It turns out we all sort of do both. Because the 1.0 (or 0.1) never really quite accomplishes what we’d planned, and the white space almost never ends up being filled exactly how we thought it would be.
You have to see some white space. A need in the market. And design a product for that.
But … often times, the market doesn’t know it needs the product yet. That is indeed harder than building the 78th CRM or 46th file sharing service, or cloning another product. But it’s often the real story of most successes.
The key is giving yourself time. If the white space is real, and you can ship decent product … then maybe the 0.1 fails. But at least, you get enough feedback to iterate. And iterate. And learn to sell. And then sell for a higher price. Etc.
Airbnb, Salesforce, Uber, even EchoSign … they all had an underserved market they were attacking on Day 1, yes … but the end market wasn’t really where it started.
We don’t all start off as a Workday, executing according to the playbook of the Last One we founded.
Build it. Where you see the white space. Get to 10, Unaffiliated Customers. Whatever way it takes. The pause, and figure out how to get to 100. And so on.