How can entrepreneurs properly assess their product-market fit before launching? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
This is an absolutely essential component of starting a successful company.
At ZEDEDA, we spent almost a year talking to potential customers before we started developing our product. From the first iteration of our idea to the point where we are today, we also made several course corrections in response to the feedback we were receiving, as part of a continuous learning and iterative process. The result was that, when we were ready to begin working with customers, we had honed a solution that fit their needs precisely.
Based on my experience in product management for 10+ years, I would recommend to spend as much time as you can talking to potential customers and other industry experts about your idea before launching into full-fledged productization. The idea that we had identified--the need to make computing at the edge as simple and secure as it is in the cloud--was solid, but our initial thoughts on execution benefited tremendously from those conversations we had.
From a more macro perspective, if you're in the early stages of trying to determine if there's even a need for your idea, what I'd recommend doing is thinking about what use cases existing products can't fill. This is how we began to approach edge computing; we saw that the cloud was really taking off and that it would be the future of business, so we asked ourselves, "What are the use cases that won't be covered by the cloud?" That's when we thought about all the data being generated by sensors and the nascent Internet of Things. Given our career backgrounds in networking, my co-founders and I realized that it wouldn't be practical to send all of that data to the cloud for analysis.
We knew that edge computing would have to fill that gap, that it was inevitable, and we then consequently realized that the major pain point of edge computing would be the massive complexity that it brings as customers end up deploying thousands of edge gateways and servers at remote distributed locations to aggregate and process IoT data before sending it to the cloud. That's how the idea for ZEDEDA was born.
While it is important to have a big vision of your product, it is imperative to make sure that you define a strong minimal viable product (MVP) that in all honesty solves a customer's "hair on fire" problem, and to make sure that that MVP really works well in demo's and proofs of concept. As you demonstrate solving the customer's most urgent problem, you will build trust and confidence to do more with your product (they will ask for features), which in turn solidifies your product-market fit, and ultimately leads to defining a new product or market category.
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