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Ask HN: Where and how do you find your early adoptors?
180 points by zhangruinan 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 111 comments
I have been working on my side project (a productivity tool) for the past 5 months. I want to find some beta users for my software. With very limited time and resources, how and where can I find my first 100 beta users?

I've been in your shoes many times. I worked for many months, solving a problem that I thought needed solving, and then sought users to pay for it. All of those attempts never resulted in success. My most current project though, I am doing things differently. I talked to people and listened to what they needed. I saw an opportunity in what they were asking for, so I started building, while letting them use it as soon as it was even a tiny bit functional. I only invested my time building when there was a positive signal that people would pay for it.

I know this probably isn't what you want to hear, and you've probably heard this advice before. I was like that too, and I ignored it. But it really does seem to work.

Good advice and something I wish I would have been told earlier.

I went through a YC Startup School session a while back and there was a session about how to get your first customers - I can’t remember who it was (maybe Seibel?), but he (paraphrasing) answered it with something like “why are you building something if you haven’t talked to your customers”. It’s really stuck with me along with the “build something people want” thing.

> why are you building something if you haven’t talked to your customers

* because it's a secret and you don't want competitors to get advantage

* because customers won't get the idea without a mvp

* because revealing your idea might reduce your impulse

* because customers will ask for all kind of features and change your idea into something else, more practical, like "get a job" instead of dreaming in your great idea

> because it's a secret and you don't want competitors to get advantage

If it's that easy to replicate then what's to stop them from copying you and eating your market share once you've launched?

> because customers won't get the idea without a mvp

If that's true then you have to ask yourself if you're actually solving a problem people have or designing a solution in search of a problem. Which then comes back to the GPs advice about speaking to your customers.

> because revealing your idea might reduce your impulse

I guess that's possible but often I see the reverse: engineers spending forever refining their idea because they're scared to release anything until it's perfect. At least by revealing your idea you're committing to a release early and often model that would see actual users on your platform.

> because customers will ask for all kind of features and change your idea into something else, more practical, like "get a job" instead of dreaming in your great idea

Sorry but I don't really understand the point you're making here.

If you're saying customers will ask for more practical features then surely that's a good thing? The opposite of that problem is spending months building something users don't want nor need. Which again, comes back to the GPs advice about speaking to your customers.

If you're concerned that people will tell you to "get a job" then that could happen regardless of whether you announce your project or not. I don't really see how secrecy would affect the opinions of those kind of narrow minded individuals. Plus why should those comments even matter in the first place when they're clearly not relevant to your task at hand?

+1. I used to take the same position as ffhhj on this and I learned the hard way to talk to customers first before doing anything. I'm not saying that building in stealth mode without talking to customers can't work, I just believe it greatly reduces your chances of success.

Incidentally, I think the equally common advice of "solve a problem that you have yourself" is coming from the same place: you can't solve a problem without understanding your users.

> Incidentally, I think the equally common advice of "solve a problem that you have yourself" is coming from the same place: you can't solve a problem without understanding your users.

So does this mean that it's okay to start developing a product if you yourself have such an (acute) problem even if you don't check for/with external customers first?

Sure, but don‘t expect anyone else having the same problem and as such being prepared to pay for it.

1) Forget about competitors ripping you off. It could happen, but probably won't at the start.

If you're building an SaaS for some company/client that needs, it there's almost 0% chance of them ripping you off. A bank that needs some specialized HR software is not going to start making HR software.

2) It's absolutely reasonable that customers have a hard time grasping abstractions. 'Seeing It' is a huge chunk of the story.

3) It's very valid that 'early users' will pull you in a bunch of different directions - many of them are rabbit holes, not generalizable, poorly thought out.

They will literally ask for things they don't even actually need. It happens all the time customer XYZ demands some feature, then they don't use it.

This is why it usually helps to have faced the problem yourself, you can get to an MVP that has some 'coherence' and then go from there.

