Imagine Airpods not invented yet. And you are sitting in a flight which you boarded from an Indian or a Canadian airport. There is a Sikh boy, with a turban, sitting next to you. Most people around you are using one or other types of earphones or headphones for music.
That Sikh boy because of his turban can’t use just any earphones. There are limitations on which earphones will even qualify to be “useable” by him and by so many others like him.
You pick up this as your life goal to make good quality earphones for this niche.
You use all the right design elements to ensure the design is so compact that they can even use it with the turban.
The first version of your product is out. You have somewhat cracked the code for a product which sells as an earphone-for-people-with-turban.
Fast forward a few more months, wireless tech space is also heating up and as a tech founder (also because you are generally interested in tech) when you learn about what is now possible using wireless, you decide to make your earphones even better.
You don’t have any intentions to make it for everyone. You just want to serve your niche honestly. You are just working on the feedback you are receiving from your customers.
You bring a wireless tech guy on-board to lead the efforts of making the earphones wireless. You help him internalize who your users are and tell him things which will help him empathize with the users. You make a process for him so that he can keep in touch with the users on regular intervals. Empathy dries up so you need a process, you know that. Repeatable conversations help keep empathy high of the product managers.
Now you launch the new wireless earphones. Your users of focus niche just LOVE it. They show it to their non-Sikh friends as well.
People without turban start ordering your wireless earphones.
Now you are starting to understand why Paul Graham asks you to find 100 people who absolutely LOVE your product and not 100000 people who sort of like you.
You now have a new set of users to learn from. You talk to them. You try to find a balance between servicing needs of old and new users.
Your next version of earphones is even better and is completely wireless.
You just invented Airpods, my friend.