Tag Archives: product market fit

Going from Product Market Fit to Traction – What works in Mobile Apps?

There are 3 numbers that determine if your mobile app has reached product market fit. The “Time to Wow”, “Time to Refer (TTR) and Viral Coefficient. Once you have achieved product market fit, your TTW should be short (preferably in minutes or hours), your TTR should be hours or days and your viral coefficient should be greater than 1.2 to 1.5.

Time to Wow
Time to Wow

Most entrepreneurs start with their friends and family to be their first “beta” users for mobile apps. While that’s the best logical point to baseline your TTW, TTR And VC, you might not become “big” quickly enough to generate VC-level interest for your startup if that’s your goal.

There are multiple marketing methods available for startups. Many of the mobile app companies I know have tried Facebook Ads, Social Media Engagement, some have even tried SEO and still others have tried extensive PR and Blogging

The only thing that has worked very well for non-gaming productivity apps is influencer marketing.

Over the last 1 year, at Microsoft, there have been 3 acquisitions of top mobile productivity apps – Accompli (Email client), Sunrise (Calendar) and Wunderlist (Task Manager). I had a chance to talk to the folks who were at the companies during the early days.

The only thing that worked was “Word of mouth” for marketing. None of them spent money on advertising – they did market, but they did not advertise.

The only marketing technique they adopted was influencer marketing.

Influencer marketing is the approach to get influential early adopters to try the product, then tweak to get their feedback and have them spread the product via word-of-mouth.

It is important to realize that influencer marketing begins with identifying, engaging and building your influencers way before your product is ready or even before you have a beta product.

Emailing your influencer when you need to have them try the product will not suffice.

You have to engage with them, comment, work their egos and build your credibility with them long before you launch your product.

Influencer marketing helps your increase your viral coefficient, and it may increase your time to refer, but it does not help with your time to wow.

You will get a lot more people trying and using your product if influencers recommend it, but dont expect that to be the only technique you should adopt after your product has a viral coefficient greater than 1.5

You might want to then adopt partner app referrals (when another popular app suggests your app as an add-on).

The other technique that works later is bundling – this is when you are part of a “suite” of apps which act together as a bundle and perform complimentary tasks or have a similar goal, but aid in different parts of the goal.

Startup Idea validation: How many people; how long before your idea’s worth pursuing?

Lets say I have an idea. Actually 3 different ideas I want to pursue. My next step is to get validation of that idea. The top 5 questions that I am looking to answer are (not necessarily in order):

1. Is this a real problem? (Pain point validation)

2. Is what I am trying to do solving the problem? (Product – market fit validation)

3. How much of a problem is this for the person who I am providing this solution for? (Customer validation)

4. Will people pay to have this problem solved? If so how much? (Pricing validation)

5. Is the problem big enough that I can make a large company out of solving this problem? (Market size validation)?

So the question is how much do you have to get validation for these questions until you decide to pursue it?

One approach is to actually develop, have customers pay and let the market validate your idea.Which is what was suggested by a user at HN.

The approach I am going to suggest is more measured and less expensive than actually developing the solution before you figure out if that’s the right idea for you to pursue. It involves talking to customers / prospects or even putting together a simple SEM campaign to test the idea out. I think many might say that’s not a new idea, but I dont see over 80% of startups doing this.

That’s way cheaper than time or resources to build your idea to a real product. At some time you have to build a real product and there no denying that.

First I would make a target list of 20 people – 10 who are potential customers who have the same title of the person you believe has the problem you are trying to validate. If you are a consumer startup, that might be the target audience of users who might want the product / service you are building. If you are an B2B company, look for the right title of buyer.

The list should include 5 potential industry experts, who might understand the nuts and bolts better and 5 “laymen”,  or those that have not much of an idea about the intricacies.

Is the number 20 enough? Maybe, not, but its a start.

Then prepare a one paragraph elevator pitch explaining what the problem is, and how you are going to solve it. Email it to your list and track their feedback.

Then try and get prospect validation. This is because people who know you might either a) not want to discourage you, and so give invalid answers, or b) might not understand the solution well enough to provide valid feedback.

I would setup Google adwords campaign for the keywords you think people will most likely click on. If you buy a domain and hosting from Godaddy or some other providers you even get $100 adwords credit, so there’s no excuse.

Create 3 different pages with your multiple campaigns and call to actions, and have a signup sheet (this is your call to action) for each. Track and categorize results. In each of these pages, provide a screenshot of your product / service you are trying to develop.

Wait, you think, wont this give my idea away and attract more competition. Sure, I think it might, but more likely, there’s competition already and you are just not aware of it yet is my answer. Or if there’s no competition, is that not a signal anyway?