Intro To Product/Market Fit

by Derek on March 30, 2010 · View Comments

Sure “you can always feel product/market fit when it’s happening” (according to Marc Andreeson’s first post on the topic), but what does product/market fit mean? Thankfully, there are some pretty bright folks out there doing their best to articulate what it’s all about. These are some resources that I’ve found helpful on my journey towards the light…

Start Here

If you weren’t curious enough to click on the link to Marc Andreeson’s post about P/MF above, here’s a second chance. The notion of “making something that people want” isn’t new or earth shattering, but Marc tells an empassioned narrative about why product/market fit matters.

That post should have you saying, “Great. Now what?” Enter Sean Ellis, startup marketer and sought-after post-P/MF optimization consultant.

In the Startup Pyramid post, Sean reiterates Marc’s point that you should only seek to scale once you’ve achieved fit. How do you measure if you’ve achieved fit? According to Sean (and based on his experience with 100+ startups), you just need to know what percentage of your customers would be ‘very disappointed’ if they could no longer use your product or service.

To that end, Sean developed a simple customer survey to answer that very question. Here’s a post that details more of the thinking that drove the development of that survey. As a brief aside into the real world, I recently pulled together & launched a similar survey for Zeo; even though we’ve already launched, I strongly believe that the survey will help our company find the love and help me exert influence without authority.

Now That I Have Your Ear

I’ll get right to the point. If you liked what you read in the links above and want to learn more and/or would like to begin to start moving your company/institution in the right direction, you have to check out:

And (Please) Don’t Forget

If you’re in a startup and only get around to one book this year (in between putting out fires), please make it The Four Steps to the Epiphany.

Four Steps is anchored in ‘Customer Development’, which represents the process (flow charts and all) by which you achieve fit (another aside: I’m proud to say that we now have a Customer Development team at Zeo).  Steve Blank separates the ‘Customer Development’ process from ‘Product Development’  and, in doing so, he presents a strong case (and methodology) for driven learning/discovering/failing with early customers (or earlyvangelists) that is separate from the product execution component.

There’s a lot of wisdom in those pages and I highly recommend you pick it up if you are or may be developing a new product soon.

The End

Thanks for getting through this long post. I hope this piques your curiosity on the topic – more soon for sure (both from books & the real world).

What did I miss?

  • Steven Milstein

    Nice summary! For reasons of Defensibility (Guy Kawasaki), we started with product development and iterated a few times based on usability tests & friendly feedback. While we could always find reasons to iterate, we're now heads-down into Customer Development. Better late than never, I hope :-)

    Thanks for the help.

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