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What can Vin Diesel teach us about Product-Market Fit?

It's time to talk about something serious: The Fast and The Furious.

Yep, THAT movie franchise that filmed a scene where Vin Diesel watched someone watch a funeral. Then outran a nuclear submarine that launched a heat seeking missile at his car.

But here's the thing: every single Fast and Furious movie (there are 10) has achieved a gross profit margin of over 50%. And at its height, the franchise increased revenue per movie by 630%.

Check out the franchise's revenue and profitability over time, based on the order of the movie released:

Source: Gross profit calculated as a % of total film production costs, not including post-film marketing and other expenses.

Still making fun of Vin? Didn't think so.

Yes, one of the greatest, most cringeworthy, ridiculous-stunt-pulse-pounding franchises of all time has not only achieved product-market fit but is schooling the rest of the movie industry in how to do it.

How did the franchise get it so right? It understood the product it had: fast-paced, complete suspense of reality action and quippy taglines from international superstars that don't take themselves too seriously. It also understood how its audience changed over time and what its customers wanted.

Specifically: an INTERNATIONAL audience, which now makes up over 70% of the revenue of its releases compared with only 30% back in the early 2000's.

The producers have tapped into international preference across many, many countries and have routinely reinvented the product from its humble days of cop-turned-good-guy-thief to its current iteration of international action thriller where cars fall out of planes and are towed by helicopters around hairpin dirt roads.

The franchise is now so large -- with a brand that is internationally-known -- that it even led the way for franchises like Marvel, Transformers, Star Wars, and Mission: Impossible to follow the same exact model.

Exhibit A: the biggest money maker in recent history, Avengers: Endgame, pulled in an astonishing $2.8 billion at the box office with a gross profit margin of 87% and international sales making up 69% of total revenue.

So the next time you see a commercial for the latest release of The Fast and The Furious (which will undoubtedly continue every two years until the Sun explodes), remember this: you must adapt your product by tweaking it to serve what your customers actually want. And those customers change a lot over time.

The faster you tailor what you create to their needs, the faster you grow.

Just ask Vin.

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