The importance of user feedback and lessons from Y Combinator

It’s harder to get into Y Combinator than it is to enrol at Stanford or Harvard. Further to that, only 10% of startups survive and only 5% of startups truly scale having graduated from the Y Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley. Most startups fail or become zombie businesses because they don’t find product market fit. Product market fit is where you solved a massive problem, sometimes deemed “The Hair on Fire Problem”.

You’ll know when your startup has found product market fit because there will be queues for your product round the block, a flood of orders will cause your bank balance to grow significantly. At Y Combinator startups are encouraged to get a user growth of 5% per week. Growth of 1% and 2% per week is acceptable but 5% is the goal.

The mentors and partners at Y Commentator encourage startups to build final viable products (MVPs). It’s less about the technology and more about the problem you are trying to solve for customers. Only when you have found product market fit should you start scaling the technology. The problem lots of startups make is they start building the technology too soon and end up having to iterate their software through pivots. There is nothing wrong with pivots but building the technology too soon may lead to a startup running out of cash. If investors have given you some seed funding and you run out of cash, why should they fund you again?

A winning team and a massive market with a significant problem are what you are looking for. Once you have found these you then need to continuously speak to users to get to the product market fit. You can be speaking to users face to face but with global user bases, this won’t always be possible.

Sound Branch now offer developers and software houses the ability to embed in their apps and web based applications an audio record to get the customer’s voice. You will have seen mobile apps and websites’ pop ups which ask you to rate the site and post a review. These reviews are done with text so including the voice gives start ups a new dimension. The voice gives you emotion, sentiment and intent and therefore a richer data set of user feedback to work with.

In conclusion, the more feedback you get and the richer that feedback the more likely your startup is going to become the next unicorn. If you want to reach an IPO and shoot for the stars after you have established a winning team and a large enough market, all that matters is the voice of the customer. Voice feedback allows you to co-create with your customers. It doesn’t mean you’ll be the next unicorn, it just significantly increases your chances. Good luck in trying to find product market fit, you will need patience and perspective.

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