First, understand the meaning of “prevent flat tires”
The ways of preventing a flat tire are as follows
1. Prevent a sharp object from penetrating the material of the tire.
2. If an object does penetrate, the object is ejected and/or the tear is filled before the tire becomes flat.
Assume the interviewer asks me to go with 1.
Potential customers – Tire manufacturer, car manufacturer, end user.
The customer I will choose is a tire manufacturer. Makers of car tires fitting a variety of models from compacts to SUVs.
Tire manufacturer – needs to create new type of tires
Car manufacturer – Needs to adopt new tires based on risk and cost profile
End user – needs to buy these tires based on value.
Potential causes/pain points for flat tires
1. sharp object penetrating tires
2. Car going over a bump at a great speed that compresses the tires and causing them to explode
3. Over inflation of tires
In addition the customer also needs to worry the cost of new technology. The range of tires that need to be produced.
1. Solution could be using multiple layers of rubber and other material
2. Metallic tires
3. Graphite and other carbon based tires
4. (Magnetic) Levitation
The goal that I’m trying to optimize is prevent flats.
1. Medium Impact, L-cost, M-Risk – This solution is the least expensive, potentially, as this would need the least interaction with other players in the ecosystem. The idea is to have metal and other impenetrable materials between layers of rubber. However, this may not be fool proof, hence medium risk. Also, wear and tear analysis may need to be studied. Potentially least time to develop. Low risk toward heat issues. Over inflation risk is similar to current tires. Minimal change to existing technology and user behavior.
2. High Impact, H-Cost – H-Risk – There is significant risk in getting adoption as customer behavior needs to be changed (both end user as well as car manufacturers). Heat issues as well as smooth ride issues as well as government regulations as these may be hazardous to the roads. The cost of developing a new metallic tire that will fit all the standards and needs of car manufacturers.
3. High Impact, H-Cost, L-M-Risk – Carbon and graphite are light weight and are used in cycling. Potentially expensive. Potentially long time to develop. Cost and technical shock for users/car manufacturers – Risk of not adopting. High impact as this completely prevents flat tires. High cost to develop, particularly over a large range of tires. Needs significant capital investment.
4. High Impact, H-Cost, H- Risk. Significant risk in terms of cost and potentially needs technology not currently available in the near future.
Based on the analysis above, I would present (1) as the product I would recommend in the short term and in the long term move to (3).