Even just today – I was sending an email to a friend of mine, and it bounced back, saying the address is incorrect. I remembered he recently created a new email account. And I even got a few emails from his new address. I just did not remember what it was. However, when I started typing the name, and Gmail gracefully suggested an autocomplete, which I used, the mail bounced back.
Our product was finally sorting this mess out. It was collecting all your connections from all systems out there, merging duplicates, and identifying the most up-to-date contact details for each person.
My colleagues and I were sure, everyone is going to love it. And not just, we expected everyone to give it a try the moment they hear about such a break through.
We were very surprised to see how reluctant people were – even just to give it a try…
However, what made the pain even stronger, was the fact that we’d put in months and months of product development.
And the day came when we were finally ready to stop for a moment and listen. Ready to hear what the world has to say. Ready to hear the real perception of people out there in regards to this “painful” problem and our “amazing” solution.
The discovery was simple: people indeed were familiar with the problem of contacts’ mess in their lives. However, most of them did not care!
The problem was not important for them. And when they heard about our solution, they did not have any intention of trying it out.
As mentioned, this discovery cost us many months of research, development, product planning, graphics and user experience work, testing, releasing several versions,… you get the point. This cost us money and this cost us time.
Fortunately for us, we still had enough resources, and were able to pivot and find our Product-Market fit somewhere else. But that’s another story 😉
Fortunately for me, I took this lesson seriously. I started thinking: was it possible to make this discovery sooner? Or maybe even much, much sooner?
Well, it took me some time to learn the tricks. After years of experimenting and applying methodologies and techniques taken from Lean Manufacturing, Lean Thinking, Lean Startup, and others, I can see many ways how a startup can, and I believe should, develop its product.
It is all a matter of aligning every step of the product roadmap with immediate and real market feedback. Even before you have a working product you can try it out. Even when all you have is just a concept – it is time to validate it. And make each next step only in the direction “voted by actions” by your target audience.
In my next article I will describe the 5 steps of the Product-Market Fit Framework.
Here is how it starts:
“A few days ago my youngest daughter, Alice, learnt a new trick: She put her tongue between her closed lips, and strongly breathed out…”