Hello to Canada’s SaaS Community,
Product-market fit is a necessary and important milestone in a startup’s early growth, a milestone Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau recently reached with her company, Welbi. Speaking with SAAS NORTH, Elizabeth shared more about the evolving way she measured product-market fit as the company grew.
- When you don’t have many customers, give them all 1:1 attention and leverage best practices like the Sean Ellis test to identify product-market fit.
- As you grow, make sure you’re asking a single question that drives to the core of your business, taking into account user personality and platform goals.
- After you hit product-market fit, measure continuously using customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter (NPS) scores.
Co-Founder/Producer, SAAS NORTH Conference Editor, SAAS NORTH NOW
Welbi has a goal to reduce social isolation in senior care and living facilities. But this noble goal will only come to fruition if senior living facilities workers actually adopt their software—meaning they attain oft-elusive product-market fit (PMF). Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau is fairly confident her company, Welbi, enjoys product-market fit based on a variety of measurements. Speaking with SAAS NORTH, Elizabeth shared the different measurements the company relied on to demonstrate PMF as it 35’xed its customer base.
1. Starting with Sean Ellis
As Welbi got its first few customers, the team gave everyone the 1:1 treatment. Early feedback was positive, but the company needed a way to systematically measure whether they were going in the right direction.
With advice from investors and the need to start somewhere, Elizabeth used the Sean Ellis test, a survey that starts with one simple question: how would you feel if you could no longer use this product? The answers range from Very Disappointed to Somewhat Disappointed, Not Applicable, and Not Disappointed. The general rule is that once 40% of respondents say they would be “Very Disappointed,” you have product-market fit.
“Investors were asking for it,” said Elizabeth. “I think it was mostly, hey, let’s just use what we think is the best and what we’ve read about is the best.”
2. Finding what’s essential to Welbi
Over time, the team iterated on the Sean Ellis test and realized they were really seeking the answer to one question: how essential is Welbi to your business?
“A perfect user would literally use Welbi every single minute of their day,” said Elizabeth. “If they were to use Welbi every minute of their day, it would become essential for their daily work. So this is why we ended up asking that question at the time.”
While this question is similar to the Sean Ellis test of disappointment if the solution no longer existed, Elizabeth and other leaders in the company felt the company needed to start asking questions that were a perfect fit for Welbi rather than simply best practice.
“We’re not in a super techie market,” said Elizabeth. “So we do have different perspectives from our users and we needed to be able to collect it the best way that we could.”
3. Understanding customer satisfaction and net promotion
As the Welbi team grew—namely adding Director of Operations Gabriel Rubio and Product Manager Emily Underwood—Elizabeth wanted more analytical power in the platform. Instead of asking customers whether the platform was essential for them, she along with Gabriel and Emily realized they could measure it.
Welbi has three core functions: onboarding new residents, planning events, and managing events plus taking attendance. Emily and the product team built usage analytics dashboards for each feature so the customer success team at Welbi knows if a customer is leveraging all the features available to them—this made asking the “essential” question redundant.
“Our product understanding and visibility became larger,” said Elizabeth. “We had more access to more data internally as to what was the usage of the platform.”
This is also the point where Elizbeth felt fairly confident the company had achieved early product-market fit, having succeeded on both the Sean Ellis test and the “essential” question. With that in mind, they evolved further to measure customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter scores (NPS).
Customers are given a CSAT survey after onboarding (30, 60, and 90 days), after every interaction with the company (e.g. support ticket), and after every major update to the platform. These surveys are delivered in-platform and if a customer doesn’t respond, it prompts a trigger for customer success to reach out. On the other hand, NPS’ are sent nine months after someone signs up—giving enough time to fix a low score ahead of renewals—and then annually after that.
4. Chasing centralized problems
Elizabeth said the company plans to continue with CSAT and NPS to measure ongoing product-market fit as the platform evolves. However, there’s one other leading indicator that helps them stay on track: how common someone’s problem is.
Like many platforms, Welbi has a feedback mechanism where users can share ideas and make feature requests. When a customer does this, the first thing the Welbi team does is look to see if the request has been made before. Then they assess the problem (and possible solution) against clients of different sizes in their customer base. This, said Elizabeth, ensures not only that the problem is commonly felt but the solution will be widely applicable.
“We’ll include more than one client into the discussion from either a different cohort or a different business case,” said Elizabeth. “And then that way we get perspective from everybody so that that way the fix that is going to come out is going to help everybody and not just this one person.”
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50,000 reasons to keep going
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Welbi was in a handful of communities and trying to identify product-market fit. The platform is projected to be in 350 communities by the end of 2022, said Elizabeth, serving over 50,000 residents. The Welbi team has also grown, on trend to hit over 25 people by the end of the year.
Looking ahead, Elizabeth is looking to build more systems and processes to enable further scale. In particular, she’s looking to remove herself as a bottleneck in operations.
“Now we’re starting to build our sales team and we’re starting to really move away from that founder-led everything,” said Elizabeth.