Look for ‘Despite Moments’ as you search for ‘Product Market Fit’

You have Product Market Fit (PMF) if 40+% of your users would be ‘very disappointed’ if your service shut down tomorrow. Sean Ellis, who led growth at companies like Dropbox and LogMeIn, arrived at this insight after years of trying to define what Product Market fit looked like. You can read more about Sean’s ‘Product Market Fit Test’ here along with an example of how Superhuman adapted it to filter by cohort when determining PMF.

Sean’s PMF test has become widely accepted by the startup and investor community as a great way to measure PMF. Another great way is to look for the ‘Despite Moments’.  Alex Weidauer who is the Founder and CEO of Rasa.ai (raised $14M Series A from Accel and a Techstars Berlin alum) first introduced me to his ‘Despite Moments’ idea a few years back when he was mentoring at Techstars.

Alex knew that he and Alan Nichol (his co-founder) were on the right path with Rasa when he noticed that ‘despite’ not having a signup page people would seek out their emails and contact them directly for early access. He noticed more and more ‘Despite Moments’ where early adopters encountered friction or other barriers yet still persevered ‘despite’ the product not offering them an easy solution. Alex described these ‘Despite Moments’ as magical early signals that they were on the right track.

These ‘Despite Moments’ are now what I look for as a Founder and an early stage investor. Other examples of despite moments might be seeing;

  • Users hounding you for early access to a closed beta
  • Users asking you how they can pay you when you have no payment pages
  • Users start hacking your product for other use cases that you don’t support (i.e. Hashtags in twitter)
  • Users spend a lot of time trying to get around a bug and send you detailed bug reports
  • Users are happy to attend long onboarding calls or fill out detailed questionnaires
  • Users complain about your product but keep using it
  • Users spend time exporting and transforming their data into your format so that they can import it and play with your product

No founder wants to have despite moments (i.e. friction or gaps in their product) but don’t forget ‘The Alex Weidauer Test’ when it happens. Embrace these ‘Despite Moments’ for what they are; early signal that might be on the right path to PMF!

If you have any any other examples of ‘Despite Moments’ then I’d love to hear them. You can ping me on Twitter via @ConnorPM

And thank you Alex for sharing your insights and he very kindly shared this video of a recent workshop he gave on Despite Moments. Enjoy

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