What’s the best way to know if you have product market fit?

Andy Johns (Current VP of Growth at Wealthfront. Formerly growth at Facebook, Twitter, Quora. Ex-EIR Greylock)
Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | TechCrunch

When you’ve nailed your product, you’ll know it. Your retention will be great and people will happily engage with your emails or push notifications.

What’s the best way to get more customers for your product?

Andy Johns (Current VP of Growth at Wealthfront. Formerly growth at Facebook, Twitter, Quora. Ex-EIR Greylock)
Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | TechCrunch

Understand where your success is coming from today and double down on what is already working. If these channels are working for you without any real effort on your part, then there are huge opportunities to expand on them.

What’s the best way to get more customers for your product?

Andy Johns (Current VP of Growth at Wealthfront. Formerly growth at Facebook, Twitter, Quora. Ex-EIR Greylock)
Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | TechCrunch

Real growth is about finding and removing friction. The opportunities to eliminate friction are usually huge… they can take years to fully uncover.

What’s the best way to know if you have product market fit?

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Before Growth – Sam Altman

A startup that prematurely targets a growth goal often ends up making a nebulous product that some users sort of like and papering over this with growth hacking. That sort of works at least, it will fool investors for awhile until they start digging into retention numbers but eventually the music stops.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Before Growth – Sam Altman

I think the right initial metric is do any users love our product so much they spontaneously tell other people to use it? Until that’s a yes, founders are generally better off focusing on this instead of a growth target.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Why startups shouldn’t scale prematurely | A Founder’s Notebook

Don’t scale before you have product-market fit. You’ll burn money, delay true success, and be miserable. What’s so bad about scaling prematurely? Low ROI, high burn rate: Sales and marketing for a product without product-market fit will suffer from low conversions and low renewals. Frustration: When you don’t have product-market fit, everything seems too hard, and everyone is frustrated. Not building permanent value: When you eventually fix your … (read more)

Charlie O’Donnell (Partner Brooklyn Bridge Ventures)
Growth is a Commodity — This is going to be BIG…

If there’s one thing we’ve basically figured out in the digital world, it’s marketing. It’s table stakes. You spend some dollars to get more dollars out. It’s not complicated. That’s why I care much more about engagement–do people like what you built, versus whether or not more people used it today than they did yesterday. Plus, the startup world is littered with companies that grew exponentially without becoming successful–Fab, Turntable, Dailyb… (read more)

Sean Ellis (CEO at GrowthHackers)
Using Survey.io

Here’s an objective metric that removes emotion from the scaling decision while also giving you other important qualitative information. The key question on the survey is: How would you feel if you could no longer use [product]? Very disappointed, Somewhat disappointed, Not disappointed (it isn’t really that useful), N/A – I no longer use [product]. If you find that over 40% of your users are saying that they would be “very disappointed” without … (read more)

Albert Wenger (Partner at Union Square Ventures, Former President of del.icio.us)
Startup Management » Product/Market Fit is a Continuum

You know you’ve achieved product-market fit when the customers intuitively understand what need the product fills for them, and they have no trouble using it, in fact they enjoy using it… in fact they start telling their friends about it, maybe even telling the world about it on Twitter or other places. That’s how you know if you’ve got product-market fit.

Andy Johns (Current VP of Growth at Wealthfront. Formerly growth at Facebook, Twitter, Quora. Ex-EIR Greylock)
Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | TechCrunch

When you’ve nailed your product, you’ll know it. Your retention will be great and people will happily engage with your emails or push notifications.

Ben Horowitz (Co-Founder & Partner @ Andreessen Horowitz)
The Revenge of the Fat Guy | Marc Andreessen

Myth #1: Product market fit is always a discrete, big bang event. Myth #2: It’s patently obvious when you have product market fit. Myth #3: Once you achieve product market fit, you can’t lose it. Myth #4: Once you have product-market fit, you don’t have to sweat the competition

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Product-market fit can be hard to spot | A Founder’s Notebook

Product-market fit is a continuum, not a single point. But if you’re not in “the zone”, you know it. Everything feels too hard.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Four myths about product-market fit | A Founder’s Notebook

My personal view is that product-market fit is a continuum; there are degrees of product-market fit. You should only scale when it’s clear that you’re fairly far along the continuum of product-market fit.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Burn Rate – AVC

It is dangerous to ramp up headcount and burn until you are certain that you have the right product and the right people and processes in the organization to support the product. And early revenue traction, often driven by a passionate founder, can be a nasty head fake.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Product > Strategy > Business Model – AVC

Getting product right means finding product market fit. It does not mean launching the product. It means getting to the point where the market accepts your product and wants more of it.