> Forget about competitors ripping you off. It could happen, but probably won't at the start.

That was the point I was making. If competition is your concern then the problem is either too simple or your solution doesn't meet the customers requirements.

> If you're building an SaaS for some company/client that needs, it there's almost 0% chance of them ripping you off. A bank that needs some specialized HR software is not going to start making HR software.

Depends on the problem you're solving. Not every problem requires a building a SaaS, for example.

> It's absolutely reasonable that customers have a hard time grasping abstractions. 'Seeing It' is a huge chunk of the story.

I'm sure there are instances where that's true but the problem is if it's hard to grasp then it's harder to sell. This is particularly true when you factor in that spend is usually signed off by non-engineering managers. So if you're building something that is hard to grasp then you better be damn sure that you're solving a problem that is easy to conceptualise as important (like security tooling).

> It's very valid that 'early users' will pull you in a bunch of different directions - many of them are rabbit holes, not generalizable, poorly thought out. They will literally ask for things they don't even actually need. It happens all the time customer XYZ demands some feature, then they don't use it.

Nobody is suggesting you should implement each and every suggestion raised in your market research. However not doing any prior research means you're essentially taking a shot in the dark.

> This is why it usually helps to have faced the problem yourself, you can get to an MVP that has some 'coherence' and then go from there.

It helps but you shouldn't blindly assume your problem is identical to everyone else's. You made an earlier point about early users pulling you in a bunch of different directions, not all of them being well thought out. Well there's nothing stopping you going down your own rabbit hole of poorly thought out assumptions even when you have faced the problem yourself.

" what's to stop them from copying you and eating your market share once you've launched?"

Nothing. So the only defense would be, having a good headstart, by having a working product by the time of release. Just presenting ideas and sketches does not give this edge.

'Everything' is stopping them from copying the idea.

Doing a startup is a huge amount of work. Like the shipping coordinator for the warehouse you're selling into is going to just 'do a startup'? Or the lady who supports customers in the field on dialysis machines is going to go from middle aged customers service support to CEO?

There are other things to worry about.

> Nothing. So the only defense would be, having a good headstart, by having a working product by the time of release. Just presenting ideas and sketches does not give this edge.

Nobody is suggesting you should publicly disclose all your preliminary ideas and sketches. It's more about researching your users problems and having discussions there.

Plus you could argue doing this actually aids in your "headstart" rather than hinders it:

1. You can approach the project with a better understanding of the problem domain and thus can tweak your solution to the captive market (rather than having to repeatedly pivot your product until you chance upon that market).

2. You already have contacts of potential customers before you launch.

Anyone working in secret has to figure those two problems out after they launch.

> because it's a secret and you don't want competitors to get advantage

Talk to your customers about their problems and their needs, not the solution itself. The solution can remain a secret.

> because customers won't get the idea without a mvp

Again, figure out the customers problems first.

> because revealing your idea might reduce your impulse

Don't reveal it until it's ready to be revealed.

> because customers will ask for all kind of features and change your idea into something else, more practical, like "get a job" instead of dreaming in your great idea

If customers are asking for features, then there's your demand right there. Strategise on how you want to address it.

The moment you try to go to market is when you realize that your IPO is probably not happening any time soon.

because, depending on the customers, they do not know the technologies to help them exist, or they mistakenly believe are only available to their big kahuna, deep-pocketed competitors.

For me, the heavy lifting here is being done by you having a network of people that recognize you as the right person to build the thing they need (productivity tool in this instance).

Based on my (limited) experience with startups I would rather have this than a network of funders or great developers or almost anything else you can accumulate before you start.

The people who'll appreciate and tolerate your MVP, are a very small subset of your target market that have serious pains to address and/or substantial gains to be made.

Unless you are solving your own problem, and have pains/gains that strongly match with that small subset you will be struggling on the wrong beachhead. You are likely to solve an aspect of the wider problem but with little chance of getting much further.

