" What problem are you trying to solve? "

The hardest and most (ir?)relevant question I've ever had to think about

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

What is common to Lean Startup, Marketing, and interviewing Sales candidates?

The same question comes up over and over again:

What problem are you trying to solve?

When it comes to Klaro Cards, I can easily say that it's the hardest question I've ever been asked. The question has popped up regularly for the last 5 years, and I'm still not able to provide that "one sentence" answer that should make our homepage more attractive.

Before trying to answer it once again, let me makes things clear: the question is extremely relevant... but (possibly) only if you take sales as your unique focus.

If we want to sell Klaro Cards (we do) then providing a compelling answer may be THE difference between success or failure. But as soon as you abstract from sales, the question is (might be?) irrelevant.

I mean, would you ask "What problem are your trying to solve?" to someone who plays music, drinks a whiskey, or starts a family? Of course not. That person is enjoying life, having fun, or simply following the natural course of life...

I'm not a sales person, I'm a researcher. I build Klaro Cards because I enjoy work - it's fun, and it's all part of my research adventure.

Yet we also give/sell Klaro to others because it solves their problems... and mine.

Our customers' problems

If I abstract from who our customers are (pharmaceutical, IT, architecture, etc.), I would say that Klaro contributes to solving a very common problem:

human projects are hard

human projects are even harder under tight budget and time constraints

That's true for every customer we have:

  • Building software is hard, especially under tight budget and time constraints;
  • Building a house is hard;
  • Developping a vaccine is hard;
  • Building a startup company is hard...

These things are hard because they require having a clear mind, building plans, choosing priorities, communicating effectively, meeting deadlines... all that jazz.

Klaro Cards helps because it provides a way to visualize and act on things that really matter. Probably more importantly, it enables fruitful discussions among people while enforcing a focus: we talk about the cards on display and nothing but the cards on display. And it does so way more effectively than Excel and Slack or even, Jira or Trello.

But that's really vague, isn't it?

My problem

To go back to my personal motivation in building Klaro Cards:

I dont't want to learn 10 different tools to solve 10 different problems

Simply because it does not scale: what if I end-up having 100 problems?

At first glance, the follow-up work required to build a house / start a company / build software / prospect customers / document features / translate books / organize events / sort gift ideas / write a blog / ... / is very similar. It requires providing people with clear & easily accessible information about those things and their statuses.

From that prespective, Klaro Cards is just some sort of basic database, with a decent UI.

If you look at similar tools (e.g. Basecamp, Clickup, Notion, or even Odoo), you'll find marketing variations around the "One tool to rule them all". Klaro Cards fits that mindset too.

Observe however that there are two versions of that motto. Indeed, you can either build a tool with 1000 different features, or one with 3 (meta) features to solve 1000 different problems. Maybe it's arguable, but I think we are more of the second kind while many tools are of the first.

Even if Klaro has "many" features, its kernel is about cards (what we talk about), dimensions (how we enrich the discussion) and boards (how we install a focus). You can reduce a million problems to those three things.

Credit goes to E.F. Codd, the inventor of the relational model and relational databases: A modern database is just a collection of sentences that are considered true at a given moment. With time passing, while humans build their stories about the world, digital databases reflect their state of truth, on which they act.

Klaro Cards is just a modern version of that. I have fun building it. It's all part of my research adventure.