Founder-Market Fit?

I wrote a post nearly 4 years ago titled Person-Market Fit which has been one of the more popular posts on this blog (I guess it resonates a bit).

Consequently, I’m always on the lookout for similar posts on similar topics within the space of startups and entrepreneurship. And, on the whole, I’m generally not disappointed.

NFX penned a post recently where they attempted to put some of this type of thinking into greater context, even defining 4 characteristics as it relates to what they are calling “Founder-Market Fit”:

  1. Obsession
  2. Founder Story 
  3. Personality
  4. Experience

I wanted to agree with a lot of what they had to say but I found myself disagreeing with most of it, especially since we only know about “worldclass” and “iconic” companies after-the-fact and after much time has passed. In a way, “founder-market fit” is something you could put a label on a founder after they have achieved iconic and worldclass results (per NFX).

The point is that it’s a lagging indicator, at best, and disingenuous, at the worst angle, I suppose.

Obsession, for instance, is conflated with market knowledge and someone’s interest in tackling a problem space (or general curiosity on the whole about whatever) — sometimes you figure out the former while working through the latter but it’s not something that one must have in order to start a company (and succeed).

There are a lot of “first-time” founders who have done fine and who learned to obsess as they learned to build a company, as a part of the process of maturing and growing it.

And then they go on to say this bullshit:

Imagine a company founded by someone in a suit who’s story was nothing more than “I saw a market opportunity.”

Uh… I can think of two dozen friends of mine who saw an opportunity and started their first company and are doing fucking fantastic. They didn’t wear a suit then and they don’t wear a suit now either.

Bottom-line, I don’t agree with NFX’s angle on “founder-market fit” but I do agree that those elements can positively-contribute to the already-miniscule chance of success that every attempt has to survive (and thrive)!

I mean, let’s just say it plainly: Serial entrepreneurs (which is what the article is really describing) are good bets all the time—if that’s “founder-market fit” then I’m okay with that.