The Intersection of AI Growth, Product Market Fit, and Innovation

Peter Buck

Hatched by Peter Buck

Jul 30, 2023

4 min read


The Intersection of AI Growth, Product Market Fit, and Innovation


In the fast-paced world of technology, two major trends have emerged in recent years - the exponential growth of artificial intelligence (AI) and the importance of finding product-market fit. While AI has been on a rapid trajectory, its revenue still pales in comparison to the staggering success of smartphones. At the same time, companies striving for product-market fit must navigate unique challenges and prioritize innovation. This article explores the commonalities between these topics, delves into unique insights, and provides actionable advice for entrepreneurs.

AI's High Growth vs. iPhone's Phenomenal Success:

Five years after their introduction, smartphones generated a global market revenue of approximately $330 billion, a figure nearly ten times greater than the projected revenue for generative AI. This stark comparison highlights the immense success and impact of smartphones on the market. While AI is undoubtedly on the rise, it has yet to reach the same level of widespread adoption and revenue generation as smartphones. However, this contrast should not undermine the potential and significance of AI in the long run.

Finding Product Market Fit: The Counterintuitive Secrets:

One of the keys to achieving product-market fit lies in embracing change and identifying unique opportunities within evolving markets and technology frameworks. Without change, there is seldom an opportunity to disrupt existing industries and cater to the needs of customers. Canva, for example, focused on empowering 40 million amateur graphic designers, while Adobe predominantly targeted professionals. This radically different vision allowed Canva to carve its own niche and thrive in a market that was previously underserved.

Another crucial aspect of achieving product-market fit is understanding the "hair on fire" problem faced by customers. This term, coined by investors, refers to a pressing issue that compels customers to seek a solution urgently. Addressing this problem and providing a delightful experience is the key to generating organic growth through word-of-mouth recommendations. On the enterprise side, hitting a sales yield of greater than one with a repeatable playbook indicates a strong product-market fit. This metric ensures that customers are consistently purchasing the product to solve the same set of problems and that the sales team can generate a gross margin that exceeds their costs.

Avoiding Common Mistakes:

Startups often fall into the trap of endlessly tweaking their product instead of focusing on identifying the specific customer they are creating a unique product for. This mistake can lead to wasted time and resources. Prioritizing value creation for a specific customer segment is crucial in achieving product-market fit.

Another common mistake is pursuing growth before establishing value. While growth is essential, it should not come at the expense of delivering a valuable and differentiated product. Companies must strike a balance between scaling rapidly and ensuring that their offering provides tangible benefits to customers.

Lastly, slowing down on innovation can be detrimental to achieving and maintaining product-market fit. Innovation is the lifeblood of any successful company, and failing to continuously improve and adapt can lead to stagnation and loss of market relevance. Companies must foster a culture of innovation and constantly seek ways to stay ahead of the competition.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace change and identify unique opportunities within evolving markets and technology frameworks.
  • 2. Understand the "hair on fire" problem faced by customers and provide a delightful experience to generate organic growth through word-of-mouth.
  • 3. Prioritize value creation for a specific customer segment and avoid the trap of endlessly tweaking the product. Focus on identifying the customer you are creating a unique product for.


As AI continues to grow at an impressive rate, it is essential to recognize that it has not yet achieved the same level of success as smartphones. However, by understanding the counterintuitive secrets of finding product-market fit and avoiding common mistakes, companies can position themselves for long-term success. Embracing change, delivering value, and prioritizing innovation are crucial elements in navigating the dynamic landscape of technology and business. By incorporating these actionable advice, entrepreneurs can increase their chances of creating products that resonate with customers and drive sustainable growth.

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