@Chris, that sounds really interesting. I am going to check it out, and pass it around to the other folks here at Neo.
@Ryan, in my experience, you really can't know whether you have product-market fit until pretty far along. A landing page is not going to do it. That only tests the value proposition and the channel. There is no ONE hypothesis in your model, but several, and they will continue to come up as you remove other ones. If you look at your Business Model Canvas
, which I know you have because you're a smart guy :) , you need to construct experiments for each of the boxes, and validate your assumptions therein. Do them in the order of highest risk
, I'd suggest.
At Neo, we tend to talk about this in terms of a continuum of gradually reducing uncertainty, through gradually increasing fidelity of experiments.
My default path is typically to validate the customer segment by drawing up some personas (just lightweight sketches and demographics) and seeing if those people exist. If you can establish that, it's time to move on to problem interviews, and then paper prototypes or sketches of your solution. Only at that point, is it time to build a landing page and start testing your value proposition in different channels.
But that's just the beginning. I'd be careful talking about product-market fit until your numbers actually balance out. In other words, you've built a financial model of your product, and you have a pretty clear idea of how many customers you need in order to break even at least. That's based on your funnel metrics (acquisition, activation, retention, referral, and revenue). You need metrics in all those categories to even come close to a clear idea. This would probably be several months into building and delivering something people want. So, you see, it's not a clear threshold at all. It's a gradual reduction of risk.
I have seen startups that are 3 years old, have customers, maybe a couple rounds of funding, and it's not entirely clear that they've nailed it yet. It really depends on industry, but if you look at investors in A and B rounds, they are interested in knowing that if they put money into your company, it's going to accelerate what you already have going on, and not just get burned up. They certainly aren't going to do that if the numbers don't work out (unless there is some insanely compelling narrative that they can't resist; but I wouldn't rely on that).