Want to improve your startup? Sign up for the Startup Design Newsletter!
In January 16th, the climbing world had its eyes turned to Yosemite. Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgensen, two incredible climbers, were on El Cap trying something that had never been done.
Using only their fingers and toes, they were climbing a 3,000 ft blank face on El Capitan known as The Dawn Wall.
For seven years they went up every fall to try this route. And after seven years, they were going to do it. Tommy Caldwell was past all the hard sections of the route, waiting for Kevin to finish pitch 15. This section was comprised of razor blade like holds positioned in a way that forced the climbers to reach past their full extension.
Try after try, Kevin failed, falling into the dark, empty air below him.
He was stuck at the crux.
The crux of a climb is the hardest section. Regardless of height or difficulty, every climb has a crux. Sometimes the crux is one short movement of the hands. Other times, like on the Dawn Wall, it can last for 100s of feet, requiring climbers to memorize intricuite sequences of moves to get past.
Much like in climbing, businesses always have a crux. But unlike climbing, these cruxes are not always easy to identify, especially when you start.
For many founders, they believe the crux is getting your first product launched. They spend all of their days working to launch a product. This is a good thing. You have to have a product to be successful in the long run.
There are certainly ideas where the crux is building the product. Think about our best business idea: Magic Pill (trademark pending). This pill, when taken with food, cures all diseases. Simple as that.
We have absolutely no doubt that we could sell this pill. Probably for $1m each. The crux of this idea is not selling. It is building. We don't know the first thing about creating an all-curing medication. Ideas like that are often called Moonshots. Something so large and obviously profitable that it is worth going after even though it might be impossible.
A lot of founders truly believe they are doing just that: building something that is impossible. Something that will change the world. Their mindset is completely understandable. And we get why; it is fun to design and build stuff. We love it more than almost everything else on earth. But that mindset can be detrimental to any idea.
Lets take the top three ideas today on Product Hunt:
Now, we can tell you three or four ways to build each one of those ideas. None of them require more than six months to build, especially with a clear design.
The crux is not building these ideas. The crux is whether they will provide value to future customers.
Now, many people will say that in order to truly test whether an idea is going to provide value, you need to have the full vision. If it has all the features your team wants, then they will love it. We disagree.
When the iPhone 1 launched, it didn't have apps. Apple's vision was to have an app store, because just 3 months later it launched. But people loved the iPhone 1! Hundreds of tech dreamers waited in line for days to get this $700 phone, an unheard-of price back then.
People loved the iPhone because, even though it wasn't perfect, it solved a problem in an amazing way.
Kevin ended up making it past the crux of the Dawn Wall, joining Tommy to become the first team to ever make a free ascent. With the right focus and hard work, we believe you can get past your crux. Hope to hear your story in the record books.
Want more ideas like this one?
Twice a month, I send an email teaching startup founders and employees to use design to improve their companies. It is a ton of fun!