As an early-stage founder you have one goal: find product-market fit. So how do you do it? There's no playbook. There isn't even a definition of what product-market fit is. In The PMF Show, late-stage founders share real stories from their journey to product-market fit. These are not biographies. They aren't promotional narratives about how companies were built. They’re very specific, detailed stories with real examples you can use.
Hongwei Liu, Founder of MappedIn | How to Find Product Market Fit
Finding product market fit is rarely a straight line. Many founders zig and zag through different iterations of their product, different target markets and competitive positioning until they find true product market fit.
It was no different for Hongwei, the CEO and Founder of MappedIn. He went from building indoor maps for malls, to getting an investment on Dragon's Den, to finally building an 8-figure ARR startup.
In this episode, he shares the main milestones and pivots that took him from a student at Waterloo to the CEO of a company with almost 100 employees. The main lesson? You might start off with a niche, non-scalable idea. But by working with customers you find unique insights you would otherwise never have uncovered.
To win, you have to first be in the game.
Adrian Camara, Founder of Athennian | How to do Customer Discovery
Every founder knows before you launch, you have to build an MVP. They also know that to build an MVP, you should do customer discovery. But few understand how to properly do customer discovery.
Before startup mode, there's research mode. And most founders don't do it right. Failure to do so is why most founders end up solving fake problems. If you want to avoid the fake problem trap, you need to spend a lot more time than you might think on research and customer discovery.
Before launching the product, Adrian spoke to hundreds of paralegals. He hosted in-person focus groups in multiple cities. It was critical to his success and it's how he learned exactly what the problems were and exactly what to build.
If you want to learn how he did it, check out the episode.
Jack Newton (Founder of Clio) | How to Run a Beta Program
If you're selling to businesses, you already know... before you publicly launch your product, you'll have to go through a private beta.
But beta programs are not all made equal. Many founders go through the motion but get very little out of it. Others, like Jack (the founder/CEO of Clio, a $1.5B start-up) leverage it to get the right customers, helpful feedback, and a successful launch.
Who should you let in and how do you get them? How early should you let customers in? When do you know you're ready to launch? Those are a few of the questions Jack answers on the show. If you're going through a beta, this is the episode for you.
How to Raise Your First Round (When You Know No One) | Aman Mann, Founder of Procurify
Raising money seems really easy when you're reading Techcrunch. Then you go out and try to do it and all of a sudden it seems impossible. Especially when you're new to the startup world and know no one.
That's exactly what it was like when Aman, the founder/CEO of Procurify, raised his first round. He describes in vivid details how he flew to San Francisco, slept on the floor of a shared house, cold emailed Mark Cuban and got him to invest. The series of events in this episode are extremely unlikely. They are hard to believe. But they are real.
The reality is that early rounds raised by first-time founders often look like pure luck or serendipity. But you'll notice the hustle, the networking, and the determination that creates these "happy accidents". If you're about to try to raise a pre-seed or seed round, you'll want to check this out.
How to do Customer Discovery | Hanif Joshaghani, Founder of Symend
Before startup mode, there’s research mode.
Many startup stories sound like happy accidents, where founders stumble upon an amazing idea more by chance than by strategy. The reality is the best founders have a deep understanding of the problem they’re solving. They are experts in their industries. They make sure not to invest time and resources into solving fake problems. And they achieve that through customer discovery.
Prior to writing a single line of code, Hanif spoke with 100s of industry experts, employees and potential customers in his industry. He broke down his research into multiple phases. And he didn’t commit to building Symend until he was sure there was a problem worth solving.
If you want to understand how to do customer discovery right, check out this episode.
How to Create a New Market | Cherif Habib, Founder of Dialogue
There are two types of startups: those that sell into existing markets and those that create new markets.
There are ups and downs to both. Selling into an existing market means you have a clear idea of customer needs and market size. It also means you have lots of competition. Creating a new market tends to cost a lot of money and the upside is uncertain. But you get to define the market and potentially capture a strong position in your customer's minds, like Uber or Airbnb.
When Dialogue started, telemedicine wasn't really a thing. At least, it wasn't a thing companies paid for in Canada. Cherif built Dialogue into a public company in just a few years by creating a new market.
In this episode, he shares details of how we crafted the story and sold the product to his first few customers. If you want to learn how to create a new market, check this episode out.
Great topic and tips
This episode was really insightful. Some good, actionable tips from Darryl.
As an early-stage Founder, shows like this provide so much value to me. Pablo does a great job leading conversations with worthwhile and informative guests.
Thank you for this!
A gem of a podcast for Canadian founders
Glad I found this podcasts; as a founder new to the scene I found it valuable to get to know the successful startups in Canada.