Here’s the real reason your startup isn’t taking off

by | Apr 2024 | Build a Product

Stop. Your product does NOT need another feature.

Here’s the real reason your startup isn’t taking off…

Since I began investing in startups in 2012, I’ve seen hundreds (thousands?) of founders with no traction.

Often they would explain that nobody was using their product because it lacked a certain feature.

“If only I could add XYZ, people would use it.”

This is almost never true.


The reason most startups have no traction is they haven’t asked and/or they haven’t listened.

Launching a product successfully means finding a big, common problem that thousands of people will pay to fix.

It’s really that simple.


If nobody is using your product, you’ve probably missed one of the following steps (N.B. it’s probably not too late to go back and do it now!):

  1. Spend time understanding the exact problem you’re solving.
  2. Verbalise why this problem is so important, and to whom.
  3. Create a list of 50-100 people with whom you can discuss the problem.
  4. Use this feedback to narrow down your audience further.
  5. Find a subset of people who experience the problem most acutely.
  6. Ask how they currently solve the problem.
  7. Understand why these solutions are unsatisfactory.
  8. Come up with an alternative that reduces friction significantly.
  9. Understand and overcome the inertia involved in switching.
  10. Determine how much your new solution is worth.
  11. Move from theory to practice by taking payments.
  12. Prove you can repeat the above in volume, at arm’s length.

Adding another feature will just give you another thing that nobody uses. It’s your ability to open up a dialogue around the problem that’s lacking.

Start with that. 

Hopefully you won’t discover the problem isn’t real.

Good luck.

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