Frederik Van Lierde

Y Combinator Question 14 + How To Answer: How Often Does Your User Have the Problem?

This question from Y Combinator is pivotal in assessing the frequency and intensity of the problem your start-up aims to solve. A solid understanding of how often users encounter the problem can help determine the product’s potential usage rate and urgency. Y Combinator Question 14 + How To Answer: How Often Does Your User Have the Problem?

1. Why Y Combinator Asks This Question

Understanding the frequency of the problem helps Y Combinator determine the demand for your solution and the potential daily or regular impact on users’ lives.

This insight is crucial for assessing the viability and scalability of your start-up. If the problem occurs frequently enough, it suggests a continuous need for your solution, which can lead to steady usage and revenue.

2. How to Answer the Question

Be specific about how often your target users encounter the problem your product addresses. If possible, support your statement with data from market research or early testing.

Explain the regularity of the issue in specific terms, such as “daily,” “weekly,” or during specific activities or times.

This will clarify the need for a solution like yours and can help illustrate the potential market size and customer dependency on your product.

For example, if your start-up is creating an app to manage medication schedules for chronic illness patients, you might mention that users face the problem of medication mismanagement multiple times daily, which affects both their health and quality of life.

3. How NOT to Answer the Question

Avoid vague or ambiguous answers that don’t provide a clear understanding of how frequently the problem occurs.

Don’t make assumptions without evidence or base your responses solely on anecdotal evidence.

Do not to underestimate or overstate the frequency, as this can mislead potential investors about the urgency and relevance of your solution.

4. An Example, Based on a Tech Start-up

Let’s consider a tech start-up, QuickPark, that develops a mobile app to help drivers find available parking spaces in real-time. Here’s how they might respond to how often users encounter the problem:
  • Frequency of the Problem: “Our target users, urban drivers, encounter the problem of finding available parking spaces several times per week, often spending upwards of 20 minutes per instance. This issue becomes even more frequent during peak hours and in densely populated business districts.”
  • Supporting Data: “According to our market research involving 200 urban drivers, over 75% reported experiencing significant stress due to difficulty finding parking more than three times a week, directly affecting their daily schedules and fuel consumption.”
Y Combinator delves into how often and intensely users face the issues startups target, validating the real need and market demand for the proposed solutions.