What Comes Before Product-Market Fit
The last post shared some thoughts on finding product-market fit from some of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. There is a very important piece that comes before finding product-market fit however, and it's next to impossible to truly establish product-market fit if you skip this step.
This is the first step of starting a startup. I will never forget the meeting I had with mentor and advisor A.T. Gimbel of Atlanta Ventures in preparation to pitch to pitch my previous company to the Atlanta Ventures team. He made a point to emphasize how important it was that I had spent hours in front of customers when pitching myself and my company.
This emphasis was not just to know what to say when in the room with investors. Adequate customer discovery shows that you spent time understanding the problem you are solving by making an effort to speak to those affected by the problem - i.e. your potential customers. Your market consists of your customers, thus your product must be tailored to your customers to achieve product-market fit.
Before you even think about building your product, make sure you've spent as much time as you can talking to potential customers about the issues that they're facing to ensure that what you build is solving precisely that instead of rolling the dice and building blindly or based on biased assumptions.