category creation 101 process

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, it opened a whole new category of product in the space. He accomplished this by identifying a problem we didn’t realize we had, and a solution we needed. In this section, you’ll learn how to use Category Design to expose your problem and solution to drive company development and amplify a forward-thinking strategy.

 

To complete the exercise for this module at the Techstars Entrepreneur's Toolkit, click here.

Transcript

So as a CEO or a company founder I mean basically you know all what it comes down to is maybe your most important job is to condition people's brains.

This is Steve Jobs conditioning our brains. And when he got up on stage, this was classic Steve Jobs, when he got up on stage to introduce the iPad, he literally got up and he said "we are creating a new category of product."

And he said you know, we have this new age of digital media. We consume this digital media. The phone is too small, the screen's too small. We really enjoy you know video and things like that. The laptop's too big, it's too clunky, can't really sit on your couch and lounge and do it. And so we're gonna introduce this new category of product that's made for our times. And it's this thing called the tablet, and our product is called the iPad. And he established the idea. We didn't know we even had that problem before Steve Jobs got up on stage and said you know you have this problem. And then we all go, oh yeah actually I do have that problem, I would like to have something like that.

And by identifying the category and identifying the problem, he convinced us that he had the solution. Because he was the only one that was smart enough to figure it out. And we go yeah no I guess I do need an iPad, I'll go out and buy one, 400 dollars, great. Importantly though, the idea's if you think even of the Steve Jobs example, when you think about category, it's not just about the message. It's actually about what you do. It's the strategy of your company. And it informs everything about your company. And we use this chart, this is in the book. And let me explain.

So. As many of you probably know very well right, you know when a company starts, it basically starts with product design. It's a couple of people have a good idea, we can build this thing. Or we see this opportunity. And you go and you build a product. And that's what you're focused on, creating this cool new thing. And then usually the second thing that happens is okay I've got this cool new thing that I've created, now I need a company to you know build it, sell it, do all those things that a company does. And you start thinking about what kind of company do I want to have? You know where do we wanna put it, what kind of people do I wanna have in it? You know what's the logo look like? All those things are designing your company.

Now I would guess that most of you and most people who ever start a company basically stop there. Got a product, we got a company, go. And what we've found when we studied all of these companies was that the companies that really succeed and really blow it out, have a third thing that they think about. And they think about the space they're going into. And how to influence it, and how to create it, and how to develop that category in people's minds. And by seeing the space, by understanding what the space is and what the problem is they're gonna solve, it actually comes back and influences all these other things.

Because when you see this very clearly it helps tell you what kind of product to build. And when you see this space very clearly it helps tell you what kind of company to build. But also it's a constant motion because whatever you know the product you've built, and the company you've built, help influence what the category is that you're looking at. But all of these pieces need to go together to help you to you know have a really you know forward thinking company strategy.