So let’s start with the problem. And to get to the problem, you start from the insight. There are two types of insights:
- A market insight: something missing in the World that a new product can solve using existing technology.
- A technology insight: an engineering-led innovation that leverages a new technology (e.g. Machine Learning).
1. What was the original secret that led you to create the company?
2. What is the existing problem with a bad solution that people don’t think is yet possible to solve OR the unknown problem that people don’t yet know they have?
3. Articulate who has this problem and why it is a problem.
4. What are the key components of the problem and the possible ramifications of not solving it?
5. What is your solution and why is it unique and different?
So we have followed the Play Bigger mantra “whoever best frames the problem has the best chance of winning the category”. We are getting close. Now we need to connect the problem to the solution. What is the NEW PROBLEM you are solving DIFFERENTLY? This is where the amazing FroTo framework comes in.
6. From: New Problem > To: Different Solution
STEP 2. CATEGORY POTENTIAL
The next step is to assess whether our problem <> solution combination (the category) has high potential.
7. How expensive, frequent and hard to solve is the problem?
8. Is there a Category King already owning this problem?
9. What are the business benefits for the customers and society of solving the problem in this way?
10. Categories create a hierarchy of value. Is your solution to the problem: a. Must have, or b. Nice to have?
11. What are the alternatives that solve the same problem today? Are they large businesses?
12. Does your solution unlock new capabilities that enhance and dramatically expand the size of the market category? If yes, how?
STEP 3 — CATEGORY EXPRESSION
You have identified a new category with strong potential. Now in the second part of the workshop, it is time to give it a name, build a strong company narrative around it and map out the ecosystem around it.
In our experience, when founders want to express what their products do, that is the moment they realise they have a category issue. The most common pitfalls we see are these, in reverse order of severity:
- The Frankenstein: we are a piece of X, and a piece of Y and a piece of Z (e.g. a bank, a SaaS, a payment solution)
- The lazy Homer: let others define what existing category you belong to. Those being the journalists, Angel List, the VCs.
- The Ghost: “something new but I can’t define it 🤷♀️”.
or the most hurtful of them all:
- The shoot yourself in the foot: position your amazing new product in the incumbent category.
Does that sound familiar? In all these cases, you are not actively driving the design of your category.
A. CATEGORY NAMING
You now need to name the category. Defining the name of the category is a big step to helping the world understand the container for the problem. Here are some practical tips.