Using the power of frustration to unlock your next business

Limvirak Chea
CMO Matthie Pouget-Abadie and CEO Limvirak Chea

“Identify a gap in the market” - it’s a business adage as old as time, but how exactly do you go from finding a problem to developing a solution, or even finding the issue in the first place?

Many successful businesses have been founded on one person’s experience of a product or service that felt lacklustre, stressful or even downright terrible, but how can that one experience truly form the foundations of a business?

Funnily enough, that’s exactly how I developed the concept for my business, Fixter - in what I thought would be a simple phone call to my local garage. Having booked an MOT for the following week, I expected to turn up, get the task done and move on with my day. Instead, I arrived only to find the garage had no record of my booking – frustrating, yes, but mostly it made me feel that I had wasted my time on what should be a simple task.

This experience made me take a step back. Instead of becoming irate at the entire process, I wanted to understand why this had happened. I began to examine the car maintenance industry as a whole. My first observation was that garages needed to be more technologically adept, with most bookings made via phone calls compared to the simple 'tap and book' system widely used in the hospitality and food service industries. Additionally, despite being an industry that was bringing in billions a year, a quick Google found minimal options for digital bookings.

After identifying this gap, several questions came to mind. If no one else was in the space, why hadn't someone addressed this sooner and swooped in? If there were competitors but the market leaders were underperforming, what would differentiate our business if we were to launch? What would be our USP? How would we guarantee we would be better?

Some might argue that launching a similar company is futile as existing businesses are ahead simply by already operating. However, it is always worth assessing the situation. From our perspective with Fixter, there was a holding belief that an online MOT was a rip-off; face-to-face interaction and relationship-building were believed to ensure the best cost by the masses. We countered this perception by commissioning research that actually showed that consumers were most likely to be overcharged in garages, demonstrating that our technology-driven approach offered the best price.

I also had to think about how to implement the digital side with garages given many were still yet to move away from traditional ways of working. By offering a clear-cut system that allowed them to strategically and easily plan their day, technology gave mechanics absolute flexibility to book appointments and ease of choosing shifts. It also meant they could operate a more accurate system for providing quotes, in turn driving more business and trust.

This step-by-step process from experiencing an issue to developing a solution may not be groundbreaking, but it works.

You need only look at the likes of Uber and Citymapper to understand this simple method’s key to success.

Uber came from the co-founders’ annoyance when stranded in Paris and unable to book a taxi. Now hailed as one of the biggest start-ups and most-used apps in the world, Uber capitalised on its convenience platform to build sister businesses such as UberEats. This now common concept has seen the brand build its worth to $148.85 billion.

As for Citymapper, it began life as Busmapper after founder Azmat Yusuf struggled to navigate the London bus system. He then identified a bigger problem overall when traversing the city, building the concept out to huge success, operating in 41 cities around the world.

If you take anything from this, learn to get frustrated with what’s currently available. Who knows, it could be the start of your billion-pound idea.

Written by
July 10, 2024
Written by
Limvirak Chea