Our goal as providers of mentored capital is to find game changing ideas or innovations that can redefine healthcare. We think these game changers can come from anyone, anywhere, and we want to help as many people as possible develop a mindset that enables them to think expansively. There are lots of opportunities out there that we can address via innovation, but sometimes they are hard to see. At Zoic Capital we aim to help our community of potential entrepreneurs understand how to identify the most compelling opportunities, and then how to take the next step of creating great solutions.
Innovation and progress happen when someone identifies a problem and then finds a way to address it. Sometimes the reverse happens – a solution emerges in search of a problem – but that is a risky and more difficult approach. Consider the Segway, a transportation solution addressing a questionable need. Trust us, it’s much easier to start with a problem.
Identifying problems is not always easy. We become accustomed to the way that our world works, and we stop being conscious of the ways we adjust out actions to manage inefficiencies. We don’t see problems as problems.
Needs tend to be fairly universal. Maslow even organizes basic human needs in order of importance to communicate what people require to self-actualize at different levels.
Needs are constant over time. Take, for example, the post-industrial need to extend the shelf life of food as people moved further from their food’s source. Cooling food is an approach to extending shelf life, and we saw three distinct waves of companies delivering a cooling service. First ice cutters, next ice factories, and finally refrigeration. Note that each industry was addressing the same, constant need, but in different ways.
Once we know the need, our next step is to identify the problems. In the food-chilling example, innovative individuals looked at ice cutters and set about solving the problem of limited supply. They landed on the innovation of factory-produced ice. Note that it was difficult for the ice cutters to identify that problem, since they were working within the context day-in-day out. The consequences for ice cutters were
disastrous: ice cutters basically went out of business overnight. This pattern repeated itself when the next wave of innovators looked at ice factories and saw the problems posed by requiring an expensive and cumbersome just-in-time delivery infrastructure. They asked how might we create cold directly where we need it, and thus invented modern refrigeration. Again, not a single ice factory became a refrigeration company. They were too busy making ice to see the problems.
What Makes a Good Problem?
The simple answer is that good problems are those that address real, broad needs people have. It’s problems that aren’t obvious at first, but then become completely obvious once you see them. It’s problems shared by a lot of different people. Most importantly, it’s problems that are motivating enough to make you want to dive in and solve them.
We recommend that teams develop their problem statements early in order to build a culture of working towards the goal of helping people.
Our healthcare system doesn’t function smoothly and is full of ripe problems ready for solutions. At Zoic Capital we are passionate about finding and enabling ventures that have identified and articulated real problems.
Categorized in: Work
This post was written by Elevate, Inc.