The downside of a novel product

(Originall appears on Indie Hackers)

There are pros and cons to selling a product based on “novel” technology.

Selling has two phases. First, the customer needs to understand the problem they are having. Then, they need to understand how your solution addresses the problem.

If your product solves an existing, well recognized problem, you skip the first part. You immediately focus on your product and what differentiates it from other solutions.

When you have a “novel” product, unlike anything else on the market, you can’t skip the first step. You need to first sell the problem itself and make your customers aware of their pain points. They may not have known about these pain points, or may have not known that they could be solved. Only after they understand the problem, can you try to sell your product.

I experienced this when selling my product, Timestamps. It uses novel tech to make it easy for DJs to make tracklists for their mixes. There’s nothing like it in existence, which made selling hard because I first needed to show DJs that this was a problem they had. It took a lot of explaining for it to click with certain people, but once they understood, they really liked it.

I write this because I think people often dream of being the first solution in an untapped market. This does come with benefits, but it’s important to be aware of the downsides.

Any thoughts?