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What is Product-Market Fit?

The 7 Fit Framework Towards Product-Market Fit:
What is Product-Market Fit?

What is Product-Market Fit (PMF)?


What the heck is this Product-Market Fit that everyone is talking about? Some people took this very useful concept, turned it around, turned it over, emptied it out, and made it into a three-letter abbreviation (PMF) that no one knew exactly what it meant.


Instead of bragging about how we (as the 7 Fit Framework Team) know how to help startups reach PMF, we will try to deep dive into what product-market fit really is and why should startup teams care about it.


At its core, achieving product-market fit (PMF) stands as the pinnacle of success for the startups. It's the elusive moment when a product or service seamlessly aligns with the needs and desires of its target market, transforming it from an innovative concept into a thriving venture. But what exactly is product-market fit, and how do startups successfully navigate through the phases of product-market fit?

what is product market fit?

Product-Market Fit Definition

Product-market fit is the congruence between a product or service and the specific needs and desires of a target market. It's the stage where a product has found its ideal audience, generating enthusiasm, loyalty, and a willingness to pay. 


As for Eric Ries, the product-market fit definition is "The only way to win is to find a market that needs your product so badly that they're willing to pay for it."


Achieving PMF is not merely about product popularity or widespread adoption;

it is about crafting a solution that resonates deeply with a specific group of users, unlocking their pain points and fulfilling their unmet needs.

The concept of product-market fit was popularized by Marc Andreessen, a renowned venture capitalist and co-founder of Netscape Communications and Andreessen Horowitz. Andreessen aptly described PMF as "being in a good market with a product capable of satisfying that market." This concise definition encapsulates the essence of PMF – the alignment between a product's value proposition and the needs of a particular group of users.

Although Product-Market Fit definition may differ for different people, the time it takes to reach product-market fit is usually 1–3 years says Andrew Chen in his book; The Cold Start. SaaS companies like Marketo, Netsuite, Workday, Salesforce, Zendesk, and others have all roughly followed this curve. 

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Significance of Product-Market Fit

For startups, product-market fit is the golden ticket to sustainable growth and long-term success. It's the driving force behind customer acquisition, retention, and advocacy. Without PMF, a product may struggle to gain traction, leading to stunted growth and ultimately, failure.

Why is product-market fit so crucial for startups? The answer lies in its transformative power to propel a startup from a mere idea to a flourishing business. Achieving PMF unleashes a cascade of benefits that drive growth and success:

  • Customer Acquisition: When a product truly resonates with its target market, customers are drawn to it organically, generating a surge in acquisition rates.

  • Customer Retention: Once users experience the value and satisfaction that a PMF product delivers, they become loyal advocates, reducing churn rates and increasing customer lifetime value.

  • Word-of-Mouth Marketing: A product that achieves PMF transforms its users into enthusiastic promoters, spreading positive word-of-mouth and generating organic marketing buzz.

  • Business Model Validation: PMF validates a startup's business model, proving that its product or service has a viable market and a sustainable path to profitability.

  • Investor Confidence: Achieving PMF instills confidence in investors, attracting funding and fueling further growth and expansion.

why is product-market fit (pmf) important?


Product-Market Fit Framework


While there's no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving product-market fit, frameworks can provide valuable guidance to startups.

The 7 Fits Framework that we created provides a structured approach to achieving product-market fit (PMF) by dividing the journey into two stages: Pre-Launch and Post-Launch.


In the Pre-Launch phase, inspired by the Design Thinking methodology, startups focus on validating their value propositions through problem-solution fit, customer development, and creating a minimum viable product (MVP). The three fits in this phase are Customer-Problem Fit, Problem-Solution Fit, and Customer-Solution Fit.

In the Post-Launch phase, startups aim to achieve PMF by aligning their product with market demands. This involves refining their product-channel fit, channel-model fit, model-market fit, and ultimately achieving product-market fit. The four fits in this phase are Product-Channel Fit, Channel-Model Fit, Model-Market Fit, and Product-Market Fit.

The 7 Fits Framework provides a comprehensive guide for startups to navigate the path to PMF, ensuring that their products align with customer needs and market demands.

The 7 FITS: Product-Market Fit Framework
The 7 Fits Framework Towards Product-Market Fit: 3 pre-launch and 4 post-launch fits

Product-Market Fit Metrics

Product-Market Fit definition is closely related with how success is defined for a startup. Thus, the best way to measure product-market fit is to first agree on the metrics that positively correlate with the success of a startup.


Although every business model, industry and startup is unique, there maybe some universal key metrics to consider:

  1. Customer Satisfaction: Feedback surveys, NPS scores, and customer reviews provide insights into user satisfaction levels.

  2. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): Tracking CAC helps determine the efficiency of customer acquisition efforts.