Jerry Neuman (Venture Capitalist at Neu Venture Capital)
How to kiss your elbow | Reaction Wheel

Marc Andreessen says “you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. ” Unfortunately, this is simply not true. In B-to-B startups you can have a lot of buzz and a few amazing clients banging your door down and still have a product that doesn’t really do much. Or you can have a product that is absolutely amazing that great clients are beta-testing but that no one is paying for.

William Mougayar (Chief Evangelist, Advocate Marketing at Influitive, formerly CEO/founder of Engagio)
Startup Management » Product/Market Fit is a Continuum

If there is no market, even a great product and a great team will not get you there. if you can’t realize the business model, there is no Product/Market Fit. If there is no retention and referrals, there is no Product/Market Fit. Instead of building new features, or rebuilding from scratch, try pointing your product at a new market.

Marc Andreesen (Co-Founder & General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz)
How you know when you’ve hit product-market fit | A Founder’s Notebook

You can always feel when product/market fit isn’t happening. The customers aren’t quite getting value out of the product, word of mouth isn’t spreading, usage isn’t growing that fast, press reviews are kind of “blah”, the sales cycle takes too long, and lots of deals never close. And you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening. The customers are buying the product just as fast as you can make it — or usage is growing just as fast a… (read more)

Paul Buchheit (Partner at Y Combinator)
Default Alive or Default Dead?

A related problem that I see a lot is premature scaling—founders take a small business that isn’t really working (bad unit economics, typically) and then scale it up because they want impressive growth numbers. This is similar to over-hiring in that it makes the business much harder to fix once it’s big, plus they are bleeding cash really fast.

Raju Rishi (General Partner @ RRE Ventures)
When Revenue Isn’t The Answer

Closed deals and sales velocity are not exclusive measures of product/ market fit. Maybe, among your first customers, there are wide variations in the core use cases for the product. Maybe your team is struggling with lengthy sales cycles. Maybe you find yourself significantly altering your pitch for different target customers and creating multiple marketing messages along the way

Eric Ries (Author, The Lean Startup)
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

Startups occasionally ask me to help them evaluate whether they have achieved product/market fit. It’s easy to answer: if you are asking, you’re not there yet. (p.219)

Naval Ravikant (Founder, CEO & Co – Maintainer at AngelList)
“The Anatomy of a Fundable Startup”, by Naval Ravikant (Founder, AngelList) on Vimeo

How much traction is enough? How much growth in enough? It depends a lot on the startup, but generally an investor will not be impressed if you say we’re growing at 10% a month. That means you’ll double in a year and believe it or not in the startup game that’s not enough for an early stage company.

Naval Ravikant (Founder, CEO & Co – Maintainer at AngelList)
“The Anatomy of a Fundable Startup”, by Naval Ravikant (Founder, AngelList) on Vimeo

Whatever your core metric is you want to grow that by 20% per month.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Growth – AVC

Things like gaming Facebook’s open graph can temporarily stimulate growth that is not sustainable long term. Investors can be faked out by things like that. Gaming Google’s search algorithms is another way that has been done in the past. When we look at growth, we look for authentic, organic, and sustainable growth that is not overly dependent on a single source, particularly a source the startup doesn’t control. That takes some experience to det… (read more)

Raju Rishi (General Partner @ RRE Ventures)
When Revenue Isn’t The Answer

Achieving product/ market fit is the transformative moment in the life of a startup. It is the moment of metamorphosis, where a company aligns messaging, marketing, target customers, sales methodology, product roadmap, and operating metrics. This moment cannot be bypassed, faked, overlooked, or ignored. So be disciplined. Don’t get caught up in the expectations of customers, investors, or yourselves. For in the absence of product market fit, more… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Startup strategy: Why you have to demand commitment | A Founder’s Notebook

In Seeking Alpha, we wanted to keep our content free, but wanted to ensure our users valued it. So we forced our users to register. Our thinking was “We’re not interested in a relationship where you don’t value our product enough to register for free”.

