This essay is a work in progress and
probably may be in disarray. I'm trying an experiment where I share early versions of my writings before they're ready for prime-time. If you have feedback hit me up on Twitter.
Last Updated: 2021-02-14 (Just capturing my rough thoughts)
- Product market fit, the is the elusive white whale of startups everywhere.
- It is not a "have it / or don't have it" binary statement about your business. Apparently many think it is.
- Like your product the world is grey and has blurry edges. So it's not I have it or don't have it.
- I’ve always thought of PMF as traction meets your audience(s). Are they buying & finding value from it? Yes? Do more of that!*
- Assuming that aligns with your current company and product vision and strategy. See even “do more of that” is full of grey and blurry edges.
- The reason it's not binary is because it depends on where your business is at and what matters today to that business.
- Depending on your business you can have PMF in one portion but not another.
- Ex. You sell something that has an executive buyer who consumes output of the product but doesn't generate it, the daily users do. Perhaps the users are well served and the buyer isn't. That's a situation where you could have strong signal you have great PMF (look at the all that usage!) but be missing the boat entirely.
- Ex. You sell across two different verticals, depending on what you provide you could be gaining traction in one and floundering in another. In aggregate you have "meh" metrics, but when you look at your distinct audiences you could be winning.
- Ex. Early customers just don't care for what you do, little traction exists. You go out on a limb and add something based on intel. New customers love you, the older ones are still meh. Again traction, but this time traction with newer customers. Your offering has changed! Looked at in aggregate you could miss that.
- Notice in the above examples:
1) You need to know who buys your software, their industry, their job at the company, and more. PMF is measured in cohorts.
2) Each company's unique situation will dictate how PMF is measured. Because the audiences are different, where you're at in the company is different, etc.
- PMF depends on where you're at in this moment in time. In other words how you measure it matters and is entirely up to the company.
- Take that second example, Perhaps the first vertical is the first area they went to market in. The entire company is geared towards that (for whatever reason). Do you have PMF if you're not doing well in the market you care most about? Even though you're getting traction in a different one? It depends! Maybe that 2nd market just isn't big enough (and even 'big enough' depends on who you ask).
- PMF can change over time as your north start metrics change and as you invariably move up market.
- Today's product market fit won't be the same tomorrow when you decide to tackle a new market vertical, go upmarket, or expand your product for new use cases.
- 2021-02-14: 411 wors
- 2021-02-15: 488 words
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