A few days ago, I was lucky to be a part of a panel of Southeast Asian & Silicon Valley product folks. It was meant to be a virtual dinner party with product professionals discussing product trends in SEA & SV. (Of course, I literally had my dinner plate with me as we were conversing.) It was enriching for me to learn more about product building Southeast Asia given I’ll be setting my sights there one day.
One of the questions asked was: “Is this the right time to be building or starting a new venture?” A typical answer amidst this environment is a resounding NO. Shortage of VCs, an unstable market, a tendency for customers to save vs. consume, a possibly temporary perception of product-market fit — all these factors plus more make it difficult to imagine a more positive answer to the question.
However, the contrarian answer — and the one I personally admire & subscribe to — is that this is THE time to build! There were a couple entrepreneurs in the group that voiced their sentiment and I loved the spirit!
The riskiest reason for starting something at this time is the question of temporary product-market fit. Finding product-market fit right now is different than finding product-market fit when we’re “back to normal” (assuming we’ll ever get back to our previous notion of normal). But finding sustainable product-market fit doesn’t necessarily have to be tied with the times we live in.
In fact, certain innovative ideas propping up now may not exist had we not been forced to see the world through quarantine-colored lenses.
I gave two examples to illustrate this:
The situations we’re forced into sometimes help us find opportunities we wouldn’t have otherwise sought out.
These were only two out of a plethora of examples of innovations improving & starting up at this time. A couple others I can think of:
On the flipside, a couple of problems I still think no one is elegantly solving that can be extremely impactful now, and beyond:
Online education!! Many different players, but not one that stands out as something adequate enough to mimic a classroom (many colleges still use Zoom)
Livestreamed exercise classes where you can really feed off other people’s energy (Zoom’s doesn’t cut it)
Virtual dance classes – I practice with my dance group every Thursday & it’s so hard to tell what’s left from right?!
Virtual Church — seriously. My Catholic family and the millions out there pray for a better solution to this