Mariya Yao (Founder at Xanadu)
Lessons Learned: Rapid Iteration for Mobile App Design

the question Sean Ellis popularized, where you ask your users, “How disappointed would you be if you could no longer use our product?” and have them answer with either, “Very Disappointed,” “Somewhat Disappointed,” “Not Disappointed,” or “I no longer use the product. ” Sean did research across hundreds of startups and discovered that companies that had fewer than 40% of their users answer “Very Disappointed” tended to struggle with building a suc… (read more)

Mariya Yao (Founder at Xanadu)
Lessons Learned: Rapid Iteration for Mobile App Design

On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend us to your friends?” You mark those who answer 0-6 as Detractors, 9-10 as Promoters, and 7-8 as Neutral. Your Net Promoter score is the percent of Promoters minus your percentage of Detractors, which should be a number between -100 and +100. The world’s most successful companies typically score around +50, and top performing tech companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon regularly score over +7… (read more)

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Product comes first. If people love your product, the tiniest announcements will get attention. If people don’t love your product, no amount of marketing effort will help.

Kissmetrics (Built to optimize marketing. Track, analyze and optimize your digital marketing.)
13 Critically Important Lessons from Over 50 Growth Hackers

Leaky buckets don’t need more water, they need their holes fixed.

What’s the best way to get more customers for your product?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The three steps to building a great company, and why most startups fail on the first step | A Founder’s Notebook

Why do we move prematurely from “build a product people love” to growth? (i) It’s easier to measure user or revenue growth than it is to measure how much users love your product. (ii) Since sustainable growth is impossible without a successful product, growth metrics assume product success; so we think we can measure product success by measuring growth. (iii) Growth is the true measure of startup success, and entrepreneurs (and particularly VCs) … (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
If you have low retention, don’t scale and keep your costs low | A Founder’s Notebook

If you have low 90 day retention, then you don’t have product-market fit. But 90 day retention might not be sufficient on its own to demonstrate product-market fit. Consider also user engagement, your net promoter score, whether your product is liked or loved, and the ease of closing sales.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Growth vs Retention – AVC

It’s hard to grow if you are churning your users. You might think you have product market fit and so you scale up your hiring, your marketing, your sales, and your capital raising and spending. But if you can’t retain a healthy percentage of your users past ninety days, you don’t have product market fit yet and all the investment you make in your business is just money down the drain. So focus first on retention, then scale.

Jason Lemkin (Managing Director at Storm Ventures, SaaStr.com)
Jason Lemkin: The Right Metrics For Your SaaS Startup | InsightSquared

Overinvest in customer success – that’s my #1 growth hack. That doesn’t get you to your first 10 or 20 or 100 customers, but that’s the best way to turn those 100 customers into 1,000.

Josh Elman (Partner at Greylock Partners)
Building your growth model and Ladder of Engagement — Medium

Purpose: What is the core purpose of the product? Users: Who will care about that core purpose? Inception: How can I get people to hear about this product for this purpose? Adoption: What does someone need to do to get the product to fulfill this purpose for them? Habit: How frequently should the person use the product, and how can we get them to adopt the habit?

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Sustainable growth vs. growth hacking | A Founder’s Notebook

Most people think about growth in terms of Acquisition and Activation: “How many signups and activations have we had?” “How can we get more signups and activations?” But they should focus on Retention and Referral: “How can I retain an insanely high percentage of my users?” (= product-market fit); “How can I get them to refer their contacts to my product?” (= virality)

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Default Alive or Default Dead?

In practice there is surprisingly little connection between how much a startup spends and how fast it grows. When a startup grows fast it’s usually because the product hits a nerve, in the sense of hitting some big need straight on.

David Cancel (CEO, Co-Founder at Drift)
3 Warning Signs That Your Product Sucks

If you repeatedly hear any of the following comments, chances are you are not solving a critical problem [for your customer]: “If you made your app easier to use I would start using it. ” “I’m really busy right now but I’ll start using your app soon. ” “If your app was cheaper I would start using it. “

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Sustainable growth vs. growth hacking | A Founder’s Notebook

If your growth is all based on hacks, then your growth is a function of how much effort you can keep putting into these hacks. If your growth, which is a derivative of customer base, is itself a function of your customer base, you will grow exponentially. And that growth curve comes without you having to spend money.

