In Praise of the Business Plan, Jerry Neumann, a venture investor and startup instructor warns that VCs who focus too much on the product demo, are doing entrepreneurs a disservice. He says they should ask founders to write a business plan that takes into account the customer, the market, and how their company will “solve pain and endlessly scale”.
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Reaching Product/Market Fit is a key objective in the life of a startup, whether it’s a journey, a continuum or a given point in time. But right after that, it becomes really important that your product roadmap remains totally coupled with your value proposition. I’m calling this condition the “Product/Value Alignment.” The first thing you should do after being satisfied with your market size validation, metrics traction and right features (i.e. product/market fit), is to check and update your value proposition. Your value proposition is the most convincing promise you make to your users, customers, and prospects. It might have already been iterated upon, but it should become progressively more ambitious and unique, as your product/market fit gains maturity.
I’ve become a fan of Aaron Schildkrout’s philosophy for the product development process, since I became familiar with his 7 Part series in Fast Company’s Co.LABS, Value-Driven Product Development: Using Value Propositions to Build a Rigorous Product Roadmap, and mentioned it in Don’t Fall in Love with Your Product. Aaron is the founder and co-CEO at HowAboutWe.com His “theory and practice of product development” is a breath of fresh air that adds to the Lean and Agile practices that are well known to startups. There’s a big emphasis on process in Aaron’s thinking, but also on creativity, taking risks and curiosity.
Don’t fall in love with your product at the expense of your value proposition. The core value proposition of a startup is such a critical element, but it doesn’t always get the proper attention. It is not just a 3-line slide. It is the only thing that ties your product to your market success. It is a promise that, once fulfilled should allow you to realize your business model.
Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday. – The Beatles It’s easy to think that Product/Market Fit is a tipping point in time when all your troubles go away, because you reached that magical moment. But that’s in theory, not reality. In practical reality, Product/Market Fit is a continuum*, and it is rarely the result of a single defining event or variable. Reaching Product/Market Fit is always obvious in hindsight, but not so clear in foresight.