Understanding the Journey from Fermat's Last Theorem to Product/Market Fit


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 15, 2023

3 min read


Understanding the Journey from Fermat's Last Theorem to Product/Market Fit


In the world of mathematics and business, there are two seemingly unrelated concepts that share a common thread: Fermat's Last Theorem and the quest for product/market fit. Both have captivated the minds of scholars and entrepreneurs for centuries, and both offer valuable lessons about perseverance, measurement, and adaptation. In this article, we will explore the fascinating story of Fermat's Last Theorem and its connection to the framework for achieving product/market fit, as shared by Rahul Vohra in his interview with First Round Review.

Fermat's Last Theorem:

In 1637, the French mathematician Pierre de Fermat made a bold claim in the margin of a book. He stated that the equation an + bn = cn had no solutions in positive integers if n is an integer greater than 2. This claim, later known as Fermat's Last Theorem, remained unsolved for over three centuries after his death. Mathematicians from all over the world attempted to prove or disprove this theorem, but it was not until 1994 that Andrew Wiles finally cracked the code and provided a proof. The journey to solve Fermat's Last Theorem teaches us the value of persistence, the power of collaboration, and the importance of leaving a legacy.

Product/Market Fit:

In the realm of startups and entrepreneurship, achieving product/market fit is often seen as a holy grail. It is the point at which a product aligns perfectly with its target market, resulting in rapid adoption and customer satisfaction. Rahul Vohra, the CEO of Superhuman, shares his insights on how to measure and improve product/market fit. He emphasizes the significance of identifying the core group of users who would be "very disappointed" if they could no longer use the product. By focusing on this segment, companies can gain valuable insights and make targeted improvements to increase their product/market fit score.

The Parallels:

The parallels between Fermat's Last Theorem and the pursuit of product/market fit are not immediately apparent. However, upon closer examination, we can draw intriguing connections. Just as Fermat's claim stood unsolved for centuries, startups often face the challenge of finding the right fit for their product in the market. Both endeavors require resilience, the ability to overcome obstacles, and the willingness to iterate and adapt.

Lessons Learned:

  • 1. Persistence and Collaboration: Fermat's Last Theorem teaches us the power of persistence and collaboration. Mathematicians from different backgrounds and time periods contributed to the eventual proof of the theorem. In the startup world, founders and teams must persistently iterate and collaborate with customers to find the perfect fit for their product.
  • 2. Measurement and Adaptation: Rahul Vohra's framework for product/market fit emphasizes the importance of measurement and adaptation. By surveying users and analyzing their responses, companies can identify common themes and pain points. This data can then be used to prioritize improvements and address the needs of different user segments.
  • 3. Half & Half Approach: Vohra's advice to spend half the time doubling down on what users love and the other half addressing what holds others back is a valuable lesson for startups. It highlights the need to balance innovation and optimization, ensuring that the product continually meets the evolving needs of the market.


In conclusion, the journey from Fermat's Last Theorem to the pursuit of product/market fit is a testament to the human spirit of exploration, discovery, and adaptation. Whether it is solving an unsolved mathematical puzzle or building a successful startup, the principles of persistence, measurement, and adaptation remain constant. By incorporating these lessons into our own endeavors, we can increase our chances of finding the right fit and making a lasting impact in our respective fields.

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