If you don't listen to people you'll need to be very lucky with loyal supporters, or a very rare visionary with incredible talent and commitment.

People generally won't or don't reveal their deep pains and needs (gains) until you probe and engage in direct research through conversation.

re: The people who'll appreciate and tolerate your MVP, are a very small subset of your target market that have serious pains to address and/or substantial gains to be made.

I guess the real problem is how to find these small group of potential passionates for your mvp

Relevant subreddits have worked for me. Some posts got to a few thousand upvotes and were shared on Twitter and by some weekly substack newsletters and then picked up by small news sites. Eventually it ended up in a New York Times newsletter and was syndicated to a lot of news sites around the world.

My general takeaway is that popular Reddit posts now fuel a portion of traditional journalism.

Did you run into any issues with the Subreddits having strict rules against selfless promotion?

Not really. I wasn't trying to sell anything, though. I just honestly said that I've been working on this project and it might be of interest to the members and asked for feedback. Asking people to buy your product might be frowned upon though.

I had much less success (few posts in 1000s of upvotes, no news coverage from it) and I was posting to reddit where they allow self promotion. Even though people seem to like my posts, most engaged subredditors saw multiple of my posts and hated it making comments about me spamming - although promo posts were less than 5% of my posts. Moderators were ok with it and I will still do reddit in the future. Read the rules!

Yeah my strategy has been to provide answers to peoples questions in the subreddit if I felt I could provide value. I only ever mention my product if someone is complaining about the pain point our app solves. I also don’t post links and I expect people to Google us after reading about us on Reddit. We spent early efforts on SEO to make sure we dominate the first page of Google for our name so that we don’t have to post links and people can easily find us. After all that, I still got accused of being a spammer and got banned from a few Subreddits by nasty mods lol.

I'm sure he did. That's inevitable. Yet, it shouldn't be a showstopper.

I agree with this. Reddit fills the role Slashdot once did.

Much appreciated!

I've had a lot of success with this!

Run highly targeted advertisements, and specifically include in the advertisement that you are looking for beta test users to talk to - and what kind of users you are looking for.

The most success we had was with LinkedIn Lead Gen forms. We got meetings with about 50 people at $25-$50 a pop. Be very personal and transparent - there are lots of somewhat bored professionals out there who would love nothing more than try out your app and give you feedback.

Another option is to sponsor a professional mixer event in your area. Depending on the event, you might be able to get a 5 minute speaking spot for less than a few hundred bucks.

That's interesting regarding LinkedIn Lead Gen. My market is on LinkedIn but not other social and there's little SEO organic traffic opportunity.

I'd love to learn more about how you set that up. Could you link to some of those Lead Gen posts if they are still available or share some more info about your approach?

I am thinking of this. Do you think this is a good approach to get market validation? Or should I wait till beta to use this method?

As soon as possible.

I cannot recommend The Mom Test enough. Probably the best book about having early conversations with customers.

$25-$50 each? How much is one customer worth?

They're early adopters. Guessing they're worth a lot since you're counting on them.

Normally early adopters are the cheapest. The "shut up and take my money" type that make up the initial marketing channel. So it can be a bad sign to start out with a high customer acquisition cost.

I guess, if you're calling development and startup cost zero.

In this case they're paying more for the feedback/interview than for an additional user

Depends on the industry. In my world (B2B SaaS) we are spending $90 - $300 for every new lead generated. Of course, every new lead doesn't become a customer. We have to spend $3000+ for every account added to our free tier!

That's really expensive! That means you are spending $3,000,000 for 1000 free tier users. May I ask how much does your Saas charge paying customers? I would love to know the potential revenue to justify the expense.

They said it was B2B SaaS. It's easy for the lifetime value of an account to be 100k+ and to have pretty good conversion from free accounts.

Have you had luck with B2C on LinkedIn? I thought it was mostly useful for B2B.

