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Fundamentals of Product-Market Fit (holloway.com)
213 points by SparksZilla on May 21, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 17 comments

Wow, the two founders started awesome guides that I consulted in the past, from https://www.holloway.com/about?section=story:

- Josh Levy: The Open Guide to Amazon Web Services (AWS) (https://github.com/open-guides/og-aws/) and The Art of the Command Line (https://github.com/jlevy/the-art-of-command-line)

- Andy Sparks: Everything You Should Know About CRISPR—And Where to Learn More (https://medium.com/startup-grind/a-primer-on-crispr-and-how-...)

Aw thank you! We're glad you found them helpful.

There is no such thing as a Product-Market Fit. The article is at best marginally useful in thinking about your startup and at worst will take you on a tangent of intellectual mastrubation which can be a completely misguide you on how to think about your startup.

Startups exist in a complex ecosystem of competing forces. This ecosystem changes all the time. Your product and the market are only two of the multiple factors that could influence your startup. Even then, what constitutes your product and how you define your market will also change throughout the course of your startup.

The ideas behind 'product-market' reduce this complexity into an intellectual exercise whose premise that product should fit market for success to happen is too simplistic and inaccurate. Assuming the product-market fit theory and extrapolating to corollary's and model's the kind this article portrays is great for an MBA classroom workshop but little else outside.

PMF is nothing but a framework, a mental model, a bunch of heuristics rather than a magic bullet.

Yes, the ecosystem is constantly changing - but at any given moment in time, you have a specific product targeting a specific market. PMF is a framework to see if you're delivering on your promise to that market in that specific point in time. The corollary to PMF is that the market you've picked is big enough and/or growing.

PMF is not going to save you from external forces (the arrival of the internet in yesteryears or in more contemporary times, the SaaS-ification of everything) happening and neither does it claim to be. That would be an entire different topic ("Innovators Dilemma" - but even then you need to have PMF in the first place to even have that dilemma ;)

The fundamental premise of the framework is that PMF is a discrete event and the journey of a company can be thought of as pre PMF and post PMF. The reality is that most founders will be unable to articulate when and if PMF has been achieved.

A journey of a startup to scale is better categorized as a continuous series of PMF points where the product evolves to target a continuously changing perception of the target market in the eyes of the founders.

Obsessing over PMF as a fundamental metric will limit founders from exploring the true complexity of the ecosystem in which a startup operates in and can often be a stumbling block in optimising for their subjective outcomes.

I must admit, I am partial to your perspective. People have been building successful businesses for centuries without any notion or discussion of "product market fit". What's more, all these observations are written in hindsight like there's some secret sauce you can learn.

But rather than ruminating at length on "PMF", I just prefer saying "if people ain't buying, change what you're selling".

On the other hand, I can see how it's conceptually more relevant to companies taking the route of "raise capital first, get exposure second and figure out profitability later".

Totally agree. If people aren't buying...."

Excited to see this new form of content from Holloway!

If you haven't seen some of their past content you should check out their (free) guide to Equity Compensation: https://www.holloway.com/g/equity-compensation

Disclaimer: I'm working with Holloway on a future guide (to Technical Hiring and Recruiting).

Just took a look at some of their other stuff. Looks like it's high quality and well researched.

Just curious...how did you start working with Holloway? Did you reach out to them or did they find you?

I've known the Holloway team almost since inception, and knew Josh (one of the cofounders) from before that. I had originally cold reached out to him on LinkedIn after I read some stuff he had written on Quora (where I was working at the time), and we got coffee a few times and became friends.

I've been a huge fan of what they're trying to do. It's also a really strong team—they're polymaths in some sort. They had wanted to write about hiring and recruiting (and in fact had already started having conversations about it with some really credible folk), and at some point we just decided I'd help out (I had written some stuff on Quora and Medium but never worked on something of this magnitude).

Anyway that's probably more detail than you wanted :) I'd say reach out from their website (or by emailing contributing@h..y.com), they're pretty approachable (Andy is in these threads too).

I'm getting a deceptive site warning from Chrome. Has the link been compromised?

This is phenomenal.

Thanks! Everything we publish at Holloway is built to be improved over time, so let us know if there's anything we missed so we can make this as helpful of a resource as possible!

What's the revenue model? You guys deserve to be compensated (richly) for the content; it's awesome. I'm just wondering how you folks make money.

What a lovely question. Top of mind for us, too. Our first Guide, on Equity Compensation, is entirely free. Think of it like our public sandbox. For now, we're thinking all future Guides will be available for purchase (one-time payment and you get digital access + updates). The first Guide we'll launch for purchase is The Holloway Guide to Raising Venture Capital (https://www.holloway.com/g/venture-capital/about), which we're hoping to have out in June. This post is an excerpt from that.

We'll also be posting more on our blog, like this post, to build up awareness of what we're up to. Our policy internally is that if we're going to post content to promote one of our products, though, it needs to be helpful to readers on its own. It can't just be content marketing junk to get you to click.

So, fingers crossed. We're making a bet on people being willing to pay for what we're creating!

You guys certainly have product market fit for the free articles (atleast using HN as a proxy) :)

Curious to see if the same reception is there for the paid content, especially given that the topics you cover have a lot of free articles and videos (e.g.: YC has an entire library of it).

Good luck!

How do you decide who is going to collaborate with you?

Is there a specific business model behind the company?

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