We suggest starting with iterative testing that pairs needs with solutions and gets these solutions in front of specific types of people for their reactions.
A crucial half-step to product/market fit is identifying a problem that a specific set of people have and care about solving. The second half step is finding the “tip of the spear” for a particular solution that these people want to use (and eventually pay for - we will cover monetization testing in How do I know if anyone will pay for what I’m building?)
Remember: A product is a (particular) solution to a problem that a specific set of people care about solving (enough to pay for it).
The first step for testing your way to product/market fit is defining the specific type of person who you are building for and what needs they are trying to solve.
Clearly articulate what you’re trying to solve and for whom. If during this process you realize you have more than one specific type of person who you are building to support, great - make sure you break each potential target user out into her own solution brainstorming area
In the same vein, if you have a single type of person you are building to support and multiple needs arise for this person - again, that’s great, just make sure you break each potential problem you are solving - even for the same user type - into its own solution brainstorming area.
Foundations is built to account for multiple target audiences and multiple needs within and across these audiences.
Once you are clear on the first audience / need pairing you are ready to go deep on, let loose brainstorming all of your solution ideas for this person’s problem.
After you have finished brainstorming solution ideas, you'll want to step away for a few minutes (go get lunch or a coffee; even let the initial brainstorm sit overnight). When you’re able to come back with a clear mind, group similar ideas together. Once you have the basic solution options - grouping similar ideas into the same option - refine the language for each so a person outside of your company can read each solution option and understand it easily.
Now you are ready to test the solution options with real people. To recap, you have framed a specific problem for a specific type of person and you have come up with multiple solution ideas that this person could want to use to solve their problem.
With Foundations: Tests, these ideas are structured to cleanly encapsulate the three must-haves for finding the “tip of the spear” for product/market fit:
Here is what an example solution idea looks like for a real person.
Each person - who represents a real potential user - will see a single solution and will be able to give you quantitative and qualitative feedback on this solution.
You can run a test for a few days with real people and quickly get a signal for whether your ideas resonate with the people you thought they would.
Your test results will weed out bad ideas so you can focus on going deeper only with the good ones - giving you confidence that you are moving in the right direction. The earlier you know if real people have a genuine interest in your idea and why - finding the”tip of the spear'' - the better.
Foundations can help.
As builders, we make things for people. As product builders, we make things for people to use to fulfill specific needs and get to specific outcomes.
Builders—designers and engineers broadly—bring to life the ideas of the working collective. They focus on solving concrete problems with tangible solutions and pushing for experiences that feel intuitive and considered because they live in the specifics of the experience and functionality being created.
The most powerful part of Roadmaps is the dynamic prioritization and sequencing algorithm with 100+ different logic combinations and outcomes.
Have you built a product people use but you have not yet had people pay for it? If so you are essentially subsidizing a thing you built. It may be with your own money or with someone else’s money but your business is not yet self-sustaining or ready for scale.
People sometimes think they are on the way to product/market fit because they’ve identified a complex system that can be better optimized. Taking a step back - this is identifying a systemic problem - not necessarily a solution that people want to use and pay for.
Product/market fit is a term that defines a very specific milestone in a company’s lifecycle. Hitting product/market fit is when the company is ready to sell the product and scale the solution for many users who all share the same need. Product/market fit is what creates the foundation for a self-sustaining, scaled business.