Box Product VP on the Product-Market Fit Journey
Alok Ojha is VP of Products at Box, Inc. Box is the leader in the Cloud Content Management market with over 97,000 customers, including 68% of Fortune 500 companies. Our mission is to power how the world works together. At Box, Alok leads security and enterprise product portfolio, driving Box's product strategy, long-term roadmap, and vision. Alok has conceptualized, delivered, launched, and scaled products in the enterprise software, SaaS, and Cloud Security markets. Alok is a strategic thinker with a growth mindset and has proven execution and leadership experience. He has worked at leading Enterprise SaaS software companies, including Proofpoint and RSA. He has also worked at startups, including CloudPassage and Syncplicity. Alok enjoys working with technical founders of startups, advising them on how to execute on a new product from concept to launch to growth.
He recently joined Products That Count to host an informative webinar where he discussed the Product-Market Fit journey and shared what he learned along the way, so you don't have to start from scratch on all dimensions and be left unsure of which direction to take.
During the webinar, Alok Ojha discussed his experience pursuing product-market fit and the lessons he’d learned along the way. That way, the attendees can hopefully avoid the mistakes that Alok’s team made along the way. The full presentation with Q&A is available above. Otherwise, the highlights of the webinar are below.
What is Product-Market Fit?
Ojha shared a few quotes on what is product-market fit.
“Product-market fit means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market.” – Andreessen Horowitz Co-Founding GP, Mark Andreessen
“Product-market fit means your product and its value proposition resonate with your target group. It means that the problem your app solves, and the way it solves it, reflect the needs of your audience.” – Box CEO, Aaron Levie
“The #1 company-killer is lack of market. Market matters most. When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins. Additionally, when a lousy team meets a great market, market wins. When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.” – Wealthfront President & CEO, Andy Rachleff
“Product-market fit feels like stepping on a landmine.” – Dropbox CEO, Drew Houston
How to test for product-market fit
During the webinar, Ojha shared a few models for finding product-market fit.
The Sean Ellis Test
- A simple survey: How would you feel if you could no longer use our product? Would yo be: a) very disappointed, b) somewhat disappointed, or c) not disappointed.
- If the ratio of the answer “very disappointed” is greater than 40 percent, then you’ve achieved product-market fit.
- This model building on the Sean Ellis Test by expanding the survey to four questions in total
- PMF Engine then involves a four-step process for optimizing product-market fit using the survey data:
Data Science for PMF
- Take cues from the principles of accounting. View product-market fit through three standardized analyses:
- Growth Accounting
- Customer Cohorts
- Distribution of Product-Market Fit
- Balfour’s trifecta includes:
- Non-trivial top-line growth
- Meaningful usage
What do you need to do as a PM to succeed?
There are certain skills that will best suit you as a great product manager in pursuit of product-market fit.
“In order to do all of this is you have to have the skill set. The metal to go through this phase. because it’s actually really, really fun. You have to have hustle. You have to be willing to go out and find a path to get to the customer and have the conversation. So, the second one is you have to be willing to punch to the status quo. The third thing, which is very closely connected, is that you have to have courage. You have to have courage because you have to be able to punch through the status quo, but also the courage to know that you can be wrong. And it’s possible and be self-aware of that.
You have to optimize for learning. It’s really important. We have to have that mindset. You have to deeply understand leverage. If you think of your biggest enemy, as a product manager, it’s time. Time is the biggest enemy. So, you have to find a way to leverage as much as possible, and you have to think holistically. This is even more important if you are a founder inside an existing company, you have to think about how this idea actually works. Everything else I have in the company with an existing market model or challenge that I have in the company, how does it fit together? You have to think holistically about that. And last but not least, is you have to take people along with you.”