Product Market Fit: Enterprise Edition

Product market fit is one of the most discussed topics when thinking about early stage startups. We had an interesting session last week at First Growth Venture Network discussing this topic, but I also want share what I have been learning on the job and building an enterprise startup.

The general concept of finding product market fit applies to enterprise startups, but there are some differences and concepts you can take from consumer tech and apply to enterprise:

  1. Hunch vs Data: This can be debated either way and some may argue that there is more data available when it comes to enterprise. While this may be true we have found that following a hunch has led us toward finding product market fit much faster than data. There is a caveat: following hunches are good only when you have a deep understanding of the market, problem and domain expertise. Also, following hunches can lead to much faster iteration.
  2. Agile and Lean: We run a very lean startup and iterate as much as we can. We have found that this has been very helpful because it allows us to figure out what is not working, we fail quickly and begin testing our next hypothesis. We take this approach across all areas EXCEPT customer service. We truly value our level of customer support and do our best to respond to every single customer or user problem or question.
  3. Engagement: Building on our customer support approach, part of our philosophy has also been to engage as many potential customers as possible and get feedback on our product. This loops in with and drives our agile development and product approach. This is not as easy to do in the enterprise world because you are often dealing with large, slow-moving clients. You have to work hard finding a balance and choosing the right mix of early partners.

Chris Dixon and Fred Wilson also have some great posts on the topic. Definitely check them out.

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