Why Product-Market Fit is a Broken Concept

Dear startup founders & product builders,

The whole idea of “product-market fit,” i.e. that there’s some magical, universal, knowable tipping point for when you should stop improving your product and start marketing it, is dumb.🤪

A thread.

Sometime in early 2000s, VC-types wanted a way to say:

“I don’t think your product resonates w potential buyers, but I’d rather not give you a metric, b/c then you might cross that hurdle, and it’ll be awkward when I say no again.”

Thus, “product-market fit” was born. 🤓

The idea made its way around Silicon Valley and into the blogs+books of the era (including, most famously, The Lean Startup).

This adoption by startup world led to every founder chasing the illusive “product-market fit,” even though it has no clear, consistent demarcation.

Say we discard the binary and use a spectrum instead.

What can or should you do differently if your product is a 65/100 on some scale of customer-resonance vs. 45/100 or 85/100?

Again, it feels… like a useless concept (at least for founders, builders, & marketers).

Feels obvious that, instead, we should approach an exercise like this as a way to solve strategic problems: to choose what things to invest and not invest in.

How might we do that?

If you’re an investor with a gut feel, that’s cool. Say “my gut’s telling me not to invest, sorry.” But don’t build an indefinable, behavior-biasing concept just to get out of a hard talk.

And if you’re a founder, ignore that investor drek. Build for & market to customers.

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