It was a personal problem that led me to start my company. (Many founders would say the same.) Back in high school, I wasn’t able to find the auto parts I needed. After doing a ton of research, I eventually sourced what I needed. I used my new knowledge to solve the same problem for friends, which led to a side hustle in high school and college.
I was thinking really small then. How can I make some money and help my friends out? After some exposure to bigger thinking in corporate America, I realized it wasn’t just my friends who had this problem—I could solve it for many people. That realization led me to start CCAW, which focused exclusively on automotive parts.
In hindsight, I wish I had thought even bigger about the problem we were solving. We used technology to connect consumers to the auto products they desired. But the same accessibility problem exists in numerous industries. I was so focused on the automotive space that I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. We might have been able to use our technology, with modifications, to solve the broader problem in other industries.
If you’re a founder solving a problem you’ve had yourself, take a second to think about it more broadly. It may not change what you do in the short term, but it could inform what you do long-term. You just might stumble upon an innovative long-term vision and huge market opportunity.