Does your startup tap into a deeper human need?

As an entrepreneur, sitting down to think of new business ideas can either be a quick and easy experience or a nightmarish struggle. Either way, once the ideas get flowing how do we know that these business ideas have a chance of working? Will they fulfill a need in society? Will I have the right motivation to see the ideas through? Will the idea be marketable and well-received by my customer?

An interesting answer to this umbrella of questions can be gleaned from a short article titled ‘The Place of a Good Life’ which was written as part of a foreword to the book “Competition or Compassion” detailing the Dalai Lamas’ discussion of business ethics. In the article, the author discusses the definition of a ‘good life’. Stating that it is taught as almost intuitive that one ‘good life’ cannot be a good fit for everyone. Since we are all so vastly different to each other, taking a non-judgemental view of others is, therefore, common sense, and people must be allowed to be free to pursue their own personal good life. The author argues that this view is attractive but misleading. In fact, much of the ‘good life’ we attempt to define lies in ‘collective provision’, gifted, for example, by social norms, clean air, and safe streets. However, we also share many deep, inescapable, similarities.


These similarities that we all share bring us together across genders, races, and geographical locations. They are deeper than a requirement such as a yearly holiday or to have chocolate. When you are looking for are thinking about launching a business idea, wouldn’t it be nice to know that your product will tap into that deeper need in people and will have the potential to be adopted by everyone?

So which requirements of a ‘good life’ do we share? Who currently fulfills these needs?

  1. Access to goods – Amazon, Alibaba, Ebay, Bitcoin, Paypal, Supermarkets
  2. Physical well-being (Security and health) – Gym craze, health food craze, clothing, Uber, Internet of Things security
  3. Environment – solar, electric cars, recycling
  4. Sovereignty (Control over your life) – Map apps, internet
  5. Spirituality – Headspace, Meditation Studios, Yoga, Mega Churches
  6. Community – Airbnb, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter
  7. Human life and family

The next big question to ask is “How can this information be harnessed for better and more successful entrepreneurship?”

It is important to understand whether your business idea will be a success in your chosen market. Each of the commonalities identifies a potential market that is applicable to every single person. By ensuring that your business idea improves access to one of these commonalities in people’s lives, you can increase the chances of your idea being adopted.

If we take one of the most successful recent companies, AirBnB, we can see that they have tapped into a few of these deeper commonalities. Firstly, initial resistance to the idea came from the potential fears of home security and personal safety from people staying in your house – Joe Gebbia discusses how AirBnB overcame the ‘stranger-danger bias’ and designs for trust here:

– however, the company tackled this head-on by designing a reputation system for hosts and guests and the disclosure of personal information. Furthermore, the success of Airbnb also comes from the fostering of greater community. The company allows you to share your home with others, and through this brings people into each others intimate spaces. We Airbnb’d a room in our house and what we experienced in terms of meeting new people, sharing a meal, and conversation was unusually intimate. Inducing this sort of ‘home away from home’ feel has been a quick success and not only created a cheaper way to travel, but also a more community focussed one.

Airbnb made travel cheaper, increased the sense of community, and designed for trust. Perhaps, if you make sure your business idea improves access to one of our innate needs or at least doesn’t directly violate them, it may be quickly adopted. Personally, I think as the Western world becomes increasingly secular the rise of new business and technology that fills the gap left by spirituality will be the next big thing.

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