Write a Problem Statement
This lesson will help you craft a meaningful problem statement that aligns with your goals. It will also help with the "Evidence of Important and Meaningful Problem" and "Potential Impact on Direct and Indirect Users" of the judging rubric.
In this lesson, you will...
- Learn what a problem statement is
- Write a problem statement for your app
What is a Problem Statement?
Now that you have an idea for your project and have done some market research, you can start working on your problem statement. A problem statement is a brief piece of writing that explains the problem that your team is addressing. It should outline the basic facts of the problem, explain why the problem matters, who it affects and how, and present a direct solution.
It’s important that you write the problem statement together as a team so that you all agree and remain focused on the problem you are solving as you move through the rest of the curriculum. Otherwise you might work on something only to find that it doesn’t meet the original goal!
Your problem statement should answer 4 questions:
What is the problem?
What is the need your community faces?
Who does the problem affect and how?
This is important because the people who are affected by the problem will be the users of your app.
Why is it important to solve?
Why is this problem compelling and do you have any evidence of the problem to back up your argument? What insight do you have to offer in solving the problem?
What is the solution?
This does not need to be a long response right now, just enough to give a little understanding of how the problem will be addressed.
For your purposes right now, the problem statement should not be longer than a paragraph. You can definitely explore your ideas and write them down, but as a team you should narrow down your problem statement together.
Example: Discardious by Team Charis
Here is an example of a project statement from a past Technovation Girls finalist team. Your problem statement will similarly become polished as you do research and build upon your idea:
“Calabar is densely populated and results show that 70% of individuals and businesses there store refuse, 95% use open dumps and 65% dump their refuse into gutters. This effect has led to inefficient waste disposal and an unhygienic business and home environment. Business and homeowners have a tight schedule that prevents them from disposing their waste regularly and there are no frequent visit from waste disposal agencies. Our team proposes to provide a platform for fast food companies, hotels, and individuals to dispose their waste conveniently and on time. We will provide pick up carts to get their waste in order to reduce associated health risks, will educate citizens on the effect of improper waste disposal, and will provide updates and tips on best practices.”
In the Discardious app, the user can:
- Select a location for a cart near them
- Select the number of waste bins that are needed
- Enter the address for the waste bins to be brought
- Agree to the terms of conditions
- Report a hazard by entering a location, writing a short report, and taking a picture of the scene
- Receive a message that the report has been logged
Here is a pitch and demo of the Discardious app that Team Charis created:
Work with your team to write a problem statement by answering the following questions. You can use the worksheet or write it down on a sheet of paper.
- What is the problem? In design terms, this also translates to: what is the need?
- Who does the problem affect and how? This is important because the people who are affected by the problem will be the users of your app.
- Why is it important to solve? Why is this problem compelling and do you have any evidence of the problem to back up your argument? What insight do you have to offer in solving the problem?
- What is the solution? This does not need to be a long response right now, just enough to give a little understanding of how the problem will be addressed.
Once you are done, combine your answers into a finished problem statement in paragraph form.
If you can, share it with your mentor for feedback.
Now that you’ve written your problem statement, you can refer back to it when throughout your project. It will be helpful as you create your business plan, code your app, and write the script for your pitch video. You will also be able to use it as your app description when you upload your submission.
Additional Resources: Example Problem Statements
Here are a few examples of problem statements from past Technovation Girls students:
People have a problem with not reading enough. This is particularly a challenge among young people. Research has shown that 71% of teenagers use multiple social media platforms, whereas only 53% of 13-year-olds and 40% of 17-year-olds read at least weekly. Our aim is to address the habit of students not reading sufficiently. Our solution is LexisLearn, an application that monitors students' reading time personally. The app enables students to develop the habit of reading sufficiently daily. The app allows parents and teachers to encourage students as they read. LexisLearn ensures that students learn vocabulary they acquire as they read to improve their vocabulary. We believe LexisLearn can effectively solve the difficulty of reading because 75% of teenagers currently own a smartphone.