In a free flowing conversation, Munjal and Turakhia discussed their approaches to overcome the bias for execution, deciding and validating an idea, evaluating product-market-fit and coming up with products with 10x improvement.
Munjal stressed the importance of trying out many different products - even up to 10 per day - in order to get a first-hand feel of how products work and can be improved.
Turakhia on the other hand suggested an innovative test for evaluating product-market-fit: “find out how many of your users will be very disappointed if your product disappeared from their world tomorrow.”
At the beginning of the session, Munjal and Turakhia briefly touched upon their long-standing relationship, which goes back ten years. According to Turakhia, Munjal had great focus for completing his tasks. Citing an instance, Turakhia said that he was impressed with the fact that Munjal spent his entire holiday working on a project in Mauritius.
This immediately set the ball rolling on the work philosophy of Munjal, who said that he couldn’t help himself. Therefore he consciously aims for Work-Life “harmony” instead of Work-Life “balance”, which he considers overrated. At the end of the session, both the stalwarts of the tech ecosystem provided personal productivity tips and recommended books in response to questions from the audience.
Below I have tried to paraphrase some of the interesting bits from their fascinating conversation.
Overcoming Execution Bias
Munjal: How to overcome execution bias and spend your time doing better planning?
Turakhia: Nowadays, I break it down like this: Spend 30% of your time each on product discovery and measurement, and only the rest (40%) for execution. Building is easy. But it is hard to figure out what to build – so build your muscle there, and your impact will be high.
You should remember that successful products did not become hits because they had 10-20 features. Usually, it is 1-2 high impact features which make your product tick. But it’s not easy to discover what that one thing is. That’s why it’s important to spend a lot of effort on validation.
Deciding And Validating Idea
Turakhia: How do you decide upon an idea and validated?
Munjal: One of the key questions I ask nowadays is does the idea have a leadership-market-fit? As in, will your team enjoy building this? What are you more passionate about? Also, your speed of innovation is directly proportional to your ability to hire leaders.
One practical tip I can share is to experiment with products. Try out a lot of apps – maybe 10 every day! You’ll understand the game better than any book can teach you. But do note that most of your structured learning should come from books. There are some 10-20 standard books which everyone should read.
On B2B SaaS
Munjal: Why have you restricted yourself to B2B SaaS? And why don’t you try building for the consumer Internet?
Turakhia: I have all my knowledge and strengths in B2B SaaS. So this is where I can maximise impact. If a solution I can come up with is only 10/20/30% better than existing products, I don’t feel it’s worth implementing that idea. To me, the improvements have to be in multiples (5x, 10x etc). I’m supremely passionate about making other companies productive. And I feel like I’m compounding my impact by continuing in B2B SaaS.
On Product Market Fit (PMF)
Turakhia: What is PMF according to you?
Munjal: My subjective feeling is that I understood it only when the TestPrep subscription product that I’d built clicked. We started seeing compounding growth month-on-month for the same effort. People will really like the product, and it will be significantly better than the alternatives.
Other learnings I obtained during that period are: Don’t try to build a product first. Try to build a social media traction channel. Put out content consistently. You will realise that you need to start tweaking the SEO also. By then you will begin to understand your audience, and gradually you will find a niche.
Apart from my subjective understanding, the traditional definition of PMF is: Once you find PMF you will start seeing better results for the same effort along 6-7 well known axes: traction channel, brand, product experience etc. And you won’t have to spend lots of money to acquire customers. Also, the users themselves will tell you how much they love your product.
[He recommended two resources for further reading i) 22 Immutable laws of Branding, by Al Ries and Laura Ries ii) The marketing related resources on Intercom.com]
Turakhia: I agree about not building too much before PMF. The largest amount of wastage of investor capital is before PMF. And founder equity dilution also happens because of lack of PMF.
Some objective measures in my opinion are: High retention, High Net Promoter Score (people recommending your product to others) and people willing to pay. There’s also this idea first expressed by the founder of Superhuman [see: How Superhuman Built an Engine to Find Product Market Fit] of finding an audience who would be very disappointed if your product disappeared! Imagine if that percentage is around 30% of your existing user base! Incidentally, this approach will also let you find a product-persona-fit.
Building Products That Are 10x Better
Munjal: How can you force yourself to think about products that can be 10x better? One tip I have given to people who ask me this question is to tell them to take an “Idea Vacation”: Go away somewhere for a few days, just keep thinking and coming up with crazy ideas.
Turakhia: The template I have is: What is the target persona? What is the problem? What is the product and why is it 10x better? What is the Go-to-market strategy?
The persona and the problem need not be figured out in the same order. If you have a problem in mind, talk to people who match that persona, get data to see if they truly have that problem or not. Find out how they’re solving that problem right now. Are these people willing to put their money where their mouth is?
For example, we now go to the extent of creating a simple product pitch page using a service like Unbounce. Then we run Facebook campaigns to drive traffic to that site, even collect their credit card, and tell them it is an early beta and we will get back to you.
One of the steps to use in the discovery process of a 10x better solution is: Is the problem something the person faces often, is the pain it creates sufficiently high enough?
Munjal: I would add, Use a lot of other products – esp those which did 10x better in their particular sector. And see what improvement you could do in your sector. One of the products we used in this manner to get inspired is Peloton.