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The 5 Steps to Product Market Fit with Pablo Srugo of Mistral VC

The 5 Steps to Product Market Fit with Pablo Srugo of Mistral VC

Episode 171

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The journey to Product Market Fit (PMF) and the common pitfalls for first-time founders are abundant, and finding a trusted guide to help you on your startup journey can be just as difficult. Our guest today is Pablo Srugo from Mistral VC. With his roots in co-founding Gymtrack and transitioning to venture capital, Pablo has seen or experienced many of the challenges of being a founder.

In our discussion, Pablo highlights the importance of solving real problems and valuing customer feedback. He also dives into the importance of pivoting for startup survival, sharing real-world examples from his investment career. He wraps up by advising founders on balancing the long-term vision with the immediate quest for PMF, emphasizing the integration of customer feedback and market insights into their strategies.

About Pablo Srugo:
Pablo Srugo is a Partner at Mistral, based in Toronto. Prior to Mistral, Pablo was the co-founder and COO of Gymtrack, a VC-backed startup in the FitTech space. Pablo also co-founded an online tutoring platform, which was acquired in 2014.

He also is the host of The Product Market Fit Show.

(01:20) Pablo discusses his transition from founding a tutoring marketplace and Gymtrack to venture capital at Mistral VC

(04:19) The importance of empathy in venture capital and how his founder experience helps him understand the challenges of reaching milestones like 10K or 50K MRR

(06:26) His time as an Entrepreneur in Residence at Invest Ottawa, noting the common challenge startups face in achieving product market fit due to focusing on less significant problems

(08:56) Choosing the right early customers and focusing on core business values.

(10:57) Pablo’s experience with Gymtrack, discussing the challenges of finding product market fit and how revenue is not the only indicator of success

(13:02) The struggle of gaining significant traction and the realization that their solution was not a top priority for their customer

(23:35) Founder’s responsibility for achieving product market fit with VCs playing a supportive role

(28:12) ADA’s challenges with customer service quality as its user base grew

(30:24) The importance for founders to understand customer pain points and get real-time feedback, rather than delegating key roles too early

(31:07) The balance of patience and urgency in venture capital, especially when a portfolio company is struggling to find product market fit

(33:50) The tendency of founders, especially first-timers, to rush into building products without fully understanding the market or customer needs.

(35:39) Why Minimum Viable Products (MVP) should deliver real value rather than being a half-finished product

(41:16) Pablo shares his love for learning about the origin stories of companies like DuPont and FedEx, and the importance of understanding the journey to product market fit

(42:00) The power of being a resilient “founder cockroach”

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