5 minute read
Product Market Fit is a concept first articulated by Marc Andreseen. It describes the scenario when you find a market and have a product capable of satisfying that market. It’s a simple concept, but one which is considered crucial. So crucial that many investors look at a company’s timeline and separate it between ‘Before Product Market Fit’ and ‘After Product Market Fit’.
Product Market Fit means validating that your idea is needed by people (your core community, let’s say). And that they are willing to use it (buy it, subscribe to it, read it, engage with it).
Working with various kinds of startups and enterprises testing their ideas, our team put together 5 of the most important aspects in your journey to find Product Market Fit.
1. Define what Product Market Fit means for you
Product Market Fit varies from idea to idea. If you’re in the food business, finding Product Market Fit might mean selling your food at a fair and seeing the response. If you’re a Saas (Software as a Service) it might mean finding users that sign-up or reaching the first paid user.
Defining what Product Market Fit means for you is as important as building towards it. There are many cases where defining what it means is either too lax or too ambitious. If you’re in the food industry and you cook a pie and offer it to a friend who compliments it, that’s not Product Market Fit. Similarly, if you open a 100 table pie restaurant and expect to reach Product Market Fit when every table is full, you’re doing it wrong.
In either cases, you end up with a deformed idea of your product’s success and validation.
2. Talk to people as early as possible
Talking to people is one of the best ways to start your journey. Every piece of feedback you get, even if it’s not actionable or relevant, will help you greatly.
Learn to get comfortable to talk to strangers. Learn to know how to ask about their problems. When you get them talking about what’s troubling them, you find problems needing solutions.
If you’re working on something, learn to ask for advice. The internet is a vast resource. Go to places where communities gather – Facebook groups, Reddit subs, Discord communities. Find people who are relevant to the problem you’re trying to solve. And try asking them what they think. If you’re not a natural charmer, it will take a while to get the hang of it. But once you’ve unlocked this, you’ve unlocked the most valuable habit when it comes to Product Market Fit.
3. Don’t build anything behind the scenes
Next in line to talking to people is asking them to offer you feedback.
You can build an ideal app for 6 months, without showing it to anyone but your team. And find out that your beautiful app is actually useless to people who it was intended for. Or that your business model was flawed from the start.
Or you can let people know what problem you’re solving. You can find people who are affected by that problem. Who want what you’re building. And build it together, with them at your side. Every successful business started with a core community that grew as the business grew. Even one feature that’s not needed can throw an early stage product off-track. So make sure everything you build is going to find its intended user.
4. Learn to pivot comfortably
Pivoting means shifting your business model to better match the problems of a community.
There are many cases when what you’re building will not be used the way you envision. Or when you’ve got a solid problem that you’re solving, but need a shift in your product’s perspective for it to be valuable.
That’s when you have to Pivot.
Think about it this way – Facebook was initially a way for college students to rate girls on campus. When it was built, they didn’t plan to make the product it is now, the largest social network known to mankind. More than often, pivoting is saving your idea.
Take founder Sam Udotong – he started off Fireflies as an on-campus food delivery service paid in Bitcoin. Now, about 10 pivots later, Fireflies.ai is a successful app for transcribing meeting. You can hear Sam talk about his journey over here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR5rkt1KV9g&t=1006s. (many thanks for SamDeBrule for the thread)
If you’ve tested your idea and it didn’t get traction, pivoting is the next step. Learning how to get comfortable with that is one of the key skills to building your idea.
5. Don’t get discouraged
The last point related to mental health more than anything.
Remember that the startup journey is difficult. It requires a level of energy and resilience that makes it one of the toughest things you can do in life.
You’ve always heard that successful entrepreneurs are made by overcoming many failures. That doesn’t take away from the fact that every moment when it looks like nobody is interested in what you have is discouraging.
You always have to remember that this is normal. In building your startup you’ve got to learn to manage the moment when you invested time, energy and money in something and it doesn’t pay off.