The descriptions of Product Market Fit all seemed so post hoc, so unactionable…The Product Market Fit definitions I had found were vivid and compelling, but they were lagging indicators — by the time investment bankers are staking out your house, you already have Product Market Fit.


This is a summary of the best PMF engine I have ever seen.  It was written by Superhuman founder and CEO Rahul Vohra in review.firstround.com  I am writing a summary in hopes that you will check out the full article.  


The Anchoring Metric (Sean Ellis test)

Just ask users “how would you feel if you could no longer use the product?” and measure the percent who answer “very disappointed.”

The magic number indicating PMF is 40%.


1. Set up your survey to answer the Sean Ellis test. 

He emailed users a link to a Typeform survey asking the following questions:

  • How would you feel if you could no longer use Superhuman? A) Very disappointed B) Somewhat disappointed C) Not disappointed
  • What type of people do you think would most benefit from Superhuman?
    1. A sneaky way to ask “who are you” without directly asking it
  • What is the main benefit you receive from Superhuman?
  • How can we improve Superhuman for you?
  • Job Title

2. Segment your audience to find supporters and paint a picture of high-expectation customers

  • He turned to Julie Supan’s high-expectation customer framework(HXC) as a tool
    • https://review.firstround.com/what-i-learned-from-developing-branding-for-airbnb-dropbox-and-thumbtack
    • She feels that your best HXC persona is NOT the same as your early adopter. Early adopters may not be vested in the company’s mission.  You MUST find people who are.
    • An HXC should be someone others might look up to, can relate to and aspire to be.
      • NOTE: Use positive language instead of we fixed it language. Example: “join the thousands of users who have learned how to model multiple scenarios in seconds.” VS. “You know how Excel templates are frustrating and slow? We’ll we’ve fixed that.”
    • Looking only at the “Very Disappointed” segment, using the tool, write personas
    • He feels it is more efficient to change the market you are addressing before you try to change what you have built. Once you have determined who that is, focus on feedback from that market.

3. Analyze feedback to convert on-the-fence users into fanatics

  • Why people love the product?
    • Look for trends from your “A” group in survey answers using word cloud. In their case speed and keyboard shortcuts were the top reasons they love the product.
  • What holds people back from loving the product?
    • Split people in your “B” group into 2 categories. Users that had the same reasons as your “A” group and users who do not.  The users who have the same motivations as your “A” group people will be your easiest group to convert into “A” clients.  In this example, they also loved speed and keyboard shortcuts, but there was obviously something holding them back.  What is it? 
    • This is answered by the 4th survey question, how can we improve our product for you?


4. Roadmap your improvements by doubling down on what users love and addressing what holds others back

  • He suggests a 50% / 50% time split between these two objectives, based on Group A feedback and Group B SUB-group feedback.
  • Create the roadmap by creating a chart of most requested features, ranking impact and difficulty (time & cost). Obviously, high impact low-difficulty items get done first.  Low impact high-difficulty items get done last.
  • In this example, the biggest holdup in this “B” subgroup was the lack of a mobile app.
  • To accurately do this, he feels really understanding your persona and having experience is what helps.

5. Track product/market fit over time as your most important metric

  • Create an OKR for your product team where the only key result that matters is the “Very Disappointed” metric.
  • Keep repeating the process above.


Ask your users how they’d feel if they could no longer use your product. The group that answers ‘very disappointed’ will unlock product/market fit.

You can learn more about the email product Superhuman here.  And you can follow Superhuman’s founder Rahul Vohra on Twitter here.

5 steps Product Market Fit cover cogs


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