A Twitter thread by Suhail.
1/ Getting my first 100 customers always felt like a puzzle. The next 1000 seemed unreachable. Besides, how can you get feedback to make the product better w/o users? After many years, we ended up w/ 6,000+ paying customers. It was a grind to get there.😩 Here's what I Iearned...
2/ This 1st lesson comes hard learned for most engineers: get up — away from your monitor—and talk to your users! I know it’s safer & comfortable to just email people but it’s also easier to ignore you. Your first 100 customers are usually acquired as a result of YOU selling.
3/ Find clever ways to find groups of like-minded people. Early on, I wrote an early Twitter script to follow a person’s followers. That person often blogged about the problem we were trying to solve. We found 100s of customers this way that were happy to try our product.
4/ You should put as much energy into the first 3 steps of your product (including your landing page) as you do your entire product after those steps. If people don’t get past step 3, your whole product didn’t matter anyway. It’s easy to get caught up in building the other stuff.
5/ Get involved in communities of people you already know. Often they can easily become your first customers. In our case, we gave our product away to all the @ycombinator companies to get feedback. We had made in-roads with many Facebook app developers & asked them to try it.
6/ Put yourself out there: @justinkan wore a camera on his head live-streaming his life to get distribution for http://Justin.tv . Sal Khan grinded as he narrated & taught the lessons for Khan Academy. Elon went toe-to-toe with rocket scientists publicly before he was one.
7/ Find a niche of customers instead of trying to be something for everyone. FB started w/ elite colleges. SoundCloud started w/ bedroom producers collabing. Airbnb w/ spare bedrooms. It’ll be easier to explain your product making it easier to convince the right early users.
8/ A common mistake people make is that they focus on trying to achieve viral growth early on. Your 1st few versions of the product are probably bad (our 1st versions were terrible!) & you likely lack the retention needed to sustain viral growth. Focus on making early users happy
9/ Get early customers on chat. A few reasons: (1) a great way to get them to follow through on using the product because you can hold their hand & (2) invaluable way to get feedback & troubleshoot their issues to fix later in the product. I did this w/ the first 200+ customers.
10/ Important reading that influenced me: The next feature you make will not make everyone use your entire product. http://andrewchen.co/the-next-feature-fallacy-the-fallacy-that-the-next-new-feature-will-sudd …
11/ Acquiring your first users/customers requires creativity, resourcefulness, and, often, a lot of manual hard work in the early days. There's no silver bullet. Roll up your sleeves & make it happen. Here are some unique stories of how friends of mine did it...
12/ @billclerico at WePay on his first customers: "We were building group payments so we hosted a poker tournament at our house & collected payments only w/ WePay. Then we hosted a barbecue for fraternity treasurers at San Jose State & helped them do their annual dues collection"
13/ @garrytan at Posterous on getting his first users: "The first 100 were just my friends. But for my first 5000, I followed their public blogs & left personal comments for users to let them know I was thankful for them using Posterous. It was like Tom from MySpace except real."
14/ @eshear at http://Twitch.tv on getting the first set of gamers: "Our first conversions for Twitch were from customer interviews where we were trying figure out our product." Ask people how to solve a problem that they deeply want to see solved but don't have the means.
15/ @benrbn at HOUSEPARTY on getting first 1000+ users: “We went to college fraternities/sororities & did a presentation to convince them to dl the app. We targeted 10 of them in Michigan, flew there, & pitched them week by week. That created product iteration machine for 6 mo...
16/ @benrbn at HOUSEPARTY on getting first 1000+ users: "...It kept growing to the first 1M users just through colleges but I believe we directly talked to 10k students over a year."
17/ Finally, while this will be challenging, it's also one of the most valuable moments for you to learn about your customers, fix their problems, & figure out the obstacles you'll face. It's all part of the journey. If you just took off, you'd shortchange your own knowledge. 🍕
In case you missed it, check out my last tweetstorm on what to do during the first 18 mo of starting a company: