Finding Product-Market Fit
Nickey Skarstad is the VP of Product at The Wing, creating digital tools that help women go further, faster together. Before The Wing, she was at Airbnb as a Product Lead for Airbnb Experiences and at Etsy as a Director of Product on the seller experience. She has deep roots in building for and with communities and for women!
Skarstad recently spoke at a Product That Count hosted webinar and discussed how to define product-market fit and then how you can be intentional with product decisions to help you find it.
The webinar focused not only on finding product-market fit but discussed what is happening with product-market fit amidst a global pandemic. Skarstad shared examples of companies that have adjusted during this time and how product people are adapting to the situation. We recommend watching the entire video above, or you can find the highlights below:
On the definition of product-market fit
Skarstad got to the point with helping the webinar audience understand what is product-market fit.
“ It’s very simple. If you boil it down, it essentially means you have an awesome product. And that product satisfies a market need.
So essentially, having that market that’s ready for your product is actually incredibly important and relevant. You need to make sure that you’re going into a market or the market is ready for your product. If not, you need to pivot to a new market or you need to change your products who don’t meet that market need.
As people who are building products, it’s really important to think about that market. What the market needs are, what your consumer needs are, and then how you build that thing in a way that’s actually going to serve those needs of those consumers. That’s what product-market fit is, and how you know you have it.”
On indicators of product-market fit
If you’re a great product manager, you’ll recognize some of these instances as having achieved product-market fit.
“If customers are just super mad if you have changed a workflow or changed your product or are so passionate about something that they will send you really angry emails about those changes that you’re making. That that’s often a good sign. You have to be careful as the person building the product that you’re not abusing that or changing things too often, or changing things without reason. It’s a healthy signal. People are using this enough where they were mad when I changed it on them, and I didn’t necessarily give them enough notice.
I’m not saying that you should piss people off. But if you are pissing people off because you’re changing things, they actually care. So with great power comes great responsibility. Words of spider man’s uncle?
Do they put up with your bugs and crappy product decisions? This is another good one. I think a lot of startups, especially with early products with bugs or user experience hasn’t quite figured out design, but people will still use it. They will put up with your bad product decisions. If they are putting up with your issues, and you know, they’re telling you about where your product doesn’t fulfill their needs, that’s a great signal that people are engaged. They’re paying attention, and they care enough to pester you to fix those things.”
On why to invest in product-market fit now
As we all know, the world has changed a lot in the past month. Why should we care about product-market fit?
“The world has shifted pretty aggressively. I think it actually matters more than ever, and PMs, who maybe were sitting in really cushy roles where they didn’t necessarily have to rediscover how to drive growth or growth was just happening, have to really think and go back to the basics. Really figure out how to drive growth again. There’s so much pivoting happening out there that there’s so much to learn from the experience and how companies are adapting.”
On the product-market fit of companies in a pandemic
Some very safe, high-growth companies have been hit very hard during this time, and others that have small or steady growth have skyrocketed.
“Open Table. They essentially published or like before, this pandemic situation and after. And what you see here is literally a year over year growth. Look at how in-person dining and reservations is trending. It’s literally at a net negative 100%. And so, I think a lot of companies that had a very cushy product-market fit or like our very long-tenured products, like Open Table have really like lost their footing really quickly.
Talking about the product-market fit hockey stick graph, it’s interesting to watch. If you sort of see the growth of these apps and these products, they have really spiked after COVID came to the US. You can understand why Houseparty, which is a virtual chat app where you can do like quizzes and it’s very social. So, that has spiked as people have used it.”