Growth July 10, 2020

Product-Market Fit is Hard

Perry Raskin @perryraskin

Some people have been mentioning lately that IH mostly has people sharing positive developments, and that there aren't enough shitty occurrences being shared. Because the truth of the matter is this stuff is shitty most of the time for most of us.

I've been working on Pointway for maybe 4 months now? Yeah, it's been mostly development, but I've been trying pretty hard to post updates and stuff here on IH and on HN as well. It's just not so straight forward for beginners like myself. Even with all of the free advice.

Pointway currently has 12 users who don't log in to the app, ever. I just started a blog to potentially help me with SEO. Also because I want Pointway to have an educational aspect to it.

I'm well aware that my main focus right now should likely be finding my target customers. This is a super niche product, though, so it's hard simply because of that. In addition, I'm trying to scratch my own itch, so there are plenty features I want to build out just for myself. But I also want to get feedback before I spend the time.

On one hand I know that people like myself who are credit card "gurus" need something like this, since keeping track of points and stuff is not easy and gets confusing. Spreadsheets aren't great.

On the other hand, I'm sure that others like me have their own system in place and may not want to change it up. So I'm thinking of trying to get this to those who are already interested in becoming more aware of the credit card points game. This way, these users can learn more and grow into "gurus" by using Pointway.

Anyways I know that was long but I thought this kind of post is necessary here. For anyone who feels unmotivated due to crappy outcomes like these, it happens to the best of us! I'm keeping myself motivated and you should too!

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    Where do credit card gurus hang out?

    The biggest problem with IHs today is distribution building product is "easy".

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      Distribution is vital. Not just for product but for content and this is where the 'hustle' is required which many people tend to shy away from.

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      That's the thing, they hang out in forums in the comments pretty much or in Facebook groups. And if I try to post a link to Pointway there it will seem like I'm advertising my stuff and won't be so good.

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        You have to post in a non spammy way.

        On IHs someone will ask about a blogging solution.

        So I will mention Ghost, why WP is bad and how Versoly is a nice simple solution :)

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          agree. I have compiled a list of commonly asked questions and created blogs/articles around it. I keep posting these while I answer in FB. Leads to some traffic (not a hell lot). But idea is I guess to keep showing up.

  2. 1

    this is a real struggle! I wanted to share an episode from the hexdevs podcast. All that's discussed is Product Market Fit with a specialist guest. I found it really helpful, especially because the guest gives real world examples and tips.

    https://podcast.hexdevs.com/episodes/16-finding-product-market-fit-with-kenny-mackenzie

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    I think P-M fit is especially hard when you start with a solution. I don't mean that pointway falls in this category. But this has been my experience. When I think more on the problem I am solving, who does it matter, how to reach them, I received better response.

    Second thing that worked for me is making smallest change in the user's routine. If they are doing A->B->C->D and I make a single insertion/change to this flow, I saw better adoption.

    On a general topic about people not posting failures on IH, I think its not true. I have seen many people posting challenges they are facing and get good response from multiple perspectives. It may be possible that Success stores get more views, which is natural inclination for most creators and OK I think.

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    Hey Perry, thank you for sharing your experience, we def need these to keep our heads up! It seems like the first thing every "free advice" tells us is to "identify and find your audience", but the HOW is the tricky part. I'm totally with you on this. As a starter myself, I do believe UA is a long way to go and we can only go one step at a time especially when we need to do EVERYTHING ourselves. So keep it up and stay motivated!!

    I'm sure you have a lot on your plate, but it seems like "Pointway" is an app but when I visited your website there isn't any CTA to download the app unless I sign up? I thought this extra step was a bit confusing and could turn off users that don't want to sign up until they know what they are signing up for.

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      especially when there is no social proof. CTAs for signup have a trust deficit

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      Thank you for your feedback! It's actually just a web app as of now. So if you sign up, you will be asked to link a credit card account (only Chase is supported at the moment). Once you do that, you will be able to see all of the data in your dashboard!

      I know the landing page could use some work. I think I'm going to add a "features" section and also a section that shows what the step by step process is from sign-up to actually being able to use the app.

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    I transitioned a lot for my service and now trying a new pivot. I guess this is normal.

