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How Superhuman's CEO Reverse-Engineered Product/Market Fit

RAHUL VOHRA, founder and CEO of Superhuman and previous founder of Rapportive, shares the process he used to propel his email startup, Superhuman, toward product/market fit.

Key Quote

“I eventually started to wonder: what if you could measure product/market fit? Because if you could measure product/market fit, then maybe you could optimize it. And then maybe you could systematically increase product/market fit until you achieved it.”

Our Key Takeaways

Rahul outlines his strategy for quantifiably discovering if his company, Superhuman, had achieved product/market fit. He shares a plethora of actionable information but here are our biggest lessons learned.

  1. Segment early users to reveal “high-expectation customers.” The earliest users are not always the most qualified. As Rahul notes, "With your early marketing, you may have attracted all kinds of users — especially if you've had press and your product is free in some way. But many of those people won't be well-qualified; they don't have a real need for your product and its main benefit or use case might not be a great fit." Instead of biasing your analysis with these early users, segment to find your “biggest supporters,” and “focus the entire company on serving that narrow segment better.”
  2. Analyze feedback to convert on-the-fence users. Satisfied users are already happy with your product; dissatisfied users will “request distracting features, present ill-fitting use cases and probably be very vocal, all before they churn out.” Instead, focus on feedback from on-the-fence users. As Rahul explains, “the seed of attraction is there; maybe with some tweaks you can convince them to fall in love with your product.”
  3. Split your roadmap in half. Rahul realized that hitting product/market fit would require UX improvements for both satisfied and on-the-fence users. His solution: “Spend half your time doubling down on what users already love and the other half on addressing what’s holding others back.”
  4. Make product/market fit your key metric. “We constantly surveyed new users to track how our product/market fit score was changing. . . . The percent of users who answered 'very disappointed' quickly became our most important number. It was our most highly visible metric, and we tracked it on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis.”

Why We Think This Matters

Product/market fit is a key step on the road to sustainable growth, but as Casey Winters, growth leader at Pinterest, Grubhub, and Greylock Partners, explained previously, continued growth also requires feature/product fit:

For a new feature to find fit and create product value, it needs to check all three boxes of the feature-product fit checklist (with special attention paid to the third checklist item):

  • Retention for that specific feature
  • Scalable adoption for that feature
  • It improves retention, engagement, and/or monetization for the core product

The last point is key. Not only do the products they're building need to be used regularly and attract their own usage to be successful, but they also need to make the whole product experience better.

Summarized by Reforge. Original article by Rahul Vohra • Founder & CEO @ Superhuman