Frederik Van Lierde

Y Combinator Question 15 + How To Answer: Who Is Getting the Most Value Out of Your Product?

This question from Y Combinator helps assess which segment of your customer base benefits the most from your solution. It focuses on identifying the primary beneficiaries of your product, which can provide a clear direction for marketing efforts and product development. Y Combinator Question 15 + How To Answer: Who Is Getting the Most Value Out of Your Product?

1. Why Y Combinator Asks This Question

Y Combinator is interested in this question because it reveals the start-up's understanding of its value proposition and who truly benefits from the product.

Knowing who gets the most value helps in refining product features, targeting marketing strategies, and scaling the business efficiently.

It also indicates the start-up's capacity to focus on and satisfy its most promising customer segment.

2. How to Answer the Question

To effectively answer this, you should pinpoint which particular user or customer segment derives the greatest benefit from your product and why, how the features of your product meet the specific needs of this segment, and how it improves their situation or solves their problems better than other solutions.

Be precise in describing the characteristics of this segment, such as their demographics, behaviours, and motivations.

For example, if your start-up has developed a project management tool, you might identify small to medium-sized tech companies that manage multiple projects simultaneously as getting the most value due to the tool’s ability to streamline communication, automate task allocation, and provide real-time project analytics.

3. How NOT to Answer the Question

Avoid vague or overly broad responses that fail to specify a segment clearly or explain why they benefit more than others.

Don’t just focus on who might want to use the product — highlight who will gain the most measurable benefits.

Avoid making assumptions without data or feedback to support your claims.

4. An Example, Based on a Tech Start-up

Consider a tech start-up, StreamlineEDU, that offers an online learning platform with advanced analytics and adaptive learning paths. Here’s how they might respond:
  • Most Valuable Customer Segment: “The most value from our online learning platform is realized by middle and high school institutions in urban areas. These schools often face challenges with student engagement and differentiated instruction due to diverse student needs and varying levels of academic proficiency.”
  • Why They Benefit Most: “Our platform’s adaptive learning technology allows teachers to automatically tailor lessons based on individual student performance, significantly enhancing engagement and learning outcomes. The advanced analytics provide educators with actionable insights into student progress, helping them identify areas of weakness and strength much quicker than traditional methods.”
  • Supporting Evidence: “Feedback from our pilot programs in several urban schools shows that students’ test scores in math and science improved by an average of 20% over a school year, with teachers reporting higher levels of student engagement and satisfaction.”
Y Combinator needs to understand which customer segment gains the most from a start-up's product, directing sharper focus on market fit and product optimization.