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Word of mouse

…at the heart of real growth is a simple idea: People decide to tell other people.

Andy Johns (Current VP of Growth at Wealthfront. Formerly growth at Facebook, Twitter, Quora. Ex-EIR Greylock)
Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | TechCrunch

Understand where your success is coming from today and double down on what is already working. If these channels are working for you without any real effort on your part, then there are huge opportunities to expand on them.

Andy Johns (Current VP of Growth at Wealthfront. Formerly growth at Facebook, Twitter, Quora. Ex-EIR Greylock)
Real Engines Of Growth Have Nothing To Do With Growth Hacking | TechCrunch

Real growth is about finding and removing friction. The opportunities to eliminate friction are usually huge… they can take years to fully uncover.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Andy Johns on how to build a winning product | A Founder’s Notebook

Be clear about your target user. Force yourself to articulate your value proposition. Double down on what’s working by removing frictions.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The three steps to building a great company, and why most startups fail on the first step | A Founder’s Notebook

In my experience, the most common fatal error made by entrepreneurs (often encouraged by their VCs) is to focus insufficiently on building a product users love. We move from core product development to growth — prematurely. This is a mistake we’ve made numerous times in Seeking Alpha.

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

You have to innovate on distribution, not just product. Do you have a viral strategy? Do you have a platform strategy? Do you have an embed strategy? At PayPal, we had a viral strategy for acquisition through email. We bootstrapped off the eBay platform, and we embedded PayPal logos on eBay auctions.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Winback Campaigns vs New Customer Acquisition – AVC

As mobile becomes a more difficult environment to grow in (maturing market, more competition, growing dominance of the leaders), we see companies spending more and more money on new customer acquisition. While that is necessary, it is not likely the most capital efficient way to grow. Winning back churned out users can be a lot more cost effective if done right.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Retention – AVC

You can email or spam in some other way your inactive users and that might work. But what you do once they come back is way more important. You have to figure out how to make the experience better than it was when they used it previously. Some of that will likely be that the product is much better because your and your team have improved it a lot. But some of that should be an engaging experience that somehow they did not get before.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Fallacy Of Zero Sum Game Thinking – AVC

The cool thing about these marketplaces is that the sellers (or project creators in Kickstarter’s case) are the primary marketing engine. Sellers bring the first time buyers. And then many of them stick around and transact again and again, often with sellers other than the one that brought them in the first place. It is a commons where everyone (or most everyone) benefits from the expansion of the marketplace.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Search Vs Social – AVC

At some point, I became convinced that websites would eventually see more acquisition traffic coming from social than they were seeing from search, which was the king dog of Internet traffic at the time. It was a hotly debated issue but, again maybe because of how long we were on Twitter, I was convinced social would be king some day. It’s kind of funny to think that we wondered and debated about such things back in 2008 and 2009. It’s not a deba… (read more)


Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
OccupyAppStore – AVC

“”We can’t figure out how to get on the leaderboards. The app stores aren’t working for us as a distribution channel.””
To which I replied “”All the app stores use a leaderboard model which makes the rich richer and everyone else poorer. We are in the 99%, wishing we were in the 1%.””

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: “Our biggest problem is awareness”

If your startup, your non-profit or your event is suffering because of a lack of awareness, the solution isn’t to figure out some way to get more hype, more publicity or more traffic. …the solution lies in re-organizing your systems, in re-creating your product or service so that it becomes worth talking about…you can dramatically impact the ‘more awareness’ problem by investing heavily in a funnel that doesn’t leak, in a story that’s worth s… (read more)

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

Ask your [power user and really good] customers where you can find more people like them.

Rob Go (Co-Founder and Partner at NextView Ventures)
Very Basic Startup Marketing – ROBGO.ORG

The best marketing is customer success. That’s why I think it’s incredibly important that the functions of product and marketing not be thought of as two silos. The job is not done when you’ve gotten someone to pay. It is done when you have delighted a customer to the point that they can’t help but tell others about you.

Rob Go (Co-Founder and Partner at NextView Ventures)
Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing – ROBGO.ORG

I’ve been on a bit of a quiet campaign to meet a bunch of really strong user-acquisition folks at different startups in Boston and New York. One thing that is surprising is that many of these people have limited marketing experience. What they do have is a highly analytical background and a mentality around experimentation. On the flip side, more experienced marketers often enter a startup setting wanting to employ an older playbook to stick to t… (read more)

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

Experiment with different user acquisition methods like SEO/SEM, ads, mailings, etc. , but try to repay your customer acquisition cost (CAC) in 3 months.

