PMF — Product May Fail ?!— how to achieve Product market fit

I’ve got an idea, a high passion, and I’m ready to launch it to the market! GREATTTTT!
but hold on a second, have your service got PMF?
What is PMF? !?<$_)@#*&~+”:

PMF is an abbreviation of 「Product Market Fit」, a well-known jargon among start ups, yet many of them are scared of… because majority fail to achieve it , to be precise— they couldn’t find it in time before running out of money or passion.

Product market fit is the point when you realize that your service/product could solve the pain and deliver a value to your prospect which turn into a customer because they are willing to pay for it.

Some of the people might call it “alpha phase” or “0–1 phase” (zero to one) which describes the moment when your service is moving from zero customer to getting the 1st customer. Basically, it is a gate before your service is going to launch to the market at scaling stage. It help validating that your service is able to sell to the target market.

The fundamental guideline to achieve is looks simple but challenge in the reality. Before moving to few examples, let’s take a closer look what are key actions to validate for a PMF.

Checklist: The 3 Understandings

  1. Understand the specific persona or the characteristic how your target user looks like for your service.
  2. Understand that your service has unique selling point (USP) among existing solution in the market or existing alternatives.
  3. Understand to design the core functions and evaluate the feasibility or risk to develop such service.

( Bonus: Understand that you and team are capable to make actions. One head is almost impossible to conduct research, reach to prospects, analyze feedback, and develop the service. Hence, make sure you have the team members who deeply connected to the vision with expertise. )

Once you and team share the same vision and ensure of those 3 understandings, the excited journey is in action.

1. Develop an MVP

MVP stands for “minimum viable product” ( some article uses minimum viable prototype). It refers to the least possible function or feature that you can built and deliver to the prospect to interact and test it. You need to adjust the mindset to derive an MVP as quick as possible instead of wasting the resource to built it perfectly. At this point, you need to run a test as fast as cheap as you can due to it usually happens several times of iteration.

2. Reach to your prospects

If you have a connection to reach to your prospects — it’s awesome if not you need to figure out how to make a move. Certainly it depends on the nature of the service domain you are focused. Please remind that the quality is important than a quantity. An ideal is 5–10 prospects you could able to check and follow-up for feedback. You can consider to reach through your connection, conduct a seminar, searching through Linkedin or a popular selection could be building a landing page.

BUILD A LANDING PAGE
Header:

Service name with short and precise statement of what the service solve and values it deliver to.

Body:
Why your service — offering few bullet points of the benefit the prospect will get. If the market domain has existing rivals, convey why your service is better, what is unique.

Service Concept — displaying the interface (mock-up UI) to help the visitor understand better.

Some example of use cases— providing use cases if possible and necessary to attract specific group of prospect when reading it.

Bottom:
Leaving the contact form in the bottom for prospect to fill in if they’re interested. You can also make this button appears right after the header as well.

Additional trick (if you think it’s convincing) is to add extra pop-up icon in the header that this is a closed β campaign with limited no. of prospects.

3. Analyze feedback from MVP trial

You got MVP and prospects. It’s time to deliver MVP to start the trial. In some case, you may simply observe the customer and jot down their interaction with your service but if not, your MVP should have ability to track key actions from the trial user.

Set a key metrics of your MVP
e.g. If your service is social network (e.g. Clubhouse) — metrics are daily active user, no. of created room, no. of participants/room.

Predict an ideal situation for a successful MVP
e.g. If user do “X” action for “Y” times/day ➡️ Good case

Collect qualitative feedback
Set an interview to check about impression and feedback from the prospects. Combine the data collected from the trial with the interview result to analyze it the insights.

Tips: Avoid utilizing direct input for requested additional feature unless you did clarify with the prospect why they said so.

4. Build-measure-learn loop

You create MVP — get prospect — deliver MVP for trial — collect feedback — analyze and reflect to the team. If the ideal situation you predict is not met for minimum of 5 prospect during the trial, you need to iterate and continue this loop until you achieve it. Meanwhile, the speed is crucial, so your team should also watch out any existing or new competitors in the market.

Example of Japanese SaaS “MVP” VS. “product”.

I’d like to provide a B2B example from Japanese SaaS called Unipos — a peer bonus system, aims to derive recognition and engagement among employee in the organization. It offers an integration with Slack and Microsoft Teams — for the employee to post the message which is open in public to entire company which other people can see and engage with “clapping” counted as a points. The points later became a money or exchange for other reward provided by the company.

The product — Unipos’s user interface ( reference: https://unipos.me/en/ )

Now, let’s take a look at the MVP they’ve made. Below is the simple carton boxes, put it in the office and test it with internal employees. At that time the CEO called it「発見大賞 as a SaaS」( Discovery Award as a SaaS )

Unipos MVP ( reference: https://www.fringe81.com/blog/?p=2941)

The key takeaway is sharing the reason why getting the product market fit is a crucial step before launch to the market and showing what are the important guideline-actions. They consist of implementing an MVP, reaching to your prospect, and analyze the feedback until you obtain certain good cases from the trials.

Good luck to your mission. It would be nice to hear all of your experiences — please leave it in the comment box.

Business development at HENNGE K.K.,Japan / Former Logistics senior specialist at Toyota APAC HQ, Thailand / Cafe-exploring and illustration is my hobby.

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