What's more important ? Product Vs Distribution.

Adrian Cole
18 replies
The age ole debate is back. I've always wondered about this. The thought is if the product is great, users will talk about you and eventually you will grow. However, the startup graveyard is littered with amazing products, no one knew about. So, what's your take on this? Product or Distribution? Which is more important?


Gabe Moronta
It's more of a symbiotic relationship, you need both. First you really do need a good/great product, or something that's on the right path, with good potential. Then you need to be able to get that product in front of people, that takes distribution. Like you said start-up graveyard is littered with amazing products/ideas. The best approach in my opinion is to develop the distribution unique to the product. Step one would be to identify the product's uniqueness and try to see how to take it to the next step.
Adrian Cole
@gabe_moronta I like the part where you mention a unique distribution strategy for the product. Reminds of Zillows Zestimator. A calculator got them all that traffic.
@gabe_moronta Symbiotic relationship is a good way to describe it. It's a lot easier to get widespread distributing if you have an amazing product.
Chris Davis
Distribution > Product Aside from building a path for go-to-market, it’s important to have a market feedback to help you iterate on early product. Also, having an effective distribution strategy necessitates focusing on a particular customer problem which can help make product development simpler.
Mayank Mishra
Distribution always!
I'm not sure I completely agree with all of the people who value distribution over product. You need to nail distribution to get your product in front of the eyes of the masses. But at the same time, if the product is terrible, your retention will be low and your company will eventually die. Therefore, both are important. Which one is more important than the other? It's arguable, but I would say a terrific & unique product can spread it self through word of mouth, so amazing product weighs heavier in my book. Great question @adriancole
Gabe Moronta
@adriancole I agree w/ this, a perfect comparison in my opinion is the music business pre-streaming days. What do I mean? How many artists have a blow up first album, they have the distribution in place through their major label, EMI, BMG, Sony, Columbia, Epic Records, Etc...then their 2nd album is trash, and it doesn't go platinum? It's not cause of the distribution, it's because the product wasn't as good as the first time around. Lou Bega, hit 1st album off the Mambo No. 5 solo, 3x platinum, 2nd album(you didn't know he had a 2nd one did you?) Distribution is only a part of it, you need something to distribute.
Chris Davis
@adriancole @avidnote If we assume any v1 is going to be crappy in some regard, then it means the faster you can reach folks who match your ideal customer profile (and the sooner you can iterate on your ICP to find your early adopter audience), the better. In the early days, distribution isn't about scaling to the masses, but about having the right conversations with the right people. Without that upfront work, then you're right -- when you turn on ads, etc. you will inevitably have a leaky bucket. Folks won't convert because you're not speaking to their needs, and those who don't won't find value in what's been built. To put it another way -- the old adage of "Location, location, location" is still relevant. We've got to make sure we're setting up our product at the right intersection to get foot traffic. And I'd argue that should come first and is more important than product.
Gabe Moronta
@adriancole @avidnote @imchrisdavis this is a very good counterpoint. I like the approach that you took, I was looking at it from a different perspective, but I do have to agree with you on this. While I still believe you need a good/decent product, how will you know its good if its not in front of people. I still feel you need both, but definitely see the validity in your point, thanks for that.
Chris Davis
@adriancole @avidnote @gabe_moronta Re: decent product — most definitely agree. As you point out, it’s a symbiotic relationship and the team must be able to execute.
Anton Ross
Marketing from the first days. The quality of the product is made for living people. Sometimes programmers spend a lot of time on functions that no one needs
James Abayomi Ojo
The best definition i got about distribution was from @corey_haines who described it as Building Trust at Scale. For Solo Founders and Bootstrappers (which most of us are) this is the 2nd cheapest form of marketing. The cheapest is having a great product which your users talk about because it turns them into brand advocates and bonus points for adding virality/share features
Akinori Nakajima
Distribute the product!
Andreas Møller
Whichever one is doing worse
Amanda Trincher
The most ideal option is to find a balance and take both options. There is no point in production if you do not have distribution. I am now creating my own music, and of course, without distribute music on Apple Music or similar services, no one will be able to hear it, which means creating 10 tracks a week without distribution will not bring me fame or money