Finding ‘Product-to-Market Fit’ starts at ideation

In the course of interacting with so many start-ups I have found one common factor. Problem with articulating the problem statement. If you have understood the problem completely then defining it in two sentences should not be a problem at all. But therein lies the problem!

A problem is a problem only if it is recognized as a problem and this is where I find most entrepreneurs getting confused. You may think there is a problem, but does the prospective customer think it is a problem? Is it actually a problem for him or a way of life?

Typically, any product or service helps to:

  • Alleviate a pain point
  • Enhance a pleasure point
  • Achieve an aspiration

There is also a fourth type of product or service that helps to improve business benefits by disrupting existing practices and processes. Here articulation is very critical because you are seeking to change status quo. You need to understand what is the change, why the change and how the change will benefit the customer.

So what does your product do? As an entrepreneur you need to clearly identify what is it that your product or service will bring to the table for the customer. What is it that will make the customer put money on the table? At the end of the day, any idea is a great idea only if it has a happy customer!

Start with the customer. You have an idea but let the idea take shape from the customer’s perspective. For example, you want to start an online store. Here the questions that need to be answered before you even start manifesting the idea are:

  1. What category of products do you want to cater to?
  2. Do these category of products require ‘touch & feel’ before buying or just a description will be enough for someone to buy?
  3. Why the need for an online store for these products?
  4. Are there brick and mortar stores for these products?
  5. How will you compete with these stores?
  6. What will you offer that will make the customer buy from your online store?
  7. What is your customer profile for those products? – geographic, demographic, psychographic etc.
  8. Will this profile of customers actually buy online?
  9. Do they have access to internet?
  10. What will you do to ensure repeat visits and purchases? Repeat visitors and customers are the lifeline of any online store, as continually getting new customers will mean having deep pockets for marketing.

These are some of the questions that need to be dealt with in detail before you start devoting any more time to the idea. This is applicable for every type of product or service.

Most important question to be answered is ‘How will the customer benefit and why?’ Your product or service should evolve only from the customer’s perspective. Only then will you have a product that will have a customer. Once you have your first set of paying customers, because you have done your homework well, then the product or service can actually go through the product-to-market fit using real time experience.

Unfortunately most entrepreneurs start this process after having manifested their idea into a product or service and then go through the pain of having to revamp their offering almost completely or actually revisit the original idea itself.

The author, Srikanth Vasuraj, is a Business Consultant focused on helping start-ups to grow. He can be reached at +91-98454 78585 or srikanth@nodiva.co.in . Please visit www.nodiva.co.in for more information.

2 Responses to “Finding ‘Product-to-Market Fit’ starts at ideation”

  1. Hi Rajiv,

    Thank you for your comment. You are right a MVP is an imperative before looking for your first customer.

    It would help to flesh out the MVP at the ideation stage itself by answering some basic questions so that the MVP is better acceptable by the potential customer. I find that most people do not go to a potential customer with a far more basic product and then find they have to do extensive rework.

    Srikanth

  2. Rajiv says:

    Srikanth,

    Well said, the 4 categories are a good insight.

    To be able to do a lot of these, it becomes imperative to come up with some basic product. It proves the capability of the team to a potential customer and helps in engaging them in a conversations.

    -Rajiv

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