Episode 2: Navigating the Challenge of Product Market Fit

Episode 2

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In this episode, Karl and Danielle explore the challenge of product market fit with Bob Handlin. They talk about the difficulties that you can have breaking into an existing market and how you really have to understand the end user’s problems to have a chance. They also talk about the importance of primary research, the say/do gap, and how to best decide what’s important when you have limited resources and runway.

Guest Bios

Bob Handlin’s product management career started at Prominet and then had him move into the Systems Storage Group at Sun Microsystems. He was at Sun during the time that Oracle bought Sun and he continued at Oracle for just over 7 years. After Oracle, he moved on to Red Hat where he is a product manager for Red Hat Enterprise Linux covering in-place upgrades, conversions, and live patching. His breadth of experience on industry leading products makes him a valuable asset to Red Hat and brings a unique perspective on product market fit to the table.

Connect with Bob on LinkedIn!

Key Points

00:00Intro 00:53Episode Intro 02:06That awesome product that doesn’t quite have product market fit 03:38Real world marketing tactics 04:49The startup problem 05:27Digging into the end user perspective 06:0510x faster and can’t close the deal 07:20Understanding the problem first 09:40The cost of implementation versus reward 13:24Understanding why you aren’t achieving PMF and recognising when you’ve hit the sunk cost fallacy 15:41The importance of primary research 16:32The say/do gap 18:35CLI versus GUI 24:51Deciding what’s important and never having enough resources 26:32Tech previews and labs flags 29:40Finding your market with limited runway 32:51On tech being priced for growth 36:42The final question 38:35Episode wrap-up 41:13Outro

Call to Action

Let us know what your takeaways were. What comments made you think? What new thoughts did you have listening to the podcast?


“We think we’re in the business of trying to figure out what to build, but sometimes we’re in the business of trying to figure out what not to build.”

Bob Handlin

“Startups are particularly vulnerable to this because they conceptualize the ten times faster part, but they don’t necessarily understand that they’re coming into a market space where they’re chasing the tail of an entrenched competitor that they have to now unseat.”

Bob Handlin

“It’s not always a better mousetrap. It has to be better in some way that changes the life of the people that have to use it every day. It’s not even good enough sometimes to just be better for the business.”

Bob Handlin

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1 comment
  • the importance of conducting primary research to avoid the “say/do gap”. This means talking to real customers and understanding what they actually do, not just what they say they will do. This is critical for developing a product that people will use and pay for.

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