Product-market fit: I think I get it now

I’ve read this post by Marc Andreesen several times. In it, he proposes the idea of “product-market fit”, a term that has since become part of the extended Silicon Valley lexicon. Until now, I’ve only understood product-market fit on a theoretical level, having never gotten there myself at my first startup nor worked at one when it found it. But now I think I get it.

What’s changed? Well, I’ve spent the last 100 days quarantined with the CEO of RDMD, a startup that I invested in (also, she’s my wife). In that time, I’ve overheard many sales calls through our apartment walls. Here are some observations:

  • Most qualified leads end up requesting a sales proposal.
  • The company cannot write sales proposals fast enough to keep up with customers who have asked for them.
  • The company cannot hire salespeople fast enough to keep up with demand for sales proposals and first meetings.
  • Customers pull the product out of the company, expanding their use cases (and budgets) for the solution the more they engage with the company and its product, generating…yet more sales proposals.
  • Most buyers and other stakeholders are personally excited by RDMD and rooting for it to succeed; you can hear sincere excitement in their vocal inflection.

To be clear: I think both the team and product at RDMD are great, but I’ve never seen up close how disproportionately powerful the market part of “product-market fit” is until now. I think this is why Marc also wrote that “market matters most”. Based on what I’ve seen over the last 100 days, I would agree.