Paul Michael Allen

Product Innovator. Startup Coach. Bizdev guy. Community Organizer. Entrepreneur. Designed in California. Now in Colorado + Ohio.

June 30, 2013 8:39 pm

There are so many worthwhile problems waiting to be solved!


I see lots of business pitches every day and nearly once a week I get pitched the same exact silly idea: an app that lets 20-somethings find each other at bars. It’s been going on for years.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a recent Ivy league graduate or a junior college dropout, the idea never gets any better and it’s identical each time.

It’s not just find-a-friend-in-a-bar pitches. I see tons of recipe-sharing pitches, and better-way-to-find-a-retailer pitches, and better-way-to-deliver-food pitches, and better-way-to-exchange-class-notes pitches, and better-way-to-monitor-social-media pitches.

What bothers me isn’t that these wannabe entrepreneurs have crappy ideas that already exist. What bothers me is that these ideas are so genuinely unimportant and so many of these wannabes lack the basic curiosity to explore beyond their own commonplace needs and routines.

Meanwhile, back in the real world there are lots of genuinely worthwhile problems to be solved.

Here’s one example…

Richard Nachum Kligman is a father, entrepreneur and Tribe member whose 11-year old son has cerebral palsy. His son’s name is Moishy. Moishy needs to wear a bib because like millions of people in the world Moishy has low muscle tone that causes him to drool.

So what did Richard do? If you guessed that Richard created an app that connects people with special needs you’d be wrong.

What Richard did is to start a clothing company that makes stylish shirts made with special fibers that absorb drool and quickly dry without odor.

And he started a Kickstarter campaign that has raised nearly $20,000 in just a few days! It’s not over yet so check it out and please share it with anyone you know that likes worthwhile ideas…

Now many readers may say, “What a touching idea” or “What a heartwarming story” and I’d agree it’s a touching story. But what Richard is doing is much more than that. First he extrapolated that an important yet unaddressed business opportunity may exist based on his son’s actual needs (need versus nice-to-have). Next he’s creating (actually delivering) a product to address this opportunity.

I know this sounds overly simplistic but trust me, the vast majority of pitches I see don’t even address a plausable need or nice-to-have. And they’re seldom accompanied with a working product.

Will Richard’s new business grow as large as AirBNB or Groupon (also pretty unimportant ideas in my opinion)? Probably not. But let’s think about how big an opportunity he may be addressing. Forget about the business opportunity. Just think about the opportunity to remove stigma and bring a measure or normalcy to millions of kids with special needs. And millions (soon to be many millions) of elderly!

Richard took a maker’s approach to addressing his son’s real need. In the process he may end up addressing a real need for millions of others.

That’s what makers do. They dig around for genuine needs that aren’t being addressed and create things the world may need. However big or small.

Even if you don’t have a special needs friend or loved one, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Richard’s Kickstarter campaign. And please share it with everyone you know. Thanks!

— Paul

P.S. Again here’s the link to the Kickstarter campaign again:

  1. paulmichaelallen posted this