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Not solving a “tier 1 problem” is a recipe for (startup) disaster: Or maybe not?

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”

– Biz Stone

Tier 1 Or Nothing

2 weeks or so ago while scrolling down my Facebook’s newsfeed I stumbled upon this eye-catching (business) quote:

If your startup failed, it’s because it didn’t solve a tier 1 problem for a large enough audience.”

Which was a post intro from a guy named Mitchell Harper, a big shot ‘exited entrepreneur’.

His point in a nutshell?

Unless you solve one of the top 3 problems your target customer is experiencing you’re scre*ed!

Yep, irrespective how good your product is if you don’t abide by that ‘market reality’ you will fight an uphill battle.

And that made me thinking…

Is that claim any true?

Or maybe another classic business BS as usual?

Since it’s not an easy one we have to do a bit of digging.

Painkillers, Vitamins, Oxygen Or Vaccines: Which One Is Your Product?

First things first.

Why does Harper think that way?

In his own words…

…“[it’s because], they’ll be so focused on solving their first 3 problems that you’ll never get a look in… They simply won’t have time (or budget) for you if you’re not solving a problem that’s top of mind for them — a tier 1 problem”.

And that brings us to the old-age business dilemma:

Vitamins vs painkillers!

In fact, over the last couple of years, some additional elements got blended into the mix (and yes, I am of course referring to oxygen and vaccines).

Just in case I lost you, let me explain these analogy-driven terms really quick:

1. “Painkiller products”:

Two words…

“MUST HAVES”

Yep, these type of products fall under the essentials category.

And another common characteristic of them is that they provide an almost immediate relief.

Some classic examples?

Gasoline, electricity, internet, telephone, just to name a few.

2. “Vitamin products”:

The main alternative to painkiller-products?

You guessed it…

Vitamins (aka “as nice to haves”).

Said differently,

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