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    I was recently feeling this way and decided to just take a break from the project I was working on. It can be really hard to find users when you start with a product you're building for yourself. I was building a writing app because I wanted to start writing more. I didn't go find other writers and try to identify what problems they had. I didn't even write a lot yet myself so I had no idea what parts were actually useful to myself as a writer. Having a product with no customers tarnished every interaction I had with people because I just so badly wanted them to use my product. When in reality, I needed to forget the product side of things and go find an actual problem people had.

    It sounds like your situation is not exactly the same because you are already tracking credit card points well. You should focus in on a particular use case that's going to help someone earn some amount of points/money immediately so that they can see the value your product provides. Can they earn those same points/promotion without your product? How much work are you saving them?

    I wrote a few social media posts about my situation and then compiled it all into a blog post about failing to make that writing app successful. If you're interested, you can read it here: https://ruminant.dev/blog/quitting-my-job-and-failing-to-start-a-business

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      Thanks for sharing! Yeah this stuff is tough. Seems that failing helps us get stronger though? good luck with the new project!

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    I think it's also important to have a little perspective.

    Credit card churning is no doubt suffering right now because of Covid-19. Travel and hospitality industries are getting devastated because people are avoiding them. That will fundamentally impact the credit card points and how people evaluate them as well. You may simply be struggling to gain interest because most people aren't focused on credit card points right now.

    But don't get discouraged! There will be greater interest and you'll have an easier time once these industries start to come back. Starting a company from scratch is so hard. We frequently skip over the extreme emotional battle that goes into surviving the period of time when you find product-market fit.

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    Product-Market fit is hard, BUT most don't pay enough attention to Problem-Solution Fit AND Solution-Product Fit. One must really make sure that your solution not only solves the pain, but that the pain is really one that is important an urgent. If they signed up but are not using it much, it hints that the pain was not that big or not that painful or not that important.

    Second, does your solution translation well into the product your created? Often we forget that transforming the conceptual solution into a real product is not matter of fact.

    Give theses a thought. Keep your chin up and keep at it.

    Good luck!
    AskDrBrown

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      Yeah I definitely hear these points. I think I still have a lot to clarify on the landing page especially but also in the app itself. Aiming to keep at it though!

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    This is a good take @perryraskin. It is not easy to acquire new users and customers from scratch.

    I think it is better to frame product market fit as an ideal to continuously work toward.

    Focusing on the ‘market’ allows us to put energy towards figuring out exactly what customers want. The problem the customer is experiencing is the real opportunity. If we can refine our product or service to get as close as possible to solving this problem, we can inch closer and closer towards product market fit.

    It is something I am continuously trying to do with Startup Sanctuary.

    Ultimately, product market fit is a two way street. There is a fine line between understanding exactly what the customer’s problem is and then having the awareness and aptitude to adapt your solution to fit their needs.

    I think product market fit lies somewhere on this fine line and it is a continuous quest to get closer and closer to it.

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      Thanks!! This is interesting. I know I need to focus more on what the problem may be and figure out what features might actually solve those problems.

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    Hey Perry! Don't feel demotivated. Getting to PMF is as difficult as is beautiful. Very few products get there.

    Putting in consistent effort, and compounding your learnings will get you there eventually.

    I love the points and I see where you are coming from. At the same time, I have difficulty understanding the value proposition from your landing page. What exactly are you offering?

    When it comes to customers, maybe checking out sites like this could give you inspiration:

    1. https://www.nerdwallet.com/the-best-credit-cards
    2. https://thepointsguy.com/guide/best-rewards-credit-cards/

    Maybe you could even email them and figure out a collaboration approach?

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      The Points Guy actually plans to release an app this year that does similar stuff 😅 but I actually emailed Dan from Dan's Deals, but I didn't hear back unfortunately :/.
      I know I need to work on the landing page. Maybe comparing other products like AwardWallet and showing some in-app screenshots.

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    Why don’t you send weekly email updates of the users account to them. All from the app of course. Then it’s even handier for them, but there’s a chance they’ll click on a link to your app each week.
    It sounds like a good product idea. From everything I’ve read and am experiencing, Saas does just take a long time to grow.

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      Yeah this is a great idea. Thanks so much!

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    My first instinct when reading about your product was, why does it have to be something you log in to regularly? Why not a weekly email or something like that?

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      Maybe you should try and partner with ThePointsGuy or people like that?

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        The Points Guy actually plans to release an app this year that does similar stuff 😅

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