A Hammer in Search of a Nail

Most startups can be well described as a hammer in search of a nail. While most of them were originally started to scratch an itch founders experienced themselves, the original problem that the startup set on solving evaporated over the many pivots the startup did in search of a big enough market opportunity. People, and engineers in particular, have tendency to fall in love with results of our work and we have especially hard time throwing away things we got used to and invested a lot of time building. Consequently, instead of looking for problems matching our experience, skills, and talent, we look for problems matching the tools we have at our disposal.

It's the reality of our times, that building things is in most cases simple and straight-forward, while finding customers for your products or services is the real challenge nowadays. In many ways, the engineers are a relict of the past, of a foregone industrial age, when engineers garnered respect in society due to their special knowledge and skills. But now the special knowledge and skills are in the hands of financial and marketing people, who are the real engineers of our times. If the financial and marketing people wouldn't be so afraid of technology and getting their hands dirty, they could create most start-ups without the need for a single engineer! Only once the product fit would be found, trained engineers would be brought in to develop a scalable solution built on solid foundations.

And of course, engineers make for some of the best financial and marketing people in the world. If only they can get rid of their fascination with hammers, and focus on nails instead.