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.