I did LinkedIn mostly for B2B. I think it would work well for B2C if you had a very particular set of clientele (middle aged business professionals). So for OP's post, I think it would be a good fit.

Facebook has a good audience for tech early adopters, but you have to put up with a lot of garbage leads. Nothing quite comes close to the ROI of the LinkedIn Lead Gen form

I'd be interested to chat! Contact in profile, if you're game.

This site documents how several startups did it. https://read.first1000.co/archive

This was a pretty good resource! Thank you for posting it! I've been curious to hear Stripe's path to their first 1000 customers for awhile.

Oh, that's one of the best advice one can find here.

seems pretty exhaustive, I'll read in detail

Find your biggest "competitor". Ideally a community that hacks an existing product to do what your project does. People who are already spending their time and money to do what your project has done.

I got over 1000 users with just some sharing to a small FB group; this was mostly from them sharing the app to their friends as well. We did some paid marketing to the same group and got 3000+ users, about 3% of whom were willing to pay.

If your biggest competitor is already well funded then you might want a niche that's below their radar.

For example, I didn't like Asana because it was too slow and had too many team features I didn't need - I just wanted some checklists that were fast and used keyboard shortcuts. I ended up using Sublime Text plugins do this. Later, Workflowy fit the bill perfectly.

Old school advice but worked really well in my previous startup –(i) conferences and (ii) snow-ball interviewing.

(i) In your case you need to somehow find this high density potential early user in-person gatherings. You can for instance hang out in a non-generic co-working space where you know it is the choice for digital nomads etc. in your city.

(ii) This is somewhat under-rated but you really can crawl the network of people you know ad infinitum. You only need few people you know who are productivity obsessed to start with. And then always ask them "who should I chat for 15 mins. to get feedback on this etc. (I would suggest crafting this ask really well so that it doesn't come off as demanding. Try to genuinely give value at every interaction, that's how I enjoyed the process as a hardcore introvert.). I spoke to about 5-10 people every week and ended up with a decent community of early users in <3 months.

This question boils down to "How do you market something?" Ideally, talk to an experienced marketer who knows the domain. They're going to give you much better advice than randoms on HN (although, HN being what it is, the founder of a successful productivity app company might reply... :) )

More generally, if anyone has an idea for a side project or a startup that they're thinking about at the moment, and they don't have an answer to the question of "What's the route to market for this?" then you should seriously consider answering that before writing a single line of code or designing a single screen. Thousands of amazing startups run out of money and shut down because they couldn't answer this question every year. It's important to figure it out as early as possible. It's the source of all your customers, your feedback from real users, and the life blood of your business - revenue.

Having some marketing experience, I would say that most marketers would not be able to do this. That is, if their experience is working within marketing departments. What you really need is people who have done exactly what OP asks about, and in that role done some tasks that could be classified as marketing. But a lot of marketers have never launched a new tone side project or startup zero to one, so they don't know how to do it.

Modern marketing is unfortunately siloed with a very narrow purview that is not at all close to covering the 4Ps, which is what marketing really should be about.

Found early adopters for https://divjoy.com by tweeting out some screenshots of the private beta to my ~1k or so followers at the time and asking if anyone wanted early access. Also started writing some short blog posts about React.js (related to my product) and tweeted those out as well + cross-promoted from the blog to my product.

You're going to need to get 1000+ people to hit your site to get 100 beta users so just try to get some exposure in any relevant community you can. Asking for advice is a great way to share your product without coming off as too spammy, so I'd update your post with a link to your product ASAP!

There are a couple of books out there.

The first one is The Mom Test[0] which has already been mentioned here. But it's more about customer interviews which you usually do before you even start doing something.

And the second one is Traction[1] written by Gabriel Weinberg founder of DuckDuckGo and Justin Mares. This book is highly relevant for a situation where you already have something and need to find your first customers. The great thing about this book is that it gives you a framework and a finite list of strategies that you can prioritise and execute one by one until you get traction.

