Getting Product Market Fit – a panel

Apr 26

Getting Product Market Fit – a panel

Why do left-handed squash players who drive yellow Camrys on a Saturday morning matter??

If you work in Product you know the term Product Market Fit or PMF or PMFIT. This milestone is a momentous point in a product’s journey and a defining cusp in potential great success and failure – but it’s hard to point to the science of knowing how to get it.

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to host a panel with some incredibly talented product folk and founders – between them over 90 products have been launched. We dug into what is pre-PMF and what is post-PMF, some wins in finding it, some fails and most importantly what methods help you get there.

Here is the link to the full session and I’ve summarised a few key points below.

The main takeaway is that PMF is about “doing the work”. Prioritizing and running experiments that align with revenue goals or okrs and measuring the results.

Trish started by:

  1. “what is the killer epic?” – this is the feature that will hook the user.
  2. in tandem focussing on nailing the key customer segment who is passionate about what you solve. Mick’s quote of “users who are left-handed squash players who drive yellow datsuns** (or commodores**) in Surry Hills on a Saturday morning.

Mick deconstructed the PMF acronym highlighting:

  1. “go-to-market” is just as important as the code you’ve written.
  2. understanding if that market is sizeable and lucrative. A good product in a bad market is antithetical to startup success.
  3. Like art, PMF is “I don’t know what it is, but I know it when I see it”. Particularly if you “can’t stop growth”, “its growing without you trying”.

Cheryl’s experience of over 60 startups was valuable. The change is from “pushing shit uphill” to “chasing the demand…I can’t keep up with this thing” (possible directions for the product).

Sometimes you find (the Spotify example) that your key users are treating your App like an operating system – they are hacking it in ways that you never imagined.

Steen related thought tools he has used over the years. Specifically oscillating back-forth between the “understanding which segments are right for your offerring” and “how can you better service those segments”. Then iterate through that cycle where you get to high level of engagement accompanied with money “flying through the door”.

The Sean Ellis’ methodology was the first to lay the groundwork for quantifying PMF. The favourite for Steen is the currently more fashionable method from Superhuman. Both of these are focused on customer/user perception of their need for your product on their chosen task.

Steen called this “toothbrush time”, that consistency of use in each day.

Stick with the whole video for learnings and some useful questions.

I’d love to followup some time with a deeper dive on marketing and audience testing methods both pre and post PMF. Stay tuned.