How to fall in love and prioritize your problems
Credit to Martin Stellar (opens in a new tab)
Instead of focusing on features to be developed, focus on problems to be solved. Melissa Perri of The Build Trap
Melissa describes the problem roadmap (opens in a new tab) as a product-led organization's alternative to its product roadmap. Problem roadmaps help quantify and qualify customer problems and ensure the product is grounded in delivering real value to customers, avoiding the notorious Solution In Search of a Problem (SISP), a cool piece of tech without a purchasing customer.
Conversely (sorry Melissa), I've experienced times the problem roadmap doesn't really work, we'll get to that at the end of this article.
At Palate.so, we're focused on learning the wine industry's commercial problems to drive our roadmap and ensure we're building a valuable product.
In this blog post, we'll introduce you to our current process and progress so far.
What we're building and why
I'm a wine collector and a crypto enthusiast. I spend a lot of my time outside work actively participating in both worlds and I realised there's a bunch of problems in the wine world that can be solved by innovations in Crypto. Here's how I've been going about it:
Problems are problems only when there is a “felt need” that motivates people to search for a solution in order to eliminate discrepancies. David Jonassen (opens in a new tab), Learning to solve complex scientific problems
- Be the customer: I started cellaring my wine using different services here in Sydney. I've bought directly from wineries, friends, retail shops, distributors, internationally, trading houses, private cellars and auctions. I've catalogued my frustrations, improvements and starting to update my problem-roadmap
- Getting out there and talking to people: winemakers, wine traders, wine websites, distributors, sommeliers, wine shops, wine podcasters. Here's where I reach out, explore their problems, their sentiment to the market and understand how we can deliver value. This is an ongoing process.
- Building a profile & audience: I feel this is the least important, however, somehow necessary. By building a wine profile (opens in a new tab) on Instagram and documenting my actions on Medium, I'm hoping to network & receive your list of problems with wine and wine trading… inbound problems, DM's are open!
I've drawn inspiration from Melissa Perri (opens in a new tab) and Soroush Pour's (opens in a new tab) fantastic airtable (opens in a new tab), and compiled this publicly on Palate's website https://palate.so/ (opens in a new tab).
Listed problems are explained & evaluated by
- Intensity: from 1-5, how intense does the customer have this problem? 5 being desperately needing solving
- Frequency: from 1-5, how often do they come across the problem. 1 being rarely, 5 being multiple times a day
- Impact Size: from 1-5, does this affect their whole business (5) or just a few people in the business (1)
- Total: the higher aggregated score, the more likely it's a high-value problem and one that I'll fall in love with.
I believe in some scenarios, finding customers problems won't work. The solution may be something the customer hasn't even imagined yet. I experienced this building my first real startup, Chewsr. 7 years ago, before Uber Eats and Deliveroo we're operating in Aus, takeaway shops had a bunch of different printers & systems for Menulog, Just Eat and other companies. I was selling a visual ordering menu system to restaurants, cafes and takeaway shops they could operate themselves and use for dining in.
A select few early adopters saw the value and those that used our technology saw the benefits and convenience, albeit, they were hesitant to ask customers to scan QR codes for a menu. Oh, how that's changed. Mr Yum (opens in a new tab) is a fantastic product in the space taking the opportunity by storm!
Personally, I like the way the problem roadmap frame what entrepreneurs and product-led organizations should be focusing on… Problems!
Understanding what to do with the problems comes next, and I'll discuss framing problems and outcome-based roadmaps soon.
Palate.so (opens in a new tab)'s building in public, sign-up at our public notion page (opens in a new tab) to receive updates on our progress feel free to contact me if you'd like to share any problems you're aware of, or if you'd like to share your thoughts or guidance.