0: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mom-Test-customers-business-everyon...

1: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Traction-Startup-Achieve-Explosive-...

Being an early adopter, this is how I "discovered" a few products (step by step)

1. HN or Reddit front page.

2. When I left a comment, no matter how stupid it was OP respnded positively.

3. I looked them up and followed on Twitter.

4. From time to time I will ask them more stupid things (aka advanced feature requests on beta products). Yet, they are consistently kind to me.

5. Because they are good people, I will plug their products whenever I can.


On point 1.

Understand the culture of where you are posting. I saw in a twitter thread where the founder spent several months building a product, even wrote their own programming language for it but when they posted on HN it barely got any votes. Then another HN user just posted the language aspect of the product and it made it to the FP. There is some definite patterns of success in places like HN and reddit.

Making it to FP isn't enough you have to have a discussion surrounding it.

would u mind share the list of reddit community u r current following? 4 ex: r/sideproject, I found people showoff their project demos.

Rough ideas I've played with over the last 18 months of running my business

- Writing content for your (potential) audience

- Hanging out and talking about the topic on reddit/Discord/Slack/HN/Twitter

- Setting my hotspot name to my project's domain name whenever I'm around techies or on long train trips

- Find any and all directories that might list products like yours

- Meetups

- Online ads

- Side projects as marketing (little tools that your audience might use, for free)

- Linkedin, talk to people you've worked with before

> Setting my hotspot name to my project's domain name whenever I'm around techies or on long train trips

Interesting idea! How did you come up with it? Does it work?

I think I was just bored and noticed the list of "X's iPhone" in the list of WiFi networks and thought it'd be easy to get noticed if you put a domain name as the hotspot name.

No idea if it actually works though.

You could use a url shortener to track the traffic. Or register a short version of your domain, redirecting the traffic to a specific landing page.

Same as using different toll free numbers when for different adverts to track performance.

I think every project should have a short version of a domain -- works really well during party conversations ("look it up, just type xyz.tech")

in my case I just tell people to search onlineornot in Google hah

You can also just track traffic by adding a short and unique param to the link you share

How about right here? Post a link, share it with people? Have you done that? What was the feedback?

If it isn't right for the HN audience, you should know who your audience are, and how to find them.

You can't build if you don't know who you are building for, so that should be your starting point.

My experience is that quite a lot of people don't have success with HN even if this is their audience. The thing is - more often than not your post will not get any attention... just because of luck.

Yeah, my experience with HN is very similar - luck 'o the draw. Seems timing of day with particular attention to Pacific time zone in the US is key.

@OP - drop us a link here anyway! I'd love to see your software, and by all means if it solves a problem for me, I'm ALL ABOUT throwing (reasonable) money at you! I'd much rather deal with human beings and small business than $GLOBOCORP_X for my day-to-day needs!

My experience, too. That didn't help, and I do not know what does help. However, there are some things that I will not post them on, such as Facebook (although other people are allowed to post it wherever they want to do, if they want to do, but I will not do it myself). In some cases I find pages that I cannot post to; in one case, after typing in a message, I got an error about my IP address being banned (for something I didn't do), except that the IP address in the error message was not my own (maybe there is some kind of misconfigured proxy).

(Note: In my case, I do not request any money.)

It's a matter of dropping a link. What's the harm. So people don't show up. Maybe they do.

Can it hurt? Maybe you'll get feedback, maybe you'll get nothing.

You need to just get out there and do something. Face your fear. Post a link. See what happens. Start talking to people.

If you think this is the hard part, it isn't. This is probably the easiest thing you are going to do.

I'm there as well and appreciate this post. I'm currently only posting to HN as I build up my content and refine my thinking, so it's fine for now.

yes that is my experience as well. Additionally it will get into some other tangent like if you are providing some online service people will ask about self hosting, if you give them binaries for self-hosting they will ask about source code, if you give source-code they will crib about gpl/agpl etc. :-)

If you want to spend some time to read a book I found https://zerotosold.com to be very helpful.

