Peter Reinhardt, CEO and co-founder of data analytics company Segment, discovered how to find right product fit the hard way: He struggled to find a proper application for his company’s product twice before hitting gold the third time around.
In retrospect, he says there was a fundamental difference in early conversations surrounding the current iteration of his product, compared to the examples that turned out to be less successful.
“Most founders tend to think that they’re a tweak away from finding product market fit,” said Reinhardt.
If you’re struggling to find a market that’s clamoring for your product however, Reinhardt says this might be the wrong approach. When you have a product people want, you’ll know immediately.
“If you’re close to what the market wants, it will literally get ripped out of you hands,” said Reinhardt. “It feels like you’re stepping on a landmine. It’s not something you can prepare yourself for. It’s like you’re trying to get the cats back in the bag.”
When Reinhardt released a version of his data analytics software on Opensource on a third and final attempt for his product, people were immediately eager to try it out, he said.
“It was like ‘Oh, shit … we’re already in over our heads,'” Reinhardt recalled.
There was a fundamental shift in the way his potential customers were talking about his product as well.
In earlier conversations, when he was working on a less-successful version of Segment’s software, potential customers would usually express interest, but it was passive.
“They’d sit back and say, ‘Oh, interesting. I see how that’s valuable. That’s very cool.'”
This was a bad sign, said Reinhardt. A product that people will want to buy will typically move the conversation forward — it will result in future meetings, connections, and conversations.
When Reinhardt and his team changed their product the third time, conversations with their potential customers rarely focused on theoretical value, he said.
“They’d say, ‘Can we set up a conversation with this person and this person?’ They never mentioned anything about value. It was clearly about solving a problem. It was immediate, a totally different thought process. When you find right product fit, it becomes concrete very, very fast.”