As a startup, product/market fit is your first big goal post. The best way to describe product/market fit is customer demand is through the roof and you don’t know why. You didn’t do anything to create this demand. For example, downloads, sign ups, purchases, upgrades are growing at an exponential rate, and you made no direct effort to make that happen. This means you struck a chord with the market, like a hit song or a viral video. 

There’s a fine line between the “reality distortion field” founders create and just being a bit delusional. During our first year and half as a company we were closer to delusional, and this massively extended how long it took us to find product-market fit.

In particular, I so desperately wanted an idea to “work” that I just forced ideas through and never stopped to deeply question whether people really, really had this problemPeter Reinhardt, Co-founder, CEO @ Segment

Only after you have you have found product/market fit should you spend material amounts of money on marketing. Meaning only when the product/marketing machine is optimally tuned, do you put gas in the engine.

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 as you can add more servers. Money from customers is piling up in your company checking account. Lots of startups fail before product/market fit ever happensMy contention, in fact, is that they fail because they never get to product/market fit. When you are [Before Product/Market Fit], focus obsessively on getting to product/market fit. – Marc Andreessen

There is no secret sauce to finding product/market fit. It takes months of product improvement, talking to customers and experimenting on all the things covered in this post. When you find the fit, you’ll know.

Required Reading:

  1. Finding Product Market Fit by Peter Reinhardt, Co-founder, CEO @ Segment
  2. On product/market fit for startups, by Marc Andreessen

If you enjoy this post, or learned something, please share it with a friend who could use some of this advice too. They’ll love you for making them smarter and their business better.

Thanks for reading,

Chris

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Chris Kay, Multiplicity Co-founder   TwitterLinkedin-Logo

Chris is an active member of the Toronto tech start-up community. Chris is a two-time mentor at Techstars Startup Next Pre-Accelerator program, the #1 startup pre-acceleration program in the world. Prior to co-founding Multiplicity, Chris acted as the Group Manager of the Ryerson Angel Network where he was responsible for deal-flow generation and initial screening.