Increase your startup chances of success with product market fit research

Usability Testing

Nina Juretic · September 7, 2017.

Only a small percentage of startups become financially successful. You think you are that lucky? Increase your chances and do product market fit research.

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One of our clients, a successful entrepreneur had his pet project fail. User count was low and there was no revenue. He hasn’t given up on the app but at the moment it was only a cost. Interestingly, the technology behind this product was top notch. However, the user interface is outdated and it was not intuitive to use. Also, although he didn’t mind, he was surprised by his user base - people whose family lives abroad and deaf-mute people. The app was a video chat with high-quality videos.

These are all ills of a failed product-market fit.

He reached to us to redesign the app but the problem was not only in the user interface, but we also needed to find out first whether there is interest towards this app and what target groups are interested.  In other words, we needed to find the product-market fit.

We used the existing app to show prospect users the concept of the app. Our team consisted of UX and UI designers, the client (CEO of the company) and a marketing expert. The goal was to validate product-market fit before any of the design processes starts. That way we can determine whether there is a business opportunity with the app.

After teams brainstorming and competition research we’ve decided to test a product with three groups of people: couples, lecturers, and business people.

We ran quick overview testing with those groups to see the level of interest. There was little or no interest in couples and business people. First had other (and multiple) platforms that they are used to and the competition is too strong in that field. Second could not fit it into strict business ways of communication. However, among lecturers there presented itself an interest among music lecturers, especially those having online lectures - live and not live.  

App has had great video and sound quality and as it turned out - music lecturers need those qualities since they communicate with their students via video messaging anyway. The issues with the apps they use - quality is not satisfying.

One of the tested individuals started to use the old version of the app with his students almost immediately.

We recruited 6 prospective customers and tested the idea with them either in person or via Skype chat since many of them were living in different countries across Europe or the USA. Also, we did a survey with 12 people to validate the answers we were receiving from the interview individuals.

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It took four weeks to test market fit of the product. In those four weeks, we learned who’s our customer base. That was our first pivot. Our customer base validated many of our ideas but also brought to light new ones. We took in their idea but also dismissed non-valuable elements.

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