How to Achieve Product-Market Fit in Indian Startups


Achieving product-market fit means that the products are so perfect that customers become the salespeople, realizing the product’s value. This is likely every business’ ultimate aim—to deliver value to customers and turn them into enthusiastic advocates of the product. 

In this blog, you will learn:

  • What is product-market fit?
  • How can Indian startups achieve product-market fit?
  • What are the challenges specific to the Indian market when it comes to product-market fit?
  • What strategies should product managers adopt to ensure product-market fit in India?
  • What role does market validation play in achieving product-market fit in India?
  • How can product designers tailor their approach to the Indian startup ecosystem?

What is Product-Market Fit?

Marc Andreessen, a renowned startup coach and co-founder of Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, coined the term product-market fit in a 2007 blog post. He defined product-market fit as a stage in the product life cycle where businesses identify a need in the market and build a solution that customers want to buy. 

A great product-market fit example is Slack. The platform was initially used for internal messaging between teams. Soon, they realized that there was a product that could capture an untapped market—business communication. The app soon transitioned into a business communication platform, and after multiple iterations, it eventually achieved its product-market fit. 

Today, the app has more than 18 million daily active users, and 156,000 organizations use it for internal communications. Product-market fit is not always an instant ‘aha’ moment. It is usually a continuous process that leads to efficient products over time. 

How Can Indian Startups Achieve Product-Market Fit?

Achieving product-market fit is a crucial milestone for any startup. It marks the point where the startup has found a baseline to grow from. Here’s how a startup can achieve product-market fit. 

1. Detailed Understanding of the Market and Customers

Market research is critical, especially before a product launch. It helps businesses find exciting market opportunities and understand what’s working for their competitors. Furthermore, market research helps companies understand their target audience’s pain points, needs, and preferences. This enables companies to create a product-market fit that accommodates the demands and preferences of their customers. 

2. Identify Value Proposition

Identifying the value proposition involves defining the unique benefits and advantages a product or service offers customers. It is the reason why customers should choose a particular product over others in the market. 

3. Build Your Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

After identifying the value proposition, startups need to build an MVP. It is a development technique where a new product is introduced into the market with basic features that get the attention and feedback of the users. 

MVP creation helps startups determine if they are heading in the right direction. It helps gather valuable feedback from customers regarding the products’ functionality. 

ALSO READ: What is Minimum Viable Product in Product Management

What are the Challenges of Achieving Product-Market Fit in the Indian Market?

India has different cultures, and each culture has its own sub-culture, language, habits, and practices. This makes it hard for businesses, especially startups with limited budgets, to identify their customers’ needs and preferences. To overcome this challenge, businesses can divide their customer base into different small groups. Each segment must have people with one or more similarities. Companies can test different iterations of the same product concept in each segment and create a product with different functionalities to cater to the needs of all segments. 

What Strategies Should Product Managers Adopt to Ensure Product-Market Fit in India?

1. Identify the Difference Between a Good Market and Product

Finding the right product often means identifying a good market and molding one’s product to suit the needs of that market. Businesses can build the best product that solves multiple pain points for customers, but the product will fail without market support. 

2. Use Customer Feedback to Mold Your Product to Fit the Market

Creating an open line where customers can send their feedback. Start doing this from the beginning; it allows businesses to develop a product that works for the market and is loved by the audience. These early customers are more likely to be invested in the product and provide honest feedback. 

3. Don’t Get Complacent

Attaining the right fit doesn’t always equate to success. So, if one achieves this early on, it’s not the end of the road. Consumer needs and preferences evolve with time; they might like a product today, but that doesn’t mean they will use it for a lifetime. 

A popular instance of complacency can be observed with Skype. In 2020, the demand for user-friendly communication tools soared as remote work and learning surged worldwide. While people were searching for easy-to-use platforms, Zoom swiftly fulfilled this need. As a result, Zoom has become the preferred choice for most people, surpassing Skype.

ALSO WATCH: Product Life Cycle and its Various Stages

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORFm3rr9ZBE

What Role Does Market Validation Play in Achieving Product-Market Fit in India?

Internally, many new product ideas might initially seem viable. However, without subjecting the idea to true testing, such as customer validation interviews, businesses must not make a decision. That’s because even a good idea can fail if it doesn’t achieve this. It is only possible if the customers accept the product. That’s where market validation comes in. It helps startups test their product ideas on a group of target customers and collect feedback on whether the idea is worth pursuing. 

Furthermore, this process generally takes place during the initial stages of this before a significant investment has been made in product development. 

ALSO READ: Product Led Growth: A Case Study For Aspiring Product Managers

How Can Product Designers Tailor Their Approach to the Indian Startup Ecosystem?

Product managers must understand the unique challenges, opportunities, and cultural nuances of the Indian market to tailor their product approach. Additionally, they must also know that India is a diverse and rapidly growing economy, and product designers can take the following factors into account to better adapt their product development approach:

  1. Conduct user research to understand the needs and preferences of the target audience. With this, product managers can create a product that’s accessible and relevant to a wide range of users. 
  2. Price sensitivity is a significant factor in India. Startups that offer products at affordable prices have a better chance of success. Therefore, designers should focus on creating products that are accessible to users across different income levels.
  3. By keeping designs simple and intuitive, product designers can create a product that attracts customers. Moreover, product designers can ensure that the product is inclusive and accessible to users with disabilities. Furthermore, following accessibility guidelines will help reach a broader audience.

ALSO READ: Strategic & Data-driven Product Management

Boost Your Product Design and Management Career  With Emeritus

Emeritus offers product design and management courses from the world’s best universities that teach state-of-the-art product conception, design, and prototyping for both engineering and digital products. These courses also enhance knowledge of customer discovery, functional and visual concepts, design optimization, and MVP creation. 

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