How to Achieve Product-Market Fit
A summary of a talk by Superhuman CEO Rahul Vohra, on Jason Calacanis’ This Week in Startups Podcast.
This is intended as documentation for myself, written so that others might benefit. The talk (linked above) describes an experiment that any product manager can run to better understand their users, and to help write the roadmap for achieving the highly-coveted product-market fit.
“It can even, automatically, generate your roadmap for you.”
Let’s dive in…
- “This is the story of how we [Superhuman] built a product-market fit engine”
- Marc Andreessen’s Definition of Product-Market Fit
- Sean Ellis’ Leading indicator of Product-Market Fit
- “How would you feel if you could no longer use the product?”
- Companies with Product-market Fit almost always have a rate of users answering “very disappointed” over 40%
- Companies without Product-market Fit almost always have a rate of users answering “very disappointed” below 40%
The 5 Steps to Achieving // Table of Contents
Step 1: Survey
Email these 4 questions to your users:
- How would you feel if you could no longer use < insert your product >? (Very disappointed, Somewhat disappointed, or Not disappointed)
- What type of people do you think would most benefit from < insert your product >?
- What is the main benefit you receive from < insert your product >?
- How can we improve < insert your product > for you?
- “It’s important for users to have the chance to experience the core value proposition of your product. You must wait for certain levels of activity before sending this email.”
Step 2: Segment
- “Who are the people who really love our product?”
- HXC = Highest Expectation Customer
- “The HXC is the most discerning person within your target demographic. They will enjoy your product for its greatest benefit and spread the word.
- Others aspire to emulate the HXC because they seem clever, judicious, and insightful”
- Concept borrowed from Julie Supan (Dropbox, Airbnb, etc.)
- Return to your results
- Filter to the people that said they would be “very disappointed” if they couldn’t use the product
- Analyze the answer to question #2 because the HXC will describe themselves. “Happy users will almost always describe themselves using the words that matter most to them.”
- Turn this into a rich and detailed HXC description
- Once you have the rich and detailed description, return to the survey results, segment them out and assign a persona to each one.
- You are going to have something that looks like this:
- Then, who will you decide to ignore? Take them out and recalculate your score!
During this process, I find it helpful to sort the responses alphabetically in the first-pass so as to cluster similar responses, and then create generalized labels for each response. Once you’ve been through a first-pass, go back through a second time to re-label, re-tweak your labels and add secondary labels.
Step 3: Analyze
- “Why do people really love our product? And what holds people back from falling in love with our product?”
- Return to the survey, and focus on the users who would be “very disappointed” without your product, and look at their answers to question 3: “What is the main benefit you receive from < insert your product >?”
- Word cloud the answers:
- Now, you understand the main benefit to the core users ( users who answered “very disappointed” )
- Now, you must figure out how to convert the users who answered “Somewhat disappointed” and ignore the feedback from everyone in the “Not disappointed crowd” because: “They are so far from loving your product, that no matter what you do, it doesn’t matter what you build, they’ll never fall in love with your product”
- Take the main benefits of the product (in this case speed), and segment the “Somewhat disappointed” crowd into two parts: (main benefit == speed & main benefit != speed):
- Now again, disregard the segment who did not benefit from the main benefit. “Because even if you built all their things, they still don’t appreciate the point of your product.”
- But pay special attention to the (main benefit == speed) segment, because if you build everything they want, you will convert them into an evangelist who is in love with your product.
- “How do we figure out what to build”. Analyze this segment’s (“Somewhat disappointed” users who align with the value proposition of the “Very disappointed” users) answers to question 4: “How can we improve < insert your product > for you?”
- Collect answers, toss into a word cloud, and walah:
- “it’s the long tail that’s more interesting and less obvious”
- “These are the things - that if you build them - you’ll convert that somewhat disappointed crowd into falling in love with your product.”
Step 4: Implement
Now we know what to build, so we build!
- Spend 50% of your time doubling down on the feature requests from the people who love the product (“Very disappointed” responders)
- Spend 50% of your time addressing objections of the “Somewhat disappointed” responders who align with the main benefit of the “Very disappointed” responders
Step 5: Track
Now, we need to track users over time.
Survey users weekly, monthly, quarterly, and aggregate these metrics as you build your business: