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How to build a digital startup product that people want


Mariel Rubinstein

Articles by Nova’s Marketing Executive, Mariel Rubinstein.

Updated 24 October 18



David Ogilvy once said, “people don’t buy drills, they buy holes”. People don’t buy products, they buy outcomes.


In order to create a successful product, you need to have a solid understanding of what your customers want to achieve. This way you can create the solution which delivers a better outcome.

Over time, the problems people have encountered and the outcomes people have wanted have rarely changed. However, the products people have used to solve these problems change all the time.

Let’s explain with some examples:


People wanted a place to collect and show their ideas.

Startup scrapbook of collected ideas

People still want to.

Pinterest to show ideas



People wanted a place to express their thoughts and opinions.

Build for a product market fit

People still want to.

Twitter to express thoughts


People wanted somewhere to showcase their favourite photos.

Photo showcase for images

People still want to. 

Instagram to show photos


It doesn’t matter what product you build, as long as it helps people achieve the outcome they want to buy.


Start with the problem

Too many budding entrepreneurs invent a problem to solve. This is guaranteed failure. Good products solve real problems that affect real people.


  1. Solve a problem no one has before: You will have an increased chance of success because you will have no competition.
  2. Solve a problem by creating something better than existing solutions: Much like the examples we discussed above, creating a solution that improves on existing products and makes it easier for people to achieve their desired outcomes will be more likely to succeed.


Fundamentally, if you can help people achieve what they want using a quicker, easier, more delightful method than they’ve already got, people will want to buy it. After all, it’s easier to make things people want than make people want things.


Creating a solution that solves your customers problem and provides the outcome they’re after won’t happen overnight. You certainly won’t nail it with your first idea, so be open to change, listen to your customers, and whatever your solution, keep it simple.


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