The Ultimate Product

The other day, I met with an entrepreneur and we talked about his project.
He first stated his mission, and then dived into his product and service and how it worked. As he talked about the various features his site had, how users would interact with the product, and what would happen when they did, my brain was actually split. Half my brain was following what he was saying, and the other half thought about his initial mission statement. As his talk went on, my brain halves began to diverge.
The second half of my brain was constructing the ultimate product to his initial mission statement. The ultimate product is the product that completely satisfies the users’ problem as defined by the mission statement.
When my brain halves diverged, I was unfortunately very uncomfortable at this point. This is because what the entrepreneur was describing was not the ultimate product, but in fact something different. At this point, I stopped the entrepreneur in his description about the product and we talked about the ultimate product.
I detailed it out and walked through in the ideal case, what that was, and how it would work. But it was unfortunately different than what he was describing. It was one of the reasons why I felt uncomfortable in supporting him in his project, because his product seemed to be enough off the path to the ultimate product that there were more than necessary barriers to getting there, when it seemed to me that there were more direct paths to the ultimate product.
I think it’s a worthwhile exercise to construct the ultimate product for a given need, and then see if you can get there via your startup’s evolution. If you can imagine the ultimate product in your mind, I think it can give you guidance on how to build it. But if you don’t know what that is, how can you know if you’re on the right path to get there?