7 Takeaways from Beyond Product-Market Fit with Oluseye Soyode-Johnson

Nosa Omusi, Monday February 12th 2018

The MEST Incubator Lagos held the fourth edition of its MEST Masterclass series on 30th January. The MEST Masterclass is a monthly event for startups, founders, entrepreneurs, and tech enthusiasts. It allows attendees to take a class given by a reputable subject matter expert who is also an active player in the tech and startup ecosystem.

This Masterclass was led by Oluseye Soyode-Johnson. Soyode-Johnson is a lead partner at the African Technology Foundation and an innovation expert at the Ericsson Innovation Hub. The topic was “Beyond Product-Market Fit: Abundance thinking for the African Entrepreneur”. Here are some key takeaways from the event.

New products must be tailored to global markets

“Whatever you produce in Africa, your customers will benchmark with what they have seen or heard about elsewhere. Your competition is global,” Soyode-Johnson said.

He explained that when trying to achieve Product-Market fit, entrepreneurs must not limit themselves to local standards because the customers are far more exposed and educated than they used to be.

Product-Market Fit must therefore be viewed from a global perspective.

[caption id="attachment_6382" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Some attendees at MEST Incubator Lagos Masterclass IV[/caption]

The success of a product hinges on the team taking it to market

Soyode-Johnson discussed how team formation is a big part of looking for the right fit for your product. “Many products fail in the market simply because the team driving them is not the best fit for the job,” he said. He stated that it was important for entrepreneurs to choose their teams with emphasis on the skill sets required to make the product successful and not just on passion alone.

Define your Product- Market fit

Soyode-Johnson explained that a comprehensive approach must be taken to defining the Product-Market fit of any offering. He listed and discussed a number of steps required:

  • Problem definition

  • Possible solutions

  • Unique value proposition

  • Customer segments

  • Key metrics for success

  • Channels for distribution

  • Cost structure and revenue streams

Make the Connections

“No product is useful unless it makes a connection with its intended customers,” Soyode-Johnson stated. He pointed out that products and services must connect with the customer’s perception of their pains and gains.

He used a value proposition canvas to show how these relationships impact each other. A mastery of this canvas enables entrepreneurs to clearly plan and determine the impact of their products on their chosen customer segment.

Listen to your customers!

Customers often have a clear idea of what products they want. “The problem is that most companies create solutions based on what they assume the customer wants,” Soyode-Johnson said.

He discussed a number of approaches that entrepreneurs can use to determine what their customers needs are. These include:

He explained that when the customer’s input is valued, collected and acted upon, there is more acceptance of the product in the market.

Seek creative and innovative solutions using Blue Ocean Strategies

"Blue Ocean strategies are superior because they favour trend creation and predicting future customer behaviour as opposed to Red Ocean strategies where companies obsess over what is obvious to everyone else,” Soyode-Johnson said. He affirmed that by deploying Blue Ocean Strategies, African entrepreneurs can predict customer needs and design products to meet them long before even the customers are fully conscious of the solutions they require.  This allows for solutions that are truly novel and limits the need for energy-sapping competition with similar companies.

Do not be afraid to quickly adapt solutions when the market requires it

"Blue Ocean Strategies can involve expanding some product attributes to provide more uses for the customer, removing a feature(s) to improve customer experience or just creating a brand new product," Soyode-Johnson stated. A truly innovative entrepreneur needs take cognizance of the ways that products can be designed so that it creates a new market that can be exploited quickly. He gave an example of how  Apple’s iPhone was an example of how making customer experience simpler was able to create a new market. It represented an effective use of Blue Ocean Strategy.

Oluseye Soyode-Johnson ended the masterclass saying, “I have known MEST for a long time and I am delighted that they have now established a presence in Nigeria and are taking the lead in driving knowledge in this ecosystem.”

“It was a great way to connect with other entrepreneurs and I learnt a lot about Blue Ocean Strategies, time well spent.” Funke Aladetoyinbo, Creative Director at Creative Sense noted.

[caption id="attachment_6383" align="aligncenter" width="665"] Oluseye Soyode-Johnson at MEST Incubator Lagos after the Masterclass.[/caption]

MEST Incubator Lagos organizes regular conversations around relevant topics that are aimed at enlightening and educating entrepreneurs navigating the startup landscape. On the 13th of February, we’ll hold our fifth Masterclass titled Strategies for Building An Investable Company. It will be taken by Serial Investor and Entrepreneur, Ike Eze. Click here to sign up!