Start talking to any early-stage founder and they’ll likely bring up product-market fit.
It is the make-or-break reality that entrepreneurs are always chasing. Building demand for a product and getting paying customers is essential if an idea is to grow into a venture-backed business.
But how do founders know exactly when they’ve reached that elusive moment of “product-market fit”?
That was the topic three founders looked to answer on a panel this month with TiE Atlanta, an entrepreneurial support organization.
One of the panelists, Infinite Giving co-founder Karen Houghton, said that metrics are only part of the equation.
“I think, as a founder, it is a feeling,” she said. “It’s a push versus a pull. How hard am I having to sell my product? How hard am I having to pull that customer…[if you are saying] no, no, no, you really want what I’m selling…you do not have product-market fit. But the moment you start feeling that momentum and those conversations become a lot easier, then you are starting to have something.”
Advice on finding that fit
TiE Atlanta’s recent panel offered some key insights into how founders can find product-market fit. During the keynote, Kabir Barday brought his own unique perspective about what it was like scaling the unicorn cybersecurity startup OneTrust. For him, product-market fit wasn’t a singular destination; rather, it has been an iterative process at each phase of the company.
During the main panel, Anir Pradhan, COO of EmpInfo, said entrepreneurs should really flip the conversation and focus on “market-product fit” throughout the lifecycle of the business.
“You have to understand your market before you even define what that product is. You don’t really don’t want to create a hammer looking for a nail to hit,” he said during the panel. “And markets aren’t static. Market expectations change, needs change, markets evolve. So your products need to evolve.”
You’ll want to dive into the full conversation, which you can do right here: