What’s the best way to raise your series A?

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

Too frequently, entrepreneurs and investors alike believe that the goal of a Seed Round is to get a startup to the Series A. It’s not. Seed Rounds are the only time in the lifecycle of a startup where you are allowed, expected, even encouraged to test your product in search of real product/ market fit.

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

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

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

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)

What’s the best way to find product market fit?

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

Product/ market fit is ultimately about repeatability. If you understand who your customers are, what causes them to buy your product, and how to make your solution their number one priority, then you’ve found product/ market fit. But if you haven’t, you need to make some hard choices and keep searching.

What’s the best way to raise your series A?

Jason Calacanis (Founder & CEO @ Inside.com)
What is the current Series A market like (as of January 2016)? – Quora

In order to close a Series A you need 2-3m in ARR or 1m+ MAU growing at 20% m/o/m. There are too many startups with $100k a month in MRR and too many consumer products with 100-500k MAU and not enough VCs to invest in them.

Patrick Mathieson (Associate @ Toba Capital)
Patrick Mathieson’s answer to What are the metrics necessary for an enterprise SaaS startup to get a meeting with investors for a Series A? – Quora

Month-over-month MRR growth of 10% (15% is better / 20% is great).

Patrick Mathieson (Associate @ Toba Capital)
Patrick Mathieson’s answer to What are the metrics necessary for an enterprise SaaS startup to get a meeting with investors for a Series A? – Quora

A payback period of less than 12 months (9 is better / 6 is great). E.G.: “Our all-in customer acquisition cost averages about $1,000, and the average customer contributes a gross margin of $125 per month, so payback period averages 8 months.”

Ed Sim (Founder and Managing Partner @ Boldstart Ventures)
The 4 Kinds of Series A Rounds in Enterprise — Medium

The 4 kinds of A rounds:
No A round. Sucks. — self explanatory. Vision A round, super hard — raise on the promise and pre-launch, on the vision, huge market with the killer team that can build and scale. sometimes easier to raise on the promise and the expectations of amazing success than after the launch. Metrics A round, easier — killer metrics, repeatable growth and predictable sales model, used to be $80–$100k MRR/$1mm ARR, the bar is raisin… (read more)

Nnamdi Okike (Partner @ 645 Ventures)
Charting A Path From Seed To A Competitive Series A Round | TechCrunch

a top-quartile enterprise-focused VC firm may have a $1 million ARR hurdle for a SaaS deal, or that a top-quartile consumer investor may have a $2 million run-rate revenue hurdle for an e-commerce company. Also for revenue-generating businesses, future growth plans are created that articulate a clear path to becoming a large revenue company with attractive future profit margins.

Shriram Bhashyam (Founder @ EquityZen)
The Metrics Required for Raising a Series A Round

E-commerce. This is a dense market, with diminishing margins, and heavy-weight incumbents (see Amazon). Also, VCs are licking their wounds from companies like Fab and Gilt (wasn’t Gilt supposed to IPO for the last 4 years?). $1 million monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the key metric here.

Shriram Bhashyam (Founder @ EquityZen)
The Metrics Required for Raising a Series A Round

Consumer Apps. Another crowded field and the shadow of King Digital looms.
50K daily active users.
25% month-over-month (MoM) user growth.

Shriram Bhashyam (Founder @ EquityZen)
The Metrics Required for Raising a Series A Round

SaaS. Jason Lemkin (the SaaStr himself, of Storm Ventures) has noted the following: $50-150K MRR. > 100% YoY growth on MRR or annual run rate (ARR) basis.

Shriram Bhashyam (Founder @ EquityZen)
The Metrics Required for Raising a Series A Round

Marketplace. Marketplaces are tricky (trust us, we know) because of the chicken/egg problem with supply and demand (buyers want to see good supply, and good sellers will list where there are buyers). It is understood that liquid marketplaces also take a while to build. $500K-$1 million in monthly gross market volume (GMV). 20-30% MoM growth in GMV. Liquidity: > 10% demand/supply ratio. Transaction velocity: the time it takes to have a transaction… (read more)

Ari Newman (Network Catalyst @ Techstars)
How to Get From Seed to Series A – Techstars

Responses included some of the market-standard metrics like $100K MRR and double digit monthly growth as common targets.

Ari Newman (Network Catalyst @ Techstars)
How to Get From Seed to Series A – Techstars

“Build relationships, not pitches,” was discussed as well. The panel debated whether this was true for seed rounds vs. Series A. The gist of the debate was that many Series A round investment decisions can happen when the investor is in “advice mode” and the light bulb goes off.

