Without Product Market Fit, there’s no knowing which way is up.
Crypto’s heard of Product Market Fit, right?
Well… Apparently not. Not only is it yet to be found, it’s hardly spoken about. As though we’ve forgotten that without adoption, the benefits of decentralisation will likely never be realised.
Let’s take a leaf from the book of Bezos, there’s no doubting his success with realising product market fit. Projects insist on inventing and bagholders persist with patience, but is anyone really putting the customer first?
If crypto is all about ‘power to the people’ then why aren’t people feeling empowered? Does crypto even know who the customer is?
Customer (not crypto) Adoption Curve
Cryptocurrency has a problem with Product Market Fit. The tech has evolved quickly, but in terms of adoption, no-one seems to know which way is up. It’s as though we’ve a blind faith in the old adage “Build it and they will come.”
When in fact, many failed attempts have seen a widening of the gap between the early adopters and early majority. We‘re now met with a chasm separating the crypto converts from the next wave of adoption.
One cannot simply ‘Cross The Chasm’
Plenty before us have taken the leap of faith, a moon shot if you will, only to miss the mark and plummet back to Earth, deep into the chasm.
Those bold enough to know no bounds, find themselves stranded between an echo chamber of early adopters and Yosemite’s El Capitan — Product Market Fit atop, toeing the edge of one of the world’s most challenging ascents.
As the chasm widens, so does the propensity for the echoes to grow louder, engulfing innovators and early adopters with compounding unconscious bias.
Fortunately for some, the so-called chasm is often where unicorns are born.
There’s really TWO markets for crypto (ALL) startups
The first market comprises the risk taking innovators and early adopters. For the sake of simplicity, we can refer to them collectively as the Early Adopter.
The second market is the Early Majority who are known for listening to the opinions of the Early Adopter for their considered, and subsequently predictable actions.
What can be done to overcome the crypto chasm?
Rather than ‘crossing the chasm’ let’s just fill it, with a flood of early adopters and provide the means for the early majority to become one and the same.
Product Market Fit is realised when the Early Adopter is compelled to onboard the Early Majority from a referral/credibility perspective — Slack for example.
Slack created their “email killer” to solve a problem in a way that people LOVE to recommend — every move informed by a key metric: Net Promoter Score.
As hard as it was to convince people to start using it, once they started they almost never stopped — Stewart Butterfield, CEO and Founder of Slack
As we careen toward the digital dystopia of a cashless society, blockchain already has a killer application and presents a unique opportunity to make the chasm a natural feature of its adoption curve. Just as Slack did.
Early Adopters: Crypto users spreading the good word (of mouth)
When we reach the cashless society (hint: it’s close), you can bet your bottom dollar that the world will go looking for a digital equivalent to cash.
The perfect storm’s a’brewing amid pivots to privacy from corporate leaders and the hopeful waning of surveillance capitalism’s future...
Early adopters can now form the cornerstone of cryptocurrency product development with the advent of voting and governance systems. Customers themselves can help optimise learnings and direct teams’ iterations of Minimum Viable Products.
Effective product management and strategy are essential to any endeavour in search of product market fit. There’s not reason for crypto’s open source nature, or baked-in (albeit half-baked) incentive schemes to say otherwise.
We first need to understand the addressable market, the Early Majority, which in crypto’s case is glaringly obvious. While we don’t yet want the Laggards, it’s the users of legacy systems that are caught in the cross-hairs.
Early majority: Fiat folk receptive to a better user experience
There’s no doubting that the Early Majority are incredibly resourceful and they’re all ears. But they don’t care about crypto… They don’t care about decentralisation… They care about themselves.
Sure, one day they might praise the philosophical possibilities, but all that matters right now is attracting them by using success with early adopters, followed by continued iteration toward product market fit.
Despite the looming threat of surveillance capitalism, the cashless society also presents unbounded opportunity to improve user experience.
While we dabble at the bleeding edge of emerging standards in digital payments, we need to set aside our ideals for a moment to focus on what matters now — CUSTOMERS.
Give them something to rave about, or we’re up the creek without a paddle.
Mass adoption is but a belay away…
I’m suggesting a pledge of allegiance, to rally behind those Leading The Product, the individuals willing to pioneer their way to Product Market Fit.
Crypto has become an echo chamber of early adopters, drifting farther from the early majority, as a widening chasm separates us from mass adoption.
Now is the time to quit with the in-fighting and form alliances with Product Managers, UX Designers and your existing communities of Early Adopters.
They’re gonna help crypto climb out of this chasm.
About the author
Joshua Marriage is a co-founder of Privacy Express — a Sydney based Venture Studio focused on accelerating development of privacy enhancing technologies.
Privacy Express is currently developing Pip Wallet in collaboration with Chainsulting, Brainmates, Veil, CloakCoin and a community of champions.
Meet us at Leading The Product 2019.