The Unsuspected Danger of Building Good Products

Preston Smalley
Sep 14, 2018 · 5 min read

What makes a good product?

Best-in-market technology? Stellar user reviews? Right time of entry? Each of these factors indicates potential, but in truth, a product could have all three of these items going for it and still tank-it in the market. Just ask any of the 75% of venture-backed companies who fail to return their cash to investors.

The Difference Between Quality and Product-Fit

Focusing too much on quality. Sounds strange, right? But it’s true. In the early stages of building a product, more attention should actually be allocated towards the overall fit of your product within the lives of your users.

The quality of a product is important. And quality does factor into the overall fit of a product. But quality is not everything.

There’s an important difference between the quality of a product and product-fit. “Quality” is how well a product solves a customer issue. “Product-Fit” is a product’s ability to make the customer solve the issue by using your product. And beyond picking your product just once, Larry Page looks for it to pass the “toothbrush test” and be used twice a day.

The original Amazon Echo (2014) looked pretty rough and didn’t have “skills” but sure found Product Fit

Take the Plaxo story for example.

As a division of Comcast, the team at Plaxo was developing a product to solve the issue of Contact List disorganization. At the time I was the GM at Plaxo and working hard with the team on this shiny new product: The Plaxo Personal Assistant. It had premium, automated features. Integrated, cutting-edge database technology (Cassandra). It featured Machine Learning. It was a beautifully-crafted product in a wide-open market. To boot, seemingly every working business professional griped and groaned about the issue of Contact List disorganization, and there we were: proudly holding the answers.

Product Explainer video for Plaxo Personal Assistant
Product Page for Plaxo Personal Assistant (2011)
Lean Startup “Build-Measure-Learn” Process
Team Whiteboard @ Plaxo circa 2011 as we attempted various pivots
Ash Maurya’s Lean Canvas facilitates faster determination of Product-Market-Fit

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Preston Smalley

Written by

Product & Tech Leader for digital TV entertainment, two-sided marketplaces and mobile apps used every day by millions of people. http://www.prestonsmalley.com

Agile Insider

Exclusive and practical insights that enable the agile community to succeed.

Preston Smalley

Written by

Product & Tech Leader for digital TV entertainment, two-sided marketplaces and mobile apps used every day by millions of people. http://www.prestonsmalley.com

Agile Insider

Exclusive and practical insights that enable the agile community to succeed.

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