  3. Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV): CLTV measures the long-term value of a customer, indicating their loyalty and engagement.

  4. Retention Rate: Retention rate measures how well a company retains existing customers.

  5. Net Promoter Score (NPS): NPS measures customer loyalty and advocacy, providing a valuable indication of product-market fit.

How to Determine Product-Market Fit?

Determining product-market fit (PMF) is an ongoing process that requires continuous evaluation and adaptation. Startups should actively seek feedback from customers, analyze usage data, and monitor key metrics to assess their progress. Here are some specific steps that startups can take to determine product-market fit:

1. Conduct Customer Interviews and Surveys

Regularly conduct customer interviews and surveys to gather feedback on their satisfaction levels, pain points, and unmet needs. This direct feedback can provide valuable insights into whether the product is truly addressing the problems of its target audience.

2. Analyze Usage Data

Track key metrics such as active user numbers, engagement levels, and feature usage patterns to identify trends and patterns in user behavior. This data can reveal areas where the product is resonating with users and areas where it may need improvement.

3. Monitor Key Metrics

Pay close attention to key metrics such as Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), retention rate, and Net Promoter Score (NPS). These metrics can provide a holistic view of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and overall product performance.

4. A/B Testing

Experiment with different product features, messaging, and pricing strategies through A/B testing to determine which variations resonate best with customers. This data-driven approach can help refine the product and improve its overall fit with the target market.

5. Analyze Customer Reviews

Pay attention to customer reviews on app stores, social media, and review platforms. These reviews can provide candid feedback on the product's strengths and weaknesses, offering valuable insights into how customers perceive the product's value proposition.

6. Track Customer Engagement

Monitor customer engagement metrics such as time spent on the product, frequency of use, and feature adoption rates. High engagement indicates that customers are finding value in the product and are actively using it to solve their problems.

7. Measure Customer Advocacy

Track customer advocacy metrics such as word-of-mouth referrals, social media mentions, and positive online reviews. These metrics indicate that customers are not only satisfied with the product but are also actively promoting it to others, a strong sign of product-market fit.

8. Seek Feedback from Experts

Engage with industry experts, mentors, and advisors to gain their perspectives on the product and its potential fit in the market. Their insights can provide valuable guidance and help identify areas for improvement.

9. Monitor Industry Trends

Stay abreast of industry trends, emerging technologies, and changing customer needs to ensure that the product remains relevant and competitive in the evolving market landscape.

10. Continuously Adapt and Iterate

Product-market fit is not a one-time achievement; it is an ongoing process that requires continuous adaptation and iteration. Startups should embrace a culture of experimentation and feedback, constantly refining the product to maintain its fit with the target market.

In addition to these methods, you can also check out the 7 FITS AI tool that we created specifically to help startups determine where they are in their journey towards Product-Market Fit. The 7 FITS AI tool is an AI powered startup sales automation tool enriched with the 7 FIT's proprietary product-market fit survey.

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Signs of Product-Market Fit

Several indicators suggest that a product may have achieved product-market fit:

  1. Organic Customer Growth: Customers are actively discovering and using the product without extensive marketing efforts.

  2. High Customer Retention: Customers are sticking with the product and not churning at a high rate.

  3. Positive Customer Feedback: Customers are providing positive feedback and recommending the product to others.

  4. Willingness to Pay: Customers are willing to pay a premium for the product, indicating its perceived value.

  5. Organic Brand Advocacy: Customers are actively promoting the product through word-of-mouth and online reviews.

signs of product-market fit

Product-Market Fit Stages

In our 7 FITS Framework, we divide the journey to product-market fit into two stages:

Pre-launch phase:

The main objective at this product-market fit stage is to create customer value. The product is still in development, and the startup is focused on refining the product and validating its solution.

7 FITS Framework's 3 pre-launch fits – customer-problem fit, problem-solution fit, and customer-solution fit – help startups assess their product's viability and identify areas for improvement.

  • Customer-problem fit emphasizes understanding customer pain points and developing a product that addresses them.

  • Problem-solution fit focuses on creating a unique value proposition and ensuring the product solves problems better than competitors.

  • Customer-solution fit involves validating the product idea through feedback from the target audience.

By addressing these pre-launch fits, startups can increase their chances of achieving product-market fit and setting themselves up for long-term success.

Customer problem Fit a.k.a Idea Validation

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Post-launch phase:


The main objective at this product-market fit stage is to create business value and search for a repeatable and scalable business model.


The 4 Post-Launch Fits in the 7-Fit Framework are crucial for startups to achieve a solid business model.

  • Product-Channel Fit emphasizes finding the right channel to reach the target audience. To achieve product-channel fit, identify your target audience, explore different channels, and optimize your messaging.

  • Channel-Model Fit focuses on aligning the revenue model with the distribution channel. For channel-model fit, identify revenue streams, analyze channels, and experiment and iterate.

