Vitamin, Painkiller, Steroid or Candy?

Mark Gavagan
2 min readOct 4, 2022
image of colorful candy
Photo by Customerbox on Unsplash

One added thought in the “P.S. below, 9/6/2023.

This is an extension of a long-established way of thinking about #startups.

‘Is your product/service a vitamin or a painkiller?’ seeks to categorize it as either something nice to have or solving a problem.

While helpful, lots of great businesses don’t really solve a problem, but they aren’t just ‘nice to have’ either.

I suggest two additional categories: Candy and Steroids.


‘Candy’ is my term for products and services that provide a strong uplift in users’ lives, in the form of profit, entertainment, connection, boost in ego, pleasure, etc.

BeReal, video games, roller coasters, and Tough Mudder are examples.


‘Steroids’ is my term for products and services that supercharge, so users are faster, stronger, more capable, etc.

An example is Instagram filters, which allow an ordinary person to convert their amateur photos into beautiful, professional-looking images with a simple button click.

Even though it’s possible to back-into a way of framing what some of these do as solving a problem, the ‘candy’ or ‘steroid’ category might be a more natural fit.

And of course, in some cases, a product/service may fit more than one category, especially when considering various audiences.

Thanks for your time!

  • Mark

P.S. When looking for startup ideas, instead of “solve a problem” try “fulfill a strong desire” (more expansive).

Also, Cole House super fast mobile websites can help any business upgrade to a minimum score of 90 from Google’s Page Speed Insights.

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