Product Love Podcast: Rahul Vohra, CEO of Superhuman

Published Jan 22, 2020

This week on Product Love, I talked to Rahul Vohra, the CEO and founder of Superhuman, the fastest email experience ever made.

So what compelled Rahul to get into a space that was already crowded with giants like Gmail and Outlook? During his time at LinkedIn, he ran their email integration. Over time, he developed a very intimate sense of how professionals use email. There are people who literally spend hours of their day clearing out their inboxes. What if you could make an email experience that was extremely fast, where search was instantaneous, and interactions could be done in a few seconds or less? That’s Superhuman. 

We delved into how Superhuman met product-market fit. His previous startup had scaled much faster, finding product-market fit and launching in far less time. This led him to chase product-market fit right away at Superhuman. 

During our chat, we often reference Rahul’s great article on FirstRound, which you can check out hereWe also talked a lot about positioning. Superhuman positioned themselves well from the very start and came up with a statement that fueled a lot of their motivations. It’s one of the underlying frameworks that helped them find the right product-market fit metric.

Want to know more about what “high expectation” customers are? Or what the golden 40% metric is? Listen to the episode above.

Notable Moments

0:37 – An overview of Rahul’s background. 

1:30 – What compelled you to start Superhuman?

3:18 – How did Google drop the ball with Gmail? 

4:11 – Two years into Superhuman, and they still hadn’t launched. It was time for Rahul to start finding a way to measure and improve product-market fit. 

5:00 – Rahul discusses the various definitions of product-market fit he’s heard from other VCs. 

5:24 – Marc Andreesen’s most vivid + compelling definition of product-market fit. 

6:12 – Which PM-fit definition sounds best for Rahul? These definitions are all by the greats, but they have another thing in common — they are lagging indicators. 

6:30 – Rahul started to search for the holy grail. A metric to measure PM-fit, and a methodology to systematically increase PM-fit. Then he discovered a definition by Sean Ellis (who led DropBox, LogMeIn, and EventBrite).

7:04  – Sean Ellis has an amazing survey question that helped Rahul better understand product-market fit. How would you feel if you could no longer use your product?

7:40 – What does Rahul say to people who believe that product-market fit is an artificial gate? 

8:25 – What is it about your product that people love? What holds people back from loving your product?

9:25 – Outline the methodology, gather data, and generate a roadmap for your product.

9:58 – Evangelizing product-market fit within Superhuman. 

11:07 – What’s Rahul’s advice on leading teams during times of unease?

12:55 – Rahul talks about positioning against Gmail and Outlook. 

15:21 – Rahul discusses high expectation customers. 

17:20 – High expectation customers for Dropbox. 

17:40 – High expectation customers for AirBnB. 

18:00 – High expectation customers for Superhuman. 

18:25 –  Is that approach limiting or too narrow? Rahul talks about building a flywheel. 

18:55 – How do you identify high expectation customers? 

20:27 – Rahul talks about NPS. Spoiler alert: He likes them! 

21:32 – Classic mistakes product leaders make with NPS and other metrics. 

22:00 – Should we benchmark scores against industries?

24:45 – Rahul talks about feedback, what to act on, and what to double down on. 

27:55 – It’s critical to understand what holds people back from loving your product. He’ll tell you which kind of customer to disregard feedback from. 

28:48 – We should disregard slightly disappointed users. Instead, focus on users that you can convert. 

32:29 – What advice do you give startups? 

34:31 – What’s Superhuman’s North star metric? Learn how they share this positioning statement with outside vendors and agencies.  

35:30 – Next trend in product management? Game design principles.

38:00 – What’s your favorite product? We nerd out about home stuff here. 

40:34 – Three words to describe yourself.