Tomasz Tunguz (Partner at Redpoint Ventures)
How Fast Must a SaaS Startup Grow to Raise a Series A?

To satisfy both the revenue and timing conditions, the SaaSCo founders should aim for a 15%+ monthly growth rate.

Anjula Bath (Partner @ Trinity Ventures)
Fundraising – From Seed To Series A by Techstars | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Don’t ever tell anybody you’re raising money. Because the moment you tell them you’re raising money they think you’re selling them and that always works against you. I didn’t tell anybody I was raising money. I went around saying that I had this amazing idea that was getting all this tgraction and I didn’t know what to do and in 24 hours I got two term-sheets from investors.

Josh Kopelman (Partner at First Round)
What the Seed Funding Boom Means for Raising a Series A | First Round Review

When thinking about timing, remember, a good fundraising process will take between 4 and 8 weeks. Adding in preparation and time to close, you’re talking a few months. Remember this math when you’re thinking about timeline and proof points. Cutting things too close can be dangerous

NextView Ventures (hands-on seed investor, focused on internet-enabled startups)
Winning Strategies Startups Use to Raise Series A [VC Portfolio Data]

The average time between raising seed capital and raising a Series A was 303 days (about 10 months)

Jenny Fielding (Managing Director @ Techstars)
Fundraising – From Seed To Series A by Techstars | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Don’t wait until you need money to start relationships with investors. People think that you start your company, you wait a few months, you raise your round. If you need to raise money in a year or two, you need to start those relationships now.

Lee Hower (General Partner of NextView Ventures)
What Milestones Are Needed to Raise a Series A? – AGILEVC

There’s no magic formula for a successful Series A unfortunately. But these five tenets can help internet / software entrepreneurs increase their prospects. (1) Core team ready to scale (2) Demonstrable market size (3) Repeatable, cost effective customer acquisition (4) Metric momentum (5) Plausible monetization

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Some Thoughts On Seed Investing – AVC

We like seed investments in teams and opportunities where they have built and launched a product already. We don’t like investing in a concept or participating in a round where the uses of the capital will be to build and launch a product. This means the vast majority of seed rounds are not a fit for us. We pass on a lot of seed stage opportunities because it is “too early” for us.

Nnamdi Okike (Partner @ 645 Ventures)
Charting A Path From Seed To A Competitive Series A Round | TechCrunch

Top teams gather evidence to prove that the market is large enough to sustain a multi-hundred-million-dollar exit or potentially a billion-dollar revenue company. These companies typically demonstrate this evidence through a bottoms-up market analysis, starting with evidence achieved by the company and concluding with reasonable scaling assumptions supported by accurate research and trends.

Nnamdi Okike (Partner @ 645 Ventures)
Charting A Path From Seed To A Competitive Series A Round | TechCrunch

The highest-potential seed companies marshal evidence to show that they can be at least No. 1 or No. 2 in the competitive market. This requires having a detailed awareness of competitors, and understanding their strengths and weaknesses. Intel’s Andy Grove famously stated that “Only the paranoid survive.” We find that a healthy level of competitive paranoia also characterizes the seed companies that reach highly competitive Series A rounds.

NextView Ventures (hands-on seed investor, focused on internet-enabled startups)
Winning Strategies Startups Use to Raise Series A [VC Portfolio Data]

There are four strategies to raising a Series A: show audience growth, show revenue growth, show attractive small-scale unit economics, sell a huge vision and an unstoppable promise.

Moisey Uretsky (Co-Founder / Chief Product Officer @
DigitalOcean)

Moisey Uretsky’s answer to How long is the due diligence process with Andreessen Horowitz? – Quora

With that in mind after we had the term sheet signed it was about 30-45 days of due diligence for the close, which is the standard and typical timeline.

Moisey Uretsky (Co-Founder / Chief Product Officer @
DigitalOcean)

Moisey Uretsky’s answer to How long is the due diligence process with Andreessen Horowitz? – Quora

Ensuring that our accounting and projections were on point, having their analysts review the market segment to review the competitors, and then of course dotting all of the legal i’s and t’s around articles of incorporation, employment agreements, and any other legal documents that while standard, are also incredibly important to have in other.

