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Getting to Product-Market Fit Quickly

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How do you validate that your startup is solving a real problem for real customers? How to build a tight, cross-functional, disciplined team to develop and ship your MVP as quickly as possible? How do you deal with competitors, and turn competition into an advantage. This version was delivered at Product School on September 15, 2016.

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Getting to Product-Market Fit Quickly

  1. 1. Getting to Product Market Fit Quickly Sam McAfee Blackwillow Studios @sammcafee
  2. 2. Agenda Quick Intro Solving the Right Problem Building Your Product Quickly Dealing With Competition Q & A
  3. 3. About me… 17 years in tech startup industry. Founded a consulting firm, ran it for a decade. Early adopter of both Agile + Lean Startup. Coaching enterprise product and tech teams. Worked on 6 startups. Doing my 7th now. Wrote book StartupPatterns.com - Release date: Sept. 30!
  4. 4. Product Market Fit
  5. 5. Product Market Fit Solve a really painful problem for a real customer. Do it as fast as humanly possible. Make it difficult for anyone to catch up with you.
  6. 6. A brief word on product strategy…
  7. 7. Solving the Right Problem
  8. 8. Solving the Right Problem Model the customer using personas. Conduct problem interviews. Conduct solution interviews. Iterate, as needed.
  9. 9. Customer Personas Model your assumptions about customer behavior, goals, and demographics.
  10. 10. Persona Tips Use paper and sharpies. Always include a sketch. Demographics should inform behaviors. Behaviors should inform problems. Don’t model real people.
  11. 11. Problem Interviews Validate that the customer has the problems you think they do. And help you find problems you didn’t think of!
  12. 12. Problem Interview Tips Be nice and friendly. You’re not selling something. Call it research. Listen more than you talk. Have someone else take notes for you. Say, “tell me more about that” when you hear something interesting. Count things to add up later.
  13. 13. Solution Interviews Don’t combine with problem interviews. Lowest fidelity solution first. Start with your voice, then paper, then maybe software. Don’t tell them how to use your solution. Observe and listen. This is not your actual product. Don’t get caught up in the details. Get their email address for later.
  14. 14. Solving the Right Problem Understand the customer using personas. √ Conduct problem interviews. √ Conduct solution interviews. √ Iterate, as needed. √
  15. 15. Building Products Quickly
  16. 16. Building Products Quickly Define the work with user stories. Visualize the work with a Kanban board or similar. Teams should be cross-functional, dedicated, co-located. Optimize for time with space, and vice versa.
  17. 17. User Stories User-centered Simple format. With low-fidelity visuals. Definition of “done”.
  18. 18. Tip: Don’t make user stories too detailed. Rely instead on frequent communication.
  19. 19. Tip: Avoid high-fidelity mock-ups. Use a design framework and sketches instead.
  20. 20. Tip: “Definition of done” should be testable with automation, wherever possible.
  21. 21. Kanban Systems It’s all about flow. Model current process. Visualize all the work. Limit work-in-progress. Measure cycle time.
  22. 22. Tip: The Kanban board is always a work in progress. It should be defined by the team, and modified as needed.
  23. 23. Tip: If you don’t measure cycle time, it’s hard to see improvement.
  24. 24. Tip: Limiting work-in-progress reduces batch sizes. Small batches decrease cycle time.
  25. 25. Tip: Stop measuring individual productivity. Measure the team. Watch the work (flow), not the worker.
  26. 26. Cross-functional Teams Everyone sits together. Work on only a few things at a time, together. Reduce hand-offs between roles.
  27. 27. Tip: Separating design from development work creates larger batches. Larger batches increase cycle time.
  28. 28. Tip: Working on too many stories at once increases dependencies. More dependencies increases cycle time.
  29. 29. Tip: Hand-offs between functions results in queues of unfinished work. Larger queues increases cycle time.
  30. 30. Optimize Space and Time No substitute for co-location (sorry, Slack!) Co-location builds trust. Remote work should respect Conway’s Law.
  31. 31. Tip: Co-location reduces the number of meetings. Fewer meetings decreases cycle time.
  32. 32. Tip: Co-location results in casual, social behaviors that build trust. Trust helps teams move faster. Trust also helps reduce turnover.
  33. 33. Tip: Remote teams requires more communication. More communication over distance results in slower feedback loops. Slower feedback loops increase cycle time.
  34. 34. Building Products Quickly Define the work with user stories. √ Visualize the work with a Kanban system. √ Use cross-functional, dedicated, co-located teams. √ Optimize time and space. √
  35. 35. Managing Competition
  36. 36. Managing Competition Don’t worry too much, or too little, about competition. If there is no competition, you’re probably in trouble. Competition helps you focus on what matters.
  37. 37. Worry Just Enough Competition means there is business out there. Don’t focus your strategy around what others do. Segment! You can’t build everything for everyone.
  38. 38. Understand the Competition Problem interviews should reveal how customers solve their problem now. Some competitors are really partners. Integration can be a good strategy. Only compete directly where it aligns with your vision.
  39. 39. Product Market Fit Solve a really painful problem for a real customer. √ Do it as fast as humanly possible. √ Make it difficult for anyone to catch up with you. √
  40. 40. Thank You!

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