Finding A Problem to Solve

Alexis Ohanian

Lesson time 06:49 min

Fundamentally, a good founder solves everyday problems. The challenge isn’t coming up with a million-dollar idea. It’s executing it. Alexis recommends carrying a notebook (a hard copy or digital app) to capture your ideas at a moment’s notice.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Ignore The Competition • Make Sure You Have Product Market Fit • Learn From Your Community


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I'm definitely guilty of carrying around-- back in the day it was a notepad, now it's just a notes section of my smartphone-- full of things that piss me off, because chances are, if you're upset by something, there is a good business opportunity there. Right? If it's a product experience that frustrates you, if it's something that just isn't just working as well as it should, there's probably a chance to build something better. And it doesn't always mean it's a great business, but it definitely gets you to start thinking about areas where you can improve and get you in a mindset where you're looking for things to solve. It's pretty common that your customers or potential customers don't even know the right solution for their problem. Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, they all have great quotes about people wanting, was it, faster horses and not an automobile. And it's true. There's nothing quite like a founder that has thought deeply about a problem, talked to and can really empathize with potential customers, and is able to really engineer something that is noticeably better. And every now and then I still meet founders who say, look, I just can't-- I'm not an ideal person. It's not that I don't believe you. It's just that I don't think you're trying hard enough and I don't think you've really spent the time understanding what people need, because there is no shortage of things that need to be improved. It's about realizing what you're going to work on, what you're going to commit a decade of your life to, and then how to actually get started. [MUSIC PLAYING] Most good ideas have lots of competitors. Or at least they have other versions that are less good already out in the market. You should be aware of it, you should listen to your customers, you should listen to their customers, but pay no attention to what they're doing. If you've spent the time in the market, if you spent the time talking to customers, if you've done the diligence-- yeah, even a cursory Google search or Twitter search-- you'll know other competitors. But it is rare that I get turned off in a pitch just because competitors exist. And so pay attention to your competitor's customers. Don't pay attention to your competitors. And remain focused on building the best products you can for the users you have today and then the ones you want to get tomorrow. [MUSIC PLAYING] So product market fit is one of these cliches you'll hear a lot in tech. It's an important one, though. What it means is that you have a good fit between the product you've built and the market that wants it. That is, people like what you're building. Clear signs of product market fit are high retention numbers. So that after 30 days, you know, 15%, 20%, 30% 40% of people are still using your app. The higher the better. In some cases, I've had startups where, 30 days after creating an account, 95% of those users are still there using the app, which is...

About the Instructor

In 2005, UVA undergrad Alexis Ohanian envisioned a place online where users connect over subcultures—enter Reddit. That was only the start: From growing billion-dollar companies to championing female founders, Ohanian shaped culture. Now he wants to lead tomorrow’s innovators. Learn how to turn an idea into a startup with advice Alexis has shared with other entrepreneurs through his VC fund, Seven Seven Six.

Featured MasterClass Instructor

Alexis Ohanian

Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian teaches you how to turn an idea into a startup. Get the advice he’s shared through his VC fund, Seven Seven Six.

Explore the Class
Sign Up