  • Model-Market Fit ensures that the revenue model and target market are compatible. For model-market fit, begin by estimating how much of your target market you can possibly acquire, what should be your average revenue per user, and of course your market size.

  • Product-Market Fit validates that the product meets customer needs and delivers value. For product-market fit, listen to customers, iterate and improve, and focus on retention..


Achieving product-market fit is usually indicated by a double-digit annual growth rate with 70% attributable to a single distribution channel.


Trying to understand your startup's maturity level in terms of Product-Market Fit?

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Advocates of Product-Market Fit in the Lean Startup World

The concept of product-market fit (PMF) has been championed by numerous influential figures in the lean startup world (from whom we found great inspiration), each contributing their unique perspectives and insights to this crucial aspect of startup success. Here are some prominent advocates of PMF and their contributions to its understanding and application:

1. Eric Ries: The Lean Startup Pioneer Eric Ries, the author of the groundbreaking book "The Lean Startup," is widely recognized as one of the most influential proponents of product-market fit. He introduced the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop, a cornerstone of the lean startup methodology, which emphasizes the importance of continuous learning and adaptation to achieve PMF.

2. Steve Blank: Customer Development Guru Steve Blank, a renowned entrepreneur and educator, has emphasized the role of customer development in achieving product-market fit. He stresses the importance of understanding customer needs and pain points through early interactions, enabling startups to build products that truly resonate with their target market.

3. Marc Andreessen: Silicon Valley Visionary Marc Andreessen, a venture capitalist and co-founder of Netscape Communications and Andreessen Horowitz, is credited with popularizing the term "product-market fit." He succinctly defined PMF as "being in a good market with a product capable of satisfying that market."

4. Andy Rachleff: Customer-Centric Approach Andy Rachleff, co-founder of Wealthfront and Benchmark Capital, has emphasized the importance of identifying and validating a compelling value hypothesis early on in the startup journey. He believes that startups should focus on finding a cohort of customers who truly value what they offer before moving on to growth strategies.

5. Ash Maurya: Running Lean Ash Maurya, author of the book "Running Lean," has developed the "One Page Marketing Canvas" as a tool to help startups clearly define their target market, value proposition, and channels. This framework guides startups in aligning their product with the specific needs and aspirations of their customers.

6. Sean Ellis: Marketing Guru Sean Ellis, a marketing expert and early employee of Dropbox, has coined the phrase "product-market fit pyramid," a visual representation of the factors that contribute to achieving PMF. This framework emphasizes the importance of aligning product features with customer needs and ensuring that the product delivers a truly differentiated value proposition.

7. Dan Olsen: Agile Innovation Dan Olsen, author of the book "The Lean Product Playbook," has highlighted the role of agile innovation in achieving product-market fit. He advocates for a process of continuous experimentation and learning, enabling startups to refine their products based on real-time customer feedback.

8. Teresa Torres: Product-Led Growth Teresa Torres, author of the book "Continuous Product Improvement," has championed the concept of product-led growth (PLG), an approach that emphasizes the use of product metrics to measure and optimize the user experience. PLG aligns product development with customer needs, driving PMF and sustainable growth.

9. Brian Balfour: The product-market fit definition of Brian Balfour - Founder/CEO of Reforge and previously VP Growth @ HubSpot and the father of the 4 Fits Growth Model - is rather an analytical one. He says, “Plot the percentage of active users over time for various cohorts to create a retention curve. If it flattens off at some point, you have probably found product-market fit for some market or audience.” 

These advocates, along with numerous others, have played a pivotal role in shaping the understanding of product-market fit and its significance for startups. Their contributions have helped startups navigate the path to PMF, fostering innovation, and driving the success of countless ventures.


Product-Market Fit Surveys: 

The essence of the Product-Market Fit Survey lies in its ability to tap into the unfiltered voices of customers, providing direct feedback on their experiences, pain points, and unmet needs. By posing carefully crafted questions, startups can uncover valuable insights that would otherwise remain hidden, enabling them to refine their product and enhance its alignment with customer expectations.

At the heart of the Product-Market Fit Survey lies a crucial question: "How would you feel if you could no longer use [this product]?" The responses to this question, ranging from "very disappointed" to "not disappointed (it isn't really that useful)," provide a clear indication of the product's perceived value and its ability to address customer needs.

A well-structured Product-Market Fit Survey should delve beyond this core question, exploring various aspects of the customer experience, including:

  • Ease of use: How easy is it to use the product or service? Does it have an intuitive interface and clear navigation?

  • Problem-solving: Does the product effectively address the customer's pain points and solve their problems?

  • Value proposition: Does the product provide a clear and compelling value proposition that resonates with the customer's needs?

  • Differentiation: Does the product stand out from competitors? Does it offer unique features or benefits that make it the preferred choice?

