We hear the term Product/market fit all the time, but few talk about Product/founder fit. Ironically, it may be a great deal more important for your individual success.
So what exactly is it?
Product/founder fit is a measure of how well your startup fits YOU.
The better it fits, the more likely you are to succeed. Because, with full Product/founder fit, you are curve-fitting your business around you. Which means you will be far more likely to stick with it for the 3+ years it takes to build and grow your business.
The criterion for good Product/founder fit are different from founder-to-founder. Broadly speaking, you need to make sure the business you’re building matches up with your personality, skill-set, resources and goals.
Example of a bad fit
After the win of selling Pluggio I needed a new side project to work on. Uber for x was all the rage. So, I spent a long time thinking about what kind of Uber for x I could build.
I really liked the idea of Uber for coffee and snacks. So, I worked nine months nights and weekends to build a beautiful app & dispatch platform called Lyte.
When I finished building it. I launched it, hired some couriers, did some local marketing. Orders quickly started coming in. The business was officially launched and making money.
There was just one problem… I did not like it.
I discovered this the first time I used my own service. I ordered a cup of coffee. My courier quickly delivered it to me. However, I felt a strange feeling of awkwardness and wondered why I had not just gone out and grabbed it for myself.
There was no way I could spend the next 3-5 years building a business that made me feel awkward, no matter how big the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Example of a good fit
Pluggio, on the other hand, was a much better Product/founder fit for me. I didn’t design it that way, it just happened by accident. Apart from the fact it didn’t make me feel awkward to use, there were a lot of other aspects that made it right for me.
For example, I am highly motivated by talking directly to customers and brainstorming a solution to a problem they have. It’s a great feeling delighting a customer.
It suited me to work on a product that was built, marketed & sold completely online. The asynchronous nature of the work fit very well with my random hours of availability.
The B2C nature of the product was an excellent opportunity for me to learn about branding, funnels, case studies and other SaaS business practices.
The final product was very low maintenance and did not require real world hands-on operations. This was perfect for someone with a day job who only had enough time for a side project.
Find YOUR Product/founder fit
Before you embark on your next journey, I encourage you to take a step back and make sure the project aligns well with you. Here are some key questions you can ask yourself to try to establish if you have found Product/founder fit, or not.
- As a founder, does the project suit your personality type?
- Do you have enough available time to support and build it?
- Is the problem space interesting enough to work on for 3+ years?
- Do you have a way to connect with, and find, early customers?
- Do you have the skills and/or resources to build it?
- Is it something you can build and release in 3 months?
If you can answer yes to all those questions, congratulations, you’ve found something special!
Now you can start interviewing customers and iterating your product with the knowledge that you’ll see it through. Perhaps, one day, you’ll find Product/market fit too!
On that day, you’ll be unstoppable.
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I’m creator of Nugget, an online incubator & community. We help founders start and grow profitable side projects.