Determining whether or not there is real demand for your product (otherwise known as product-market fit) is the most important thing for an early-stage idea. As a founder with a new idea, it’s easy to believe that other facets of your startup are just as important (eg attending conferences, raising money, finding early employees, press coverage), but all of them are meaningless unless there’s a real need for your proposed solution.
In other words, getting thousands of new sign-ups for your product or raising your first million dollars are both poor uses of your limited resources if those customers and funds are then focused on a product that doesn’t solve a real problem.
Identify true demand first and everything else will come much easier.
Because I’m so focused on this critical first step, I’m always paying attention to related topics like...
But something has always nagged me about this process.
Anyone who knows even a little about surveys/polling/the scientific method understands the concept of biasing the data. In many areas, having unbiased results is critical to having useable results. With this in mind, I’ve always struggled with how exactly to get an early group of users because the quickest & easiest people to get are people close to the founder. But, of course, these folks are very biased because of their affinity for the founder.
In this podcast/video, a very experienced product person and investor makes the point that an early founder of a consumer startup needs to be able to get their friends to use a product or it’s simply not ready (ie it doesn’t have product-market fit).
Over the years I’ve had dozens of friends ask me to use their products. At the very beginning I might have done so because they were friends, but ongoing usage was 100% dependent on the value of the product.
So if you are the founder of a consumer-focused startup, don’t be shy about asking your friends to use your product if they are target customers. Their initial sign-up (and what they tell you over time) might be biased, but their ongoing usage won’t lie. Plus the best ones will sit down and give you some deeply meaningful (good/bad/ugly) feedback that you wouldn’t otherwise get from a target customer who was a stranger.
If you are particularly interested in product, here are all my blog posts tagged "product." Enjoy!
Get Right to the Lesson
I’d recommend listening to the entire thing, but to get right to the point go to minute 42:30 of this podcast/video.
Thanks to these folks for helping us all learn faster
Josh Elman (@joshelman), Partner at Greylock Partners (@GreylockVC)
This Week In Startups (@TWistartups )
Jason Calacanis (@jason)
Jacqui Deegan (@jacqKD)
Jacob Beemer (@jacobbeemer)
Please let me and others know what you think about this topic
Email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org or let's discuss publicly at @davempayne.