Fall in Love with the Drawback, Not the Resolution

Newest posts by Uri Levine (see all)

The next is an excerpt from “Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution copyright © 2023 by Uri Levine. Reprinted with permission from Matt Holt Books, an imprint of BenBella Books, Inc. All rights reserved 


Constructing a start-up could be very very similar to falling in love. At first, there are many concepts you possibly can pursue. Ultimately, you choose one and say, “That is  the concept I’m going to work on,” very similar to you may go on many dates till  you finally discover somebody and say to your self that this particular person is “the one.” 

At first, you spend time solely with that concept. That is when  you consider the issue, the customers, the answer, the enterprise mannequin—all the pieces.  Similar to you solely need to spend time together with your new cherished one  as you start falling in love.  

While you lastly really feel assured sufficient, you begin telling your mates about your concept, and so they normally let you know, “That can by no means work,” or “That is the stupidest concept I’ve ever heard.” 

I’ve heard that many occasions. I believe that individuals don’t say that to me so a lot anymore, however to start with, they used to say it rather a lot. Typically you’re taking your date to fulfill your mates for the primary time and so they say, “That particular person is just not for you.”  

That is normally while you disengage from your mates since you are in love with that concept, you might be in love with what you’re doing, and also you don’t need to hearken to anybody else. 

The excellent news is that you’re in love, and also you don’t hearken to them. 

The unhealthy information is that you’re in love, and also you don’t hearken to them.  

However that is the fact, and it’s related for a lot of points of your life. If you don’t love what you’re doing, do your self a favor and as a substitute do one thing you do love, as a result of in any other case, you’ll sentence your self to struggling.

You need to be completely satisfied!

It may be detrimental to disregard what others are telling you. Possibly your buddies, potential enterprise companions, or traders had one thing necessary to say and also you didn’t pay attention! However, on the similar time, you should be in like to go on this journey. It will likely be an extended, advanced, and troublesome roller-coaster journey. If you’re not in love, it is going to be too laborious for you. 

Earlier than we based Waze, I had been working as a marketing consultant for a number of start-ups. One among them was a neighborhood cell navigation firm, Telmap, that constructed navigation software program for cell phones and was provided as a service to cell operators, which then provided it as a paid subscription service to their subscribers. It was basically a B2B2C (business-to-business-to-consumer) firm. Telmap licensed its maps from third events such because the Israeli firm Mapa and worldwide mapping large Navteq. Telmap didn’t have visitors info, although.  

I approached the CEO and shared my ideas. The Telmap platform appeared a great one to hold out my imaginative and prescient. 

“Nobody cares about visitors info,” the CEO mentioned, rebuffing what I believed was a superb concept. “They care about navigation. I don’t assume visitors info can be actionable.” 

By “actionable” he meant “we’ll by no means be capable of get individuals to make use of it sufficient to make it value our whereas financially or to alter their route accordingly.” 

Again then, the one means visitors info was used was with color-coding utilized to the map—inexperienced meant there was no visitors, yellow meant there was visitors, and pink meant the visitors was heavy. However that info was not notably useful. On busy roads and intersections, there may be visitors every single day between 8 am and 9 am and between 4 pm and 6 pm, and on the similar street at midnight, there is no such thing as a visitors!  

I used to be persistent, although. Anybody who is aware of me is conscious that after I get an concept in my thoughts, it’s almost inconceivable to dissuade me from pursuing it. Telmap had 50,000 customers on the time, all in Israel, and all utilizing their cell phones with GPS. I constructed a theoretical statistical mannequin to indicate how these 50,000 random drivers can be sufficient to create actionable visitors info. It was a quite simple mannequin that turned out to be correct later once we constructed Waze.  

Right here’s how the maths works: 50,000 customers out of about 2.5 million automobiles in Israel (the variety of vehicles and vans on the roads on the time) was some 2 p.c of the whole. On a freeway throughout busy hours, there are between 1,500 to 2,000 automobiles per lane, so 2 p.c of that could be a 30-to-40-vehicle pattern per lane. 

Now, if a freeway is three lanes throughout, that might be about 90 to 120 automobiles per minute. If we may collect location and velocity always, this can be a big sufficient pattern to know what the visitors is like on that street. I attempted once more to persuade the CEO, however clearly I didn’t make the declare sturdy sufficient to persuade him.  

Whereas I finished attempting to persuade him, I nonetheless carried the urge to work on this challenge for some time till, round a 12 months later (it all the time takes longer than you’ll assume), on account of my background and my fame as an advisor to start-ups, I used to be launched by a mutual colleague to 2 entrepreneurs, Ehud Shabtai and Amir Shinar.  

Ehud and Amir have been working collectively at a software program home that Amir was working. Ehud was the Chief Expertise Officer (CTO), however in his “evening job” he had constructed a product referred to as FreeMap Israel. 

The FreeMap Israel app was a mixture of two components—navigation and map creation. The app created the map as you drove and used it on the similar time for navigation. It ran on private digital assistants (PDAs), as there have been no iPhones but. As its identify implies, FreeMap Israel was totally free—each the app and the map. 

Ehud had an issue that was just like mine: He wanted maps for his app to work, nevertheless it was too costly to license them from a 3rd social gathering. This was a important subject for each our visions as a result of with out maps it will be inconceivable to construct a important mass of customers that might generate actionable visitors info. However a start-up couldn’t afford the excessive costs the mapmaking firms have been charging on the time.  

Assembly Ehud and Amir was my second magical second; it was after I knew I had discovered what I wanted to finish my imaginative and prescient of an on a regular basis “keep away from visitors jams” app. I had an concept however no approach to implement it. Ehud had the conceptual and technological reply for the price of the map and an identical imaginative and prescient. In actual fact, Ehud was already a number of steps forward of me. Mine was in concept; he had truly already constructed a variety of what was wanted. The magic of Ehud’s self-drawing maps that created a “free” map was a prerequisite for growing a free utility that might encourage use by the variety of customers who have been wanted as a way to generate correct visitors knowledge. 

From the start of Waze, after we joined forces in 2007, it was clear {that a} GPS-powered mapping/driving/visitors app was precisely what we have been going to construct. We definitely realized that smartphones with working techniques (and due to this fact the flexibility to run apps) and built-in GPS chipsets have been turning into increasingly more common. What we didn’t know again then was that Apple would revolutionize the enterprise when it launched the App Retailer in 2008. That might in flip give Waze its greatest push. There was much more magic in that the identical app that gathers the information also makes use of it on the similar time—it’s the crowdsourcing of all the pieces! 


Begin by pondering of an issue—a BIG drawback—one thing that’s value fixing, an issue that, if solved, will make the world a greater place. Then ask your self, who has this drawback? Now, if the reply is simply you, don’t even hassle. It isn’t value it. If you’re the one particular person on the planet with this subject, it will be higher to seek the advice of a shrink. It will be less expensive (and most likely sooner) than constructing a start-up.  

If many individuals have this drawback, nonetheless, then go and converse to them to perceive their notion of the issue. Solely afterwards, construct the answer. Should you observe this path, and your resolution finally works, you may be creating worth, which is the essence of your journey.  Should you begin with the answer, nonetheless, you may be constructing one thing that nobody cares about, and that’s irritating while you’ve invested so a lot effort, time, and cash. In actual fact, most start-ups will die as a result of they have been unable to determine product-market match, which in lots of instances occurs when specializing in the answer quite than the issue. 

There are various causes to start out with the issue, along with growing the probability of making worth. One other key motive: your story can be a lot easier and extra participating; individuals perceive the frustration and can connect with that. 

Firms that fall in love with the issue ask themselves every single day: Are we making progress towards eliminating this drawback? They inform a narrative of “That is the issue we resolve,” or, even higher, they slim it right down to “We assist XYZ individuals to keep away from ABC issues,” whereas for firms that focus on the answer, their story will begin with “our system . . .” or “we.” If the main focus is about you, it is going to be a lot more durable to turn into related. If the story is about your customers and a give attention to the issue, it is going to be a lot simpler to realize relevance.