RedBus, Twitter And The Difficulty Of Identifying Painkillers In Developed Markets

December 3, 2012 8:41 am

One of our favorite statements on identifying problems to solve comes from Don Dodge – “There are a list of questions I ask entrepreneurs when evaluating start-ups. One of them is “Is your product a Vitamin (nice to have) or a painkiller (got to have it)? Of course everyone wants to think their product is a “must have” painkiller, but very few are.”.

Now, Keep that in mind, and look at the list of ‘The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies’ from FastCompany. You will find that the companies on the list that have addressed developed markets primarily (US, Europe) have really struggled to find painkillers. In fact many of them can even be classified as vitamins. On the contrary, look at the ones from the developing markets. They are just painkillers, simple.

Here is one example: Twitter – more or less a vitamin, definitely so when it started. Redbus.in – the online bus ticketing service from India – painkiller, period.

The summary of what we are saying is something obvious: low hanging fruits still exist in developing markets. In developed markets, you need to climb mountains for the fruits.

And here is the interesting thing: you could basically have a 3 column matrix, with where you are located, your target market, and whether it is a vitamin or a painkiller.

You will end up with something like this:

Twitter – Location: Developed, Target: Global, Type: Vitamin turning into Painkiller
RedBus – Location: Developing, Target: Developing, Type: Painkiller
CucumberTown – Location: Developing, Target: Global, Type: Vitamin
Foursquare – Location: Developed, Target: Developed, Type: Vitamin

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