Questions on product market fit based on Marc Andreessen's writings

Hey everyone… I was eager to get your collective feedback on this term I have been reading about, “Product Market Fit.” I first learned of this term after reading Sean Ellis’ articles. However, it is Marc Andreessen, co-founder and General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, a VC firm, which focuses on the tech industry, who once stated the following, which is really what is causing the most confusion for me.

Andreessen stated – “We don’t believe there is a tension between product and business, we believe there is a staging. Which is, in this industry, you don’t have a business until you have a product. In particular, you don’t have a business until you have a product that a lot of people want. We have this concept we call, Product Market Fit, which is basically, you have a product the market wants, and you can tell because the market is pulling the product. And until you have that, time spent building the business around the product, is pointless, because it’s not going to go anywhere. Best case, it’s going to be a zombie*.”

When he states, “you don’t have a business until you have a product…” I think I’m either taking his statement too literally or I am missing something. I recognize this post is getting long, but truly appreciate any insight you all may provide with respect to the following my observations and questions I derived at after hearing Andreessen’s comments – – I feel that by focusing on the product first, the startup is being placed on a much deeper climb to the top. How can it scale and succeed? McDonald’s hamburgers fit many markets, but that doesn’t mean are sustainable in them. Without a team in place, an established company (if for no other reason than tax benefits and insurance policies), how can someone come up with a product? A concept, maybe…but a product? – He even goes on to state, “…until you have a product a lot of people want.”

But, without a team and brand equity, how can you even tell people want it? – The worst thing we can do is try to solve for a problem people don’t think they have. So, what is he stating here? How could people have known they wanted an iPhone until it was invented? He includes, “the market is pulling the product.” If it doesn’t exist…how can this happen? – And how can a product be validated without marketers and analysts who know what (and who) to survey? – As one, final point…pushing a product to market, despite its ease-of-use or how great it is (in theory) at solving for a pain point…without support services, how can a product truly be proven as a success or failure? What I mean is…if I create a great CRM, but I haven’t a clue how to go about sourcing new sales leads…can anyone really quantify that the CRM is a success? *


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