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

Too frequently, entrepreneurs and investors alike believe that the goal of a Seed Round is to get a startup to the Series A. It’s not. Seed Rounds are the only time in the lifecycle of a startup where you are allowed, expected, even encouraged to test your product in search of real product/ market fit.

NextView Ventures (hands-on seed investor, focused on internet-enabled startups)
Winning Strategies Startups Use to Raise Series A [VC Portfolio Data]

The average amount of money [raised in Series A] was 5.2M dollars

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 find product market fit?

Seth Godin (Founder at Yoyodyne Entertainment)
Seth’s Blog: Hypergrowth

Fast growth comes from overwhelming the smallest possible audience with a product or service that so delights that they insist that their friends and colleagues use it.

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

Here’s a common way startups die. They make something moderately appealing and have decent initial growth. They raise their first round fairly easily because the founders seem smart and the idea sounds plausible. But because the product is only moderately appealing, growth is ok but not great. The founders convince themselves that hiring a bunch of people is the way to boost growth. Their investors agree. But (because the product is only moderate… (read more)

David Skok (General Partner at Matrix Partners)
Managing Customer Success to Reduce Churn | For Entrepreneurs

Customers bought your product to get a clear business benefit. To make them happy, I believe that you need to make sure they are getting the business benefits they hoped for.

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

Marc Andreessen, the legendary entrepreneur and investor and one of the fathers of the World Wide Web, coined the term product/market fit to describe the moment when a startup finally finds a widespread set of customers that resonate with its product (p.219)

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

Product/ market fit is ultimately about repeatability. If you understand who your customers are, what causes them to buy your product, and how to make your solution their number one priority, then you’ve found product/ market fit. But if you haven’t, you need to make some hard choices and keep searching.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Grind vs The Pivot – AVC

Everyone knows what a pivot is. You launch something, it fails to get product market fit, so you change direction and launch something different. But there is another approach to finding product market fit and I call it the “Grind.” The Grind is when you launch something, it fails to get product market fit, and you grind on it, week after week, month after month, year after year, until it does. Usually the entrepreneur who chooses The Grind is ob… (read more)

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Revenue Traction Doesn’t Mean Product Market Fit – AVC

Not only does the organization need to learn how customers will acquire and use the product, it is also true that the product itself may not be exactly what the market wants. In other words, launching a product is not the same thing as acheiving product market fit. The organization may need another six months, a year, or even longer to get to product market fit.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
Revenue Traction Doesn’t Mean Product Market Fit – AVC

I am thinking of a company, which will remain nameless, that ended up selling itself in a fire sale. The company had strong revenue traction early on, and with that traction raised a big round of financing, which then led to a big increase in headcount, for both sales force and product/engineering, and then faced a lot of churn in its customer base. That led to a very difficult period where the company worked hard to iterate on the product while … (read more)

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

The value hypothesis tests whether a product or service really delivers value to customers once they are using it.

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

“…the growth hypothesis…tests how new customers will discover a product or service…from initial early adopters to mass adoption…A likely way this program could expand is through viral growth. If that is true, the most important thing to measure is behavior: would the early participants actively spread the word …?”

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

Pivots come in [10] different flavors. The word pivot sometimes is used incorrectly as a synonym for change. A pivot is a special kind of change designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, business model, and engine of growth. (i) Zoom-in Pivot, (ii) Zoom-out Pivot, (iii) Customer Segment Pivot, (iv) Customer Need Pivot, (v) Platform Pivot, (vi) Business Architecture Pivot, (vii) Value Capture Pivot, (viii) Engine of Growth P… (read more)

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
Video: The Hunt for Product/Market Fit | Sachin Rekhi

Your value proposition and this is not your feature list. This is not your product roadmap. This is simply the value promise that you’re giving to your customers. This again [is] really important to distinguish from your [idea or] solution. The question becomes “Is the problem you are solving important?”

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Startup Curve – AVC

It turns out, like most success stories, the answer was simplifying the service. Taking features out. Reducing the value proposition to a clear and simple use case. This was not done in a vacuum. This was done by releasing a less than perfect product to the market, finding a few customers who wanted a less than perfect product, and then listening carefully to those customers to get to the ideal product.

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
The only startup goal worth your undivided attention | A Founder’s Notebook

Most startup founders know that success comes from figuring out a repeatable, scalable business model. And yet… so many of us get distracted by other issues along the way. An exercise: “What’s our repeatable, scalable business model? Which parts aren’t yet working well enough and therefore still need figuring out?”

