What do investors need from your problem slide?
Throw half a dozen entrepreneurs in a room together with a whiteboard, and they’ll be able to come up with a thousand business ideas in a couple of hours. It’s the nature of entrepreneurship: Our brains are wired to keep an eye on what could be better and how that gap in the market can be turned into an opportunity. In other words: Ideas are cheap, and nothing is so awesome that it couldn’t possibly be improved. However, not all problems are worth solving.
There are two common problems with the problem slide. Some founders are tempted to go way into the weeds on this slide, explaining the competitive landscape, market size, customer segments, value propositions and more. I understand the temptation — the problem formulation does touch a large number of aspects of the business — but this is neither the time nor the place.
The other common issue I see in pitch decks is the absence of a problem slide. This happens particularly often with founders who believe that their solution and product slides are so good that the problem itself is obvious, and a slide talking about it is redundant. That is a mistake. Even if the problem is universally understood, it’s helpful to see how a founder frames the problem. There are some elegant ways of doing that. Let’s talk about them.
What is the problem?
Being able to clearly outline what the problem is is a crucial first step toward explaining why people might want a solution. Explaining succinctly and clearly what the problem is can be surprisingly hard for some companies, while others have a much easier path toward a problem statement.
A few examples:
Now, we can argue about what the market size, customer segment, and sensibility of each of these problems are, but all of the above are real problems that companies are working to solve.