Product-Market Fit: What it is and Why is it important?
Customers become the salesperson when your product is so good” – I hear this very often.
Does this mean your customers start talking about your product out of nowhere? Definitely not.
But how does this even relate to what we are discussing in this article: Product-Market Fit?
Josh Porter explains this simply in Principles of Product Design as
Product Market Fit is when people sell for you.
For making your way across where you have people sell for you, you need to climb up two important stages.`
Initially, people find you, understand the product, use it and find value in it.
Once they start seeing value, they tend to share their experience with other people, and this cycle continues. This is what happens when you have your Product market fit with you and start experiencing Customers becoming your salespeople.
Before we dive deeper into why it is important and one of the popular product-market fit frameworks, let’s brush up a little on what Product-market fit actually means.
What is a Product-Market Fit?
The well-known investor and entrepreneur Marc Andreessen defines Product-Market Fit as
Being in a good market with a product that can satisfy the market.
This definition could be a little uncertain, but imagine you have a product no one is interested in, doesn’t solve a real problem, or is no different from the other hundreds of products already available in the market. How do you think it is going to fit in the market?
In such cases, it is highly unlikely that people would want to try out the product or understand the value proposition of the product. But we can find out whether the product-market fit is happening or not with some signs.
Signs that tell you the Product-Market fit is not happening.
- You feel that your customers are not happy because they are not able to find value in the product.
- They don’t seem to talk to people about the product.
- The growth of the user base is almost nothing.
- The deals get to the closing stage, but never really get closed.
- Mainly, the growth is not happening organically
- Press stories don’t come out that great.
At the same time, here are the signs that tell you that your stars are perfectly aligned (Achieving Product-Market fit is not going to be a splitting headache).
- Your customers are happy and looking forward to using the product. They understand the value of the product and recommend it to other people as well.
- The user base is growing, and you are busy solving issues of scale.
- You have people reaching out to you, including the media, to talk to you about what you are building.
Why is Product-Market Fit important?
Forcing kids to eat food does nothing but only stir unnecessary tension. Similarly, unless and until you understand why behind your action, it cannot change anything. So, let’s talk a little about why is product-market important?
- Without PMF fit, you will not be sure whether your product solves the huge market problem.
- You don’t want to keep investing money, time, and efforts into something which don’t thrive in the future and bring in any revenue.
- Finding a product-market fit is a key to attracting any investment. Investors show no interest in putting in money on startups that haven’t achieved product-market fit.
- CB insights suggest that the number one reason startups fail is that they don’t establish product-market fit, and 42% of CEOs of failed startups cite this reason.
Superhuman Product-Market Fit
After almost two years into building Superhuman, Rahul Vohra, the founder, was under immense pressure to launch Superhuman. But he wasn’t just ready. He also didn’t want to get stuck into the common practice of launch and see what happens. Though the internet was flooded with definitions on knowing when you have a product-market fit, Rahul still couldn’t conclude because most of them were addressed to post-launch companies.
Andreessen mentions that you feel it when it’s happening. We just discussed the whole signs on finding out whether the product-market fit is happening or not.
However, for a serial entrepreneur like Rahul, raising money or getting the press to talk about them is not a big deal, and they were intentionally turning down more users. So, it was hard for a pre-launch startup to figure out just with the signs. There isn’t a way to measure product-market fit.
That is when Rahul decided to hit the road to measure and optimize until they had a product-market fit.
He researched almost every possible definition and framework around product-market fit by Paul Graham, Sam Altman, and obviously Marc Andreessen. That is when he came across Ellis’s indicator: just ask users, “how would you feel if you could no longer use the product?” and measure the percent who answer “very disappointed.”
After considering almost a hundred startups with his customer development survey, Ellis found that the magic number was 40%.
And Rahul at Superhuman turned this into a 5-step process that they call the Product-Market Fit Engine.
- Set up a survey to ask and understand your users, how would they feel if they could no longer use Superhuman?
- Segment your users to find out your supporters and paint the picture of high expectation customers.
- Analyze feedback to convert on-the-fence users into fanatics.
- Build your roadmap by doubling down on what users love and addressing what holds others back.
- Repeat the process and make the product-market fit score the most important metric.
In a nutshell, the success of a startup is highly dependent on product-market fit, and make sure you build products that solve the real problems and add value to your users. To finish it in Paul Graham’s style, If you want some good marketing advice, make stuff that people want.
If you want some good marketing advice, make stuff that people want. – Paul Graham
The success of a startup is highly dependent on product-market fit. So, make sure you build products that solve the real problems and add value to your users.
- How Superhuman CEO reverse engineered Product-Market fit.
- Two tried-and-true frameworks for achieving product-market fit.
- Product-Market Fit: The very first step to successfully launching your product.
- How to find Product-Market fit: The 5 step process
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