When considering an idea for a startup, I’ve referenced a question people often use: “are you selling a painkiller or a vitamin?” The notion is people “need” a painkiller before they need a vitamin (“nice to have”).

In my recent meeting with a venture capitalist partner, he uses the idea “hair on fire” as it’s more dramatic and visual. That is, having one’s hair on fire is direr than perhaps even a painkiller. (I, for one, don’t take painkillers even when prescribed oftentimes.)

For the VC, he considers three key questions to evaluate “hair on fire”:
  1. Are there enough people with their hair on fire? Read: What is the size of the market? Is it large enough for big returns?
  2. Do prospects know their hair is on fire? Read: Does the market need to be educated about their problem? How important is the problem? I think of this, too, as “is this a latent need or an active need? If latent, how can you convert to active?”
  3. Does the market have the desire to put out the fire? Read: Is there enough benefit for customers to make a change and adopt your product/ service? Are you mitigating risk for customers?
What other key questions should there be when considering “hair on fire”? How could you evaluate if a need is latent vs. active? How could you convert to active, if latent?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Vertical SaaS? Horizontal SaaS? It’s All News to Me

Not sure why, but I have only recently heard of a term called “Vertical SaaS”. Okay, there’s also “Horizontal SaaS”, too. Based on some light research, looks like vertical SaaS is also a growing trend and the number of companies fewer than horizontal SaaS providers.
Vertical SaaS borrows its moniker from the concept of vertical integration whereby there is more control over a supply chain from raw materials to point-of-sale. Here, vertical SaaS companies focus on a niche market (industry) offering a solution that enables more process control.
Horizontal SaaS providers get really good at a particular offering, and widen their market to reach scale. Their focus is on breadth of market, and thus, its sales and marketing strategies can require more resources.
Many vertical SaaS companies (such as Veeva Systems, Guidewire, Fleetmatics) are doing well usurping legacy systems of traditionally slow-tech-adoption industries. Here, vertical companies develop a best-of-breed product, and focu…

My Life-Defining Moment Happened When I Failed to Make Varsity in High School

Ever stop to think about who you are? What makes you tick and tock? How about what you truly enjoy and what you’re good at vs. not good at? Or what/ who has shaped you into the person you are today?
I’m at this stage of figuring out whether to continue independent consulting while iterating on ideas for the next startup or take on some full-time employment (consulting, product management, or otherwise). My recent post about my daily/ weekly schedule was an interesting exercise in stepping back and recognizing what I’m actually doing in a day, and made me really think at the macro level.
In one of my recent reflections, I thought about defining moments in my life. One of those watershed events that truly transformed me was my failure to make the Varsity soccer team in high school. I won’t rehash the whole story here – shared the story almost a year ago in my post titled “Getting Through Dark Moments and the Most Vulnerable Story I've Ever Told Publicly”. It’s this moment that I w…

De-Risk for Investments

I was talking to a Producer and Director recently who is starting out his business. He’s got his business set up, and is seeking investors for a film. He’s got the script. He’s ready to go. Except, the investors want him to slow down. The investors wanted to “de-risk” the investment. New to being an entrepreneur, the Producer shared the nuances he wasn’t quite prepared for. Expected ReturnsSaaStr states that a 10% return on the total venture capital (VC) fund is good while aiming to earn its total VC fund in profits is the goal. Understand what the goals of the investor(s) are, and have the model to illustrate goals can be met with even conservative achievement.Legal Collateral – The Producer was shocked to learn how much he had to spend to validate the authenticity and originality of the script. Investors are looking at legal terms and insurance to not only cover risks of copyright infringement, but also the leveragability for greater valuation.Long-Term Strategy – Are you a one-h…