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Behind the Criteria: Product-Market Fit

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

A good company continuously learns, that is why for product-market fit, we focus less on polish and more on clarity

Most of the companies we will feature at the Yale Africa Startup Review ('YASR') will go through several iterations before they achieve product-market fit (PMF) or in some cases never. YASR’s approach to evaluating PMF is a purely qualitative, subjective process and an evaluation of potential — by design.

We ask our judges to evaluate two simple things: First, is it a good market? In our view, a good market means the local target population in the African country or region considers this to be an important problem. It also means it is (or can be) a big market and that right tail winds and complements on the continent are in place (or will soon be). Secondly, can the company’s product alleviate the pain point in its market? Here, we ask our judges to evaluate a startup’s articulation of the pain point, their value proposition and degree of awareness. We insist that they focus less on polish and more on clarity.

Here’s what we don’t do. We don’t crunch spreadsheets on quantitative metrics like net promoter scores or the myriad of statistical proxies often used. We also don’t focus on specific product launches or interview customers to determine if they are getting value out of a specific company’s product, or if the continent's staple startup media houses like Disrupt Africa or Quartz Africa are giving the company lots of press. We don’t dig into how long a company takes to turn over product sales cycles either. Not to say these are not valid factors evaluate PMF. We simply don’t have this inside information or the means to internally verify them. Neither do we believe we should absolutely have it because depending on the context, such metrics may not actually tell you anything meaningful about PMF.

We are thrilled to share with the world, stories of ingenuity and innovation across the continent and the companies behind them.

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