🔆 The most important risk to solve for

Yellowdig’s approach to creating defensible differentiation is worth paying attention to. It’s a remarkable example of engineering for network effects.

The critical question they raise at the start of every new product: 

“What’s the most important risk we must solve to believe there is something here?”

“When we started Yellowdig, the biggest thing for us was: can we really solve the problem of engagement with a product like social learning? The difficulty was related to human behavior because that’s very unpredictable whereas features and functionality are very predictable.”

Here’s the thing:

Solving the most critical risk does two things:

  1. it helps you crack the most challenging (and costly) part first – a path others typically try to avoid
  2. Solving this part often unlocks the most significant value

Those two together are your ingredients to create a flywheel for growth (as it did for Yellowdig). That’s pure defensible differentiation – the kind that grows as you evolve because it creates a network effect.

“We started seeing users who were absolutely in love with the product. Professors told us they would not even teach again if they did not have Yellowdig in the next course. Or students coming to us stating they’d told their other instructors/professors who are not yet using Yellowdig.

We knew that if we solve for that group of users, we’d have many champions to help us promote the product.”

Key takeaway: understand the problem as deeply as possible. Solve the most critical risk first.


Question for you to reflect upon

What’s the most important risk you need to crack with your SaaS solution to make users fall in love with your product? Have you ever thought about it like that? What if you did? 


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About the author

Sales Pitch

Ton Dobbe is a former B2B software product marketer who's on a mission to save mission-driven SaaS CEOs from the stress of 'not enough' traction. He's the author of The Remarkable Effect, the host of the Tech-Entrepreneur on a Mission podcast, and writes a daily newsletter on the secrets to mastering predictable traction.