Product/market fit refers to being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market. On Tuesday, March 6, The Vilna Shul hosted a panel discussion that addressed the question, “what happens after product/market fit?” The panel featured locally known innovators, including:
- Brian Halligan, CEO and Co-founder, Hubspot
- Doron Reuveni, CEO and Co-founder, uTest
- Gail Goodman, Chairman and CEO, Constant Contact
- Diane Hessan, CEO of Communispace
- Mike Troiano, Principal, Holland-Mark (Moderator)
Here is a summary of what we learned from the discussion:
- Keep in mind that “admitting your weaknesses can invite great suggestions,” said Hessan.
- In terms of numbers, your goal should be to make the total lifetime revenue of each customer you acquire three times the cost acquisition. “That’s when you know you’re in good shape,” said Halligan. According to Goodman, “how can I optimize cost acquisition?” is the wrong question to ask. “It’s all about scale, and understanding the underlying metrics of your business,” she explained.
It’s important to bring in outsiders every once in awhile to gain a fresh point of view and prevent groupthink.
- Startups really need people who are willing to be “utility players,” said Hessan. It’s important to find people with changing skills. “You have to always look around the table and think, ‘here is my leadership team…who will still be sitting here six months from now?’”
- According to Doron, the hardest and most important thing for a CEO to is trying to figure out who can take it to the next level and who can’t.
- Once you have product/market fit, it is essential that you “stay close to your customer,” said Goodman.
- It’s all about your team. “Start building a leadership team of A-players that you really trust,” said Hessan. “Don’t try to control everything yourself.” Halligan suggests adding a really great outside board member to your team.
- Letting go of individuals who helped build up your company from the beginning but just aren’t taking it to the next level is difficult, so you need to be respectful. The way that you say goodbye matters a lot. According to Goodman, “your culture is more than just employees who are with you; it is also those you send out into the world.” Make sure that those individuals land on their feet because they can become your best brand ambassadors… or your worst. Creating a respectful environment starts wit the CEO.
Overall, we got some pretty useful advice from successful individuals who have “been there, done that.” We strongly encourage young entrepreneurs to put themselves out there and attend some of the many invaluable events offered by the community (most of which are free). There are always interesting people to meet and new things to learn in the world of entrepreneurship.