Turning Wicked Problems into Opportunities

August 25, 2021

Watch the Webinar Recording

“The world’s first trillionaire will be made in climate change” - Kicking off the webinar with a tweet by the famous Investor Chamath Palihapitiya, our webinar guest host Tom Higley quickly gained and sustained our audience's attention. Tom is the Co-founder and CEO of X Genesis, a Startup Studio focused on supporting entrepreneurs founding companies that deliver what the world desperately needs. Having founded nine ventures in 25 years, Tom uses his experience to solve important problems.

In this month’s webinar, Tom shared the secret recipe for solving wicked problems with our members. Keep on reading to receive a few of his secrets. In addition, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and join our LinkedIn group not to miss the next webinar sessions. 

Wicked Problems Defined

First off, one might ask: What are wicked problems? Simply put, they are critical and significant challenges such as health, climate change, or the future of work. Given their complex nature and difficulty to solve, these challenges are often overlooked by private companies. Yet, they are key challenges in society - and a great opportunity for entrepreneurs seeking both ROI and impact.

Modes for Solving Wicked Problems

To address a wicked problem, entrepreneurs can try one of three modes: first, launching a venture within the system supported by the system. Second, launching a venture outside the system in an adjacent mode so that the system at least doesn’t kill the venture. Third, and the most challenging mode, launching a hostile venture outside the system, which the system will try to kill. Elon Musk launching Tesla and SpaceX is a famous example.

Founder-Opportunity-Fit as Crucial Investment Criteria

Being mindful about time and resources to be invested, one should be watching out for Founder-Opportunity-Fit: does the entrepreneur care deeply about the problem and customer? Is the opportunity truly anchored in an entrepreneur's strengths? Having a definite yes to both questions is crucial - especially when times are getting tough.

For example, X Genesis asks their founders to start at the beginning and define what success means to them. Leaning on the Ikigai concept, founders should reflect on four questions: what they love, what they are good at, what they can get paid for, and what the world needs.

Not having a substantial fit between the founder and opportunity means a low confidence in building a selected venture with an entrepreneur. Instead, entrepreneurs should look for opportunities elsewhere - a business idea that truly fits their values, passions, and skills. Likewise, Startup Studios should focus on business ideas with a strong fit between the founder and opportunity.

Startup Studio Model as Part of the Solution

The three important elements an entrepreneur needs are outside his/ her control: A Problem, resources, and networks. That’s where the powerful strengths of the Startup Studio Model come into play: on the one hand, founders are able to gain access to all three elements at record speed by partnering with Startup Studios. Thus, founders can launch their startups within 3 to 6 months instead of 12+ months. In addition, they are able to share and even reduce risks by having an experienced venture partner. On the other hand, Startup Studios are can choose the most promising business ideas: By having substantial deal flow, Studios are able to assess many opportunities at high speed. In addition, proven processes from due diligence to venture growth allow them to identify, build and scale solutions for the most promising problems. 

That’s it, these were our key takeaways! If you are a premium member and would like to dive deeper into the best practices of Startup Studios, make sure to revisit the webinar recording and presentation. Not a premium member yet but interested in becoming one? Just reach out to us.

About Tom Higley

Tom Higley has started nine ventures and returned over $1B to investors over his 25 years as an entrepreneur. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of X Genesis, a startup studio that challenges experienced entrepreneurs to turn wicked problems into opportunities. He has served as a mentor and advisor to hundreds of entrepreneurs. In addition, Tom is an advisory board member of the Global Startup Studio Network (GSSN). He graduated from the University of Michigan and Harvard Law School. 

About the Author

Hannah Van Vorst

As Business Analyst at StudioHub, Hannah is always identifying new opportunities to expand the community and service portfolio. In addition, she builds the IT process organization at a corporate scale-up as well as mentors founders on business model design and fundraising. If Hannah isn’t in front of her laptop, she is hiking in the beautiful countryside and listening to podcasts.

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