Biggest problem your startup might have

I have been having an interesting experience with Platoons where Startups come together with the goal to help and motivate each other. I was invited to join such platoons to help new batch of startups that had just entered Startup Chile.

I started platoons by asking one big question : Whats the biggest challenge for your startup?
Most startups started answering with things like: I want to hire a marketing manager and couldn’t find one in chile, the other one started with marketing challenge and user acquisition, the other one had a challenge that development resources are too expensive.

Its interesting how mostly everyone of them brought out the problem that were functional and  none of them brought out problems that could threaten their business.

One case was about the developers being expensive.

This is the kind of narrative we got:
“ We couldn’t find the developer who will work at speed. Everyone is asking for 3 to 6 months and we would like to get it done faster and someone who has worked on our industry before. Finally we got someone in US who has worked is experience and will do it in 3 months but is really expensive. Hence we will have to work with very few features than what we had expected to have initially. ”

At first the it sounded more like a status report than a problem.  But later discussions and investigations led us to understand that they have really good experience and understanding of the industry but are yet to validate their market and business model, their product requirement even for first stage was too huge and complex.

The biggest problem in my opinion was: They lack technical & product development understanding!
Ideally they should be doing is: Building a product roadmap that can start small and scale easily, such that it is in sync with their market validation plan.

So here is the conclusion: Sometimes the biggest challenge of your startup is not knowing whats your biggest challenge. If you don’t know the problem explicitly you will never be able to solve it.