  • Willingness to pay: Are customers willing to pay for the product or service? What price range would they consider fair?

  • Loyalty: Would customers recommend the product to others? Are they likely to continue using it in the future?

By collecting and analyzing data from these questions, startups can gain a comprehensive understanding of their product's strengths and weaknesses, identifying areas where it excels and areas where it falls short. This information proves invaluable in guiding product development decisions and ensuring that the product continues to evolve in alignment with customer needs.

However, the Product-Market Fit Survey should not be viewed as a one-time exercise; it should be conducted regularly throughout the product lifecycle to monitor changes in customer sentiment and adapt accordingly. As the product evolves and market dynamics shift, it is crucial to maintain a continuous feedback loop with customers, ensuring that the product remains relevant and compelling.

The Product-Market Fit Survey serves as a bridge between startups and their target customers, providing a platform for open dialogue and mutual understanding. By actively listening to their customers' voices, startups can unlock the secrets to PMF, paving the way for sustainable growth and long-term success.

What is the Product-Market Fit Pyramid? 

product market fit pyramid

The Product-Market Fit Pyramid is a hierarchical model that represents the five essential components that contribute to achieving PMF:

  1. Target Customer: The foundation of the pyramid lies in identifying and understanding the specific target customer segment that the product is designed to serve. Deeply understanding the demographics, needs, pain points, and behaviors of this target audience is crucial for developing a product that truly resonates with them.

  2. Underserved Needs: Once the target customer is defined, the next step is to uncover their underserved needs. These are the unmet wants, frustrations, and pain points that the target customer experiences in their current solutions. Identifying these underserved needs provides the opportunity for the product to fill a void in the market and offer a unique value proposition.

  3. Value Proposition: The value proposition articulates how the product addresses the underserved needs of the target customer. It is the statement that clearly explains why the customer should choose this product over alternatives. A compelling value proposition should be specific, differentiated, and relevant to the target audience.

  4. Feature Set: The feature set encompasses the specific functionalities and capabilities that the product offers to fulfill the value proposition. These features should be carefully selected to address the underserved needs of the target customer while avoiding unnecessary complexity or bloat.

  5. User Experience (UX): The user experience encompasses the overall interaction and emotional connection that users have with the product. It involves factors such as ease of use, design aesthetics, accessibility, and overall user satisfaction. A positive UX enhances the value proposition and encourages continued usage.

The Product-Market Fit Pyramid provides a structured approach for startups to evaluate their progress towards PMF. By assessing each layer of the pyramid, startups can identify areas where they need to focus their efforts and make informed decisions to improve their product's fit with the target market.

The pyramid also highlights the importance of a customer-centric approach. Understanding the target customer's needs, pain points, and aspirations should be the driving force behind every product development decision. By prioritizing the customer experience and addressing their underserved needs, startups can increase their chances of achieving PMF.

Achieving product-market fit is not a one-time event; it is an ongoing journey of continuous improvement and adaptation. As the market evolves, customer needs change, and technologies advance, startups need to remain agile and responsive to maintain their PMF. Regular customer feedback, data analysis, and market research are essential tools for identifying areas where the product can be refined and enhanced.


The Product-Market Fit Pyramid serves as a valuable roadmap for startups, guiding them through the process of understanding their target customers, defining a compelling value proposition, and developing a product that truly resonates with their needs. By following the framework and embracing a customer-centric approach, startups can increase their chances of achieving PMF, unlocking the path to sustainable growth and long-term success.

The Wrap-Up
What is Product-Market Fit?

We hope this article serves as an introduction to Product-Market Fit and gauges your interest to explore more resources on the concept of PMF.

As you have guessed by now, Product-market fit is kind of the Holy Grail for startups, marking the transition from a fledgling idea to a successful venture. By understanding the concept of PMF, applying relevant frameworks, and monitoring key metrics, startups can increase their chances of achieving PMF and navigating the path to sustainable growth.

We see the pursuit of product-market fit as a journey, not a destination. It is an iterative process that requires continuous evaluation, adaptation, and refinement. If you are a startup co-founder, a solo-founder or a team member of an early-stage startup, to achieve PMF, you must embrace a culture of experimentation and feedback, constantly seeking insights from customers, analyzing usage data, and monitoring key metrics to assess their progress towards PMF.

Achieving product-market fit is not a guarantee of eternal success; markets evolve, customer needs change, and new competitors emerge. However, by establishing a strong foundation of PMF, startups equip themselves with the agility and adaptability to navigate the ever-changing landscape, weather challenges, and emerge as enduring leaders in their respective industries.

As the startup landscape continues to evolve, product-market fit remains the cornerstone of innovation and success, empowering startups to transform their ideas into thriving businesses. Join us while we build the necessary AI tools to help startups reach product-market fit. 

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