Product-founder fit vs product-market fit

Published on Aug 29, 2020

Conventional startup wisdom about product-market fit posits it as a critical success factor for any business, that you need to create a product that the market wants, and solves a painpoint for customers that they will pay for. 

But is it?

I did everything the other way around for Sweet Jam Sites, contrary to conventional wisdom. Fell in love with JAMstack tech, then tried finding a problem for it to solve. Is it any less valid an approach? It certainly does run counter to much of my instincts as a human-centered designer, that for any product, one should always start from user needs first. It makes sense, but I feel it doesn't quite capture the whole context plus nuances of the entrepreneur journey. 

Sure, market demand is important. But just one factor in a complex web of factors that make any business or entrepreneur succeed. Networks, mentors, luck, time, passion, persistence, capital... all are important ingredients to the startup soup. 

I may not have found product-market fit yet for Sweet Jam Sites, but I know for sure that I have product-founder fit, because I really like JAMstack. So even though it’s really challenging right now to get the business to profitability, you can be sure I will persist and keep trying because there’s product-founder fit. Because passion. Because persistence. Entrepreneurship is hard, and without some interest in the subject matter and the motivation to keep going for an extended amount of time, no amount of market demand is going to help. 

Of course, the ideal is you have product-market fit AND product-founder fit.

But is one approach better than the other? I might have said the former is better in the past, but I'm not so sure anymore now. 

Because behind every success story is the slow grind you never heard of or saw. And there's no slow grind without product-founder fit.