Sean Ellis (CEO at GrowthHackers)
Figuring Out Your Way to Startup Success

With each new startup, I immediately started working to uncover the “must have” experience before I formed preconceptions about how and why a product would be useful. This involved a rigorous process for identifying the most passionate users and then getting their unstructured feedback about how they were getting value.

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

The solution to this dilemma is a commitment to iteration. You have to commit to a locked-in agreement—ahead of time—that no matter what comes of testing the MVP, you will not give up hope. Successful entrepreneurs do not give up at the first sign of trouble, nor do they persevere the plane right into the ground. Instead, they possess a unique combination of perseverance and flexibility. The MVP is just the first step on a journey of learning. (p… (read more)

David Jackson (Founder, Seeking Alpha)
Is your product a “must-have” according to this definition? | A Founder’s Notebook

A must-have product enables you to (i) get a job done which you otherwise couldn’t get done at all, or (ii) get significantly more of the job done, or (iii) get the job done in a significantly less painful way.

Sam Altman (President at Y Combinator)
Startup advice, briefly – Sam Altman

Listen to what your users tell you, improve your product, and then listen again. Keep doing this until you’ve made something some users love (one of the many brilliant Paul Buchheit observations is that it’s better to build something a small number of users love than something a lot of users like).

Austen Allred (Growth at LendUp, Cofounder Glasswire)
The 4 characteristics of the most addictive products | A Founder’s Notebook

As I tried to drill down into why so many people, including myself, love and use certain sites/apps/services, I’ve found common threads that tie addictive Internet products together: Rapid Cadence. Signs of User Activity. One-Click Interaction. Notification of Interactions.

Eric Ries (Author, The Lean Startup)
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to … – Eric Ries – Google Books

A startup’s job is to (1) rigorously measure where it is right now, confronting the hard truths that assessment reveals, and then (2) devise experiments to learn how to move the real numbers closer to the ideal reflected in the business plan. (p.114)

Alex Turnbull (CEO of Groove)
How We Got 2,000+ Customers by Doing Things That Didn’t Scale

[in an email Groove says…] My goal is to have a conversation – via Skype or phone – with every Groove customer. All 2,000+ of you.

Fred Wilson (Co-Founder and Partner at Union Square Ventures)
The Truth About Gamification – AVC

Gamification can amplify things people already like to do. But it cannot get someone to do something they aren’t inclined to do in the first place.

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
Video: The Hunt for Product/Market Fit | Sachin Rekhi

You want to try and achieve synthesis across your user interviews. This means looking for commonalities across the conversations. You don’t have statistically signficant information yet. A good way to help find this synthesis is to create a common set of questions

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
Video: The Hunt for Product/Market Fit | Sachin Rekhi

Use a mix of aided (open ended) and aided questions to get feedback. “What’s your biggest issue” vs “rank these issues”. If your issue isn’t on their ranking or open-ended … you probably have a nice to have product.

Alex Turnbull (CEO of Groove)
How We Got 2,000+ Customers by Doing Things That Didn’t Scale

[In their welcome email Groove would send] “If you wouldn’t mind, I’d love it if you answered one quick question: Why did you sign up for Groove? I’m asking because knowing what made you sign up is really helpful for us in making sure that we’re delivering on what our users want. Just hit “reply” and let me know. “

Slava Akhmechet (Founder at RethinkDB)
57 startup lessons

Be relentless about working the game of numbers while the product is between the two extremes [product love or product hate]. Even if you don’t sell anything, you’ll learn invaluable lessons.

Sachin Rekhi (Group Product Manager at LinkedIn)
A Lean Alternative to a Business Plan: Documenting Your Product/Market Fit Hypotheses | Sachin Rekhi

The most efficient way to operate during the earliest phases of a startup lies in between a formal business plan and unstructured iteration. 1. Target Audience. Who is the target audience is for your product or service? Be as specific as possible. 2. Problem You’re Solving. What specific problem or pain point does your solution solve for? 3. Value Propositions. Value propositions shouldn’t be the features that you are building, but the “promise … (read more)

Bill Gurley (General Partner at Benchmark Capital)
All Markets Are Not Created Equal: 10 Factors To Consider When Evaluating Digital Marketplaces | Above the Crowd | By Bill Gurley

A true marketplace needs natural pull on both the consumer and supplier side of the market. Aggregating suppliers is a necessary, but insufficient step on its own. You must also organically aggregate demand. With each step, it should get easier to acquire the incremental consumer AS WELL AS the incremental supplier.