Innovation has truly pushed humanity to the edge of the world – it has taken man to the moon, it has gathered the world’s information to our fingertips and more significantly, it has sparked a mindset of rebellion and disruption never seen before in our generation.

Today, everyone is encouraged to think differently – creatively to be exact. The idea is the world’s flaws and imperfections are brought before our feet and the floor is open to everyone to think up and implement a solution to improve it.

However, recent events have raised questions as to whether people have missed the concept of ‘problem-solving’ entirely. Open up a news article and you would see the demise of a recent startup that only just earlier indulged itself as ‘a tech-innovative’ enterprise set to be the ‘next Apple.’ All these failed startups have one thing in common: they aim to be solutions to non-problems. For example, the startup company Juicero.

Fall of Juicero

Founded in 2013, the company vision is set to deliver cold-pressed juices around the country. Its two primary products consist of produce pouches containing various diced fruits and vegetables and a $700 juice-presser that delivers a “4-tonne force” on the pouches with enough force to ‘lift two Teslas.’ The juice presser is also wi-fi enabled and utilises IoT Technology (Internet of Things). It is programmed to squeeze only the freshest product. If a produce pouch is expired, the machine’s QR code scanner would pick it up and refuse to operate.

If you think this is an overly-complicated product for the purpose it serves, well, you are not alone. On 19 April this year, Bloomberg published a video which depicts reporters squeezing the pouches with their own hands and yielding the same output as produced by the $700 machine. As for determining product quality, pouches have imprinted on them expiration dates. So much for the need for the ‘high-tech’ QR code-reading gadget.

Despite managing to obtain $120 million in funding from big-time investors like Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers and Alphabet, the startup is now in a state where it needs an acquirer. Of course, this is not before it being the subject of some major public controversy.

Takeaway

An event like this really expounds on the importance of understanding the why of your startup. Too often entrepreneurs and investors get caught up in the hype of ‘innovation’, so much that they forget to ask themselves whether the product actually adds any value.

Determining your “why” – Abstract Laddering

A good way to understand your why, is to use a technique called ‘Abstract Laddering’ or the “5 whys”. Basically, you ask yourself a series of ‘why’ questions until you reach your true vision.

For example, you may say: My vision is to create the most efficient solar tracker.
Ask yourself, ‘Why is that important?’ to which you may say: It is important because it makes energy cheaper. Again, ask yourself: “But why is that important?” It’s important because energy is expensive and inaccessible in poverty-affected areas. And again. It’s important because we want to reduce global poverty by lowering the cost of energy. There you have it – the true vision that justifies the existence of your startup.

Let us know your thoughts on the importance of a having solid ‘why’ by tagging us at @lawpath or #lawpath.

Tony Zhen

Tony is a legal Intern at LawPath who is working with the contents team to provide legal insight for SMEs. With an interest in contract and business law he is currently completing his Finance and Law degree at the University of New South Wales.