Avrom Gilbert (COO Seeking Alpha)
Israel’s Subscription Challenge

It’s likely that at some point you will reach a point with your customer acquisition cost where it will be hard to improve it significantly. However, if you keep improving your product then your lifetime user value can keep growing indefinitely, which keeps growing your net lifetime user value. This in turn means that you can choose to increase profit or, more likely, spend more to take more market share (even at the risk of increasing your custo… (read more)

Tomasz Tunguz (Partner at Redpoint Ventures)
How Customer Success Meaningfully Reduces Cost of Customer Acquisition

When discussing customer success for SaaS startups, the conversation focuses mostly on retaining customers and reducing churn. These are two fantastic benefits with meaningful return-on-investment. But great customer success organizations can meaningfully impact another critical part of the customer lifecycle, customer acquisition, by catalyzing evangelists to refer new customers.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Premature optimization – Sam Altman

The most sustainable (and cheapest) kind of growth is word-of-mouth growth. It’s dangerous to spend all your mental energy on incremental improvements when what you really need is a step change.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup Playbook

If you have a free product, don’t plan to grow by buying users. that’s really hard for ad-supported businesses. You need to make something people share with their friends.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Mobile Downturn (continued) – AVC

So if you want to launch a new consumer mobile app, what do you do? The best answer I have heard to that question came at breakfast yesterday with an entrepreneur. He said he plans to build mobile web experiences that can go viral and build adoption of his product and use that as a funnel to drive adoption, over time, to his native apps. I’ve seen that work.

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
How to Find Your Ideal Customer | Sachin Rekhi

Take an inward look at your existing customers, using available customer registration data, your analytics tool’s demographic segmentation capabilities, customer surveys, tools like FullContact, Clearbit, Pipl, ZoomInfo, and MaxMind’s IP Address database, and interviews with sales reps, account managers, and customer service reps.

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
How to Find Your Ideal Customer | Sachin Rekhi

Determine the most meaningful attributes by which you can segment and cluster your candidate customers. Some of the most common segmentation attributes include use case, role, demographics, firm characteristics, and psychographic

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
How to Find Your Ideal Customer | Sachin Rekhi

Evaluate the attractiveness of each of your determined customer segments based on attributes that you’ve developed. Typical evaluation criteria include segment size, resonance with value proposition, willingness to pay, strongest delivered value, acquisition strategy, and strategic fit.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Why mobile traction is getting harder, not easier | A Founder’s Notebook

It’s hard to acquire meaningful numbers of new app users from app stores and other marketing channels. In contrast, over 500,000 dedicated users of our website downloaded our app in 2013, and we expect that number to increase in 2014.

David Sacks (CEO at Zenefits)
New Sales Models – David Sacks, Founder and CEO of Yammer – YouTube

I believe in the law of successful distribution arbitrage. Successsful distribution techniques are copied until they are no longer unusally effective. That’s why this is such a tough problem. Overtime users get used to techniques and they become less effective. The same techniques that got LinkedIn or Facebook to millions of users would not work today.

Paul Graham (Co-Founder & Partner at Y Combinator)
Default Alive or Default Dead?

Founders tell themselves they need to hire in order to grow. In fact the large staffs of successful startups are probably more the effect of growth than the cause. And partly because when founders have slow growth they don’t want to face what is usually the real reason: the product is not appealing enough.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Bootstrap Your Network With A High Value Niche Use Case – AVC

So if you want to build a peer to peer network, you have to find the use case that is high enough value that some people will do things (like put content into your application) that most people won’t. If you nail that, and win the hearts and minds and activity of that small high value user base, then you will have to opportunity to go mainstream. If you aim for the mainstream users first, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Mobile Web Is Top Of Funnel, Mobile App Is Bottom Of Funnel – AVC

Mobile web unique visitor growth is faster than mobile app visitor growth and the lines are diverging. This is because your mobile website is the top of the funnel for your user acquisition on mobile. It is where people land when coming from search, email, social media, text links, etc, etc.
The mobile web scales much better. You can build a large audience on mobile web much more easily than via mobile apps.