It talks about how to find a group of people for your product early on and how to iterate from there instead of building it in the dark and then hoping that people will come once it's done and polished.

Productivity adjacent discussions and communities are great places to strike up a conversation and find like-minded people that could benefit from your tool.

Asking how others are currently solving the problem your tool does is a good entryway. You can follow their answer with a suggestion to try your product if it sounds like it could be useful.

For more of a shotgun approach you can post on betalist, reddit /startups Share Your Startup thread, ShowHN, etc.

I posted my MVP to the Mac App Store and had a sale the next day in the… Caribbean… thousands of miles away. Fast forward 4 years and I’m selling my indie electron app across the world.


IndieHackers[0] worked really well for me. I wrote an article that got traction, reaching around 2.5k views, which lead to over 50k people visiting the landing page[1] in the past two months.

From what I've seen, productivity tools go down fairly well over there, so it may potentially be worth checking out.

I will point out that users don't seem to enjoy people who are _only_ there to sell to them, I'd recommend at least participating a little before you post. However, your mileage may vary.

0: https://www.indiehackers.com/

1: https://feetr.io (yes, of course I'm going to shill it)

Let me share my recent story

It took me 176 days to sign up 100 people to https://skilledup.life as Volunteers, which will help them to gain real Experience to improve their career prospects.

I started SkilledUp Life all by myself and went live on 1st Aug 2020. Then hired Mithun in Nov, when I really struggled to get traction.

I was only spending few hours per day on SkilledUp Life back then. Even with a full time employee, we could not get the numbers. Then we started to use our own Volunteers and started to build a team.

We had a simple goal of convincing 1000 people to sign up in the first 12 months. We achieved this task with great difficulty with 24 hours to go. We could not have achieved this without our volunteers. From month 10 to 12, we had a team of about 7 to 8 Volunteers if I recall, from Brazil to Philippines.

Today, we have 7,555 Volunteers from 85 countries. You can subscribe to https://skilledup.life for £30/month. Once subscribed, all talent is free.

You can then build a user acquisition team that could approach your target customers/users one to one to get the 100. Whilst they are working on this, you can add more volunteers to improve your website, write content, SEO, social media marketing, etc.

Your founder journey no longer needs to be as hard as mine was. All the best.

Damn! I thought I blogged about the first 100 volunteers. Seems I only started with 250 https://www.skilledup.life/skilledup-life-signs-up-250th-vol...

You never actually explained getting the 100 people. Just that eventually you hired a user acquisition team

I have a very large network, so I thought I could acquire the first 100 within days. But the truth was different. No one wanted to be a Volunteer. They didn't understand it. I had lot of critics. But slowly we gained. Then we started tapping into our Volunteers, once we worked out the details.

Hard graft I will wager and almost always.

Hey Colin, didn't know you hang out here as well. Sounds like I'm in good company.

how did it go?

We just went past 8,000th Volunteer today

Depends on the product. I found my early adopters within my close network of friends and colleagues and in my neighbourhood. Dont hesitate to reach out and keep in touch , find them wherever you can. One good way to reach out which almost always worked in my case was taking some time out for discussion on your idea and then gently asking them if they can use it and give you some feedback.

I'm going through this challenge right now too. In my case I'm creating content to help improve the skills of Engineering Managers and I'm really stubborn about a few things like needing to ship the entire most-loveable-product (as I imagine it from my armchair) and not the minimum-viable-product (as proven by real customers).

I am a bit lucky to have some product skills to identify the mental biases and traps that I fall into, and some friends help pull me back too. Other commenters have pointed out some of those problems:

- Look for positive signal from real flesh-and-blood customers who will give you real money. I printed out my content and had lunch with former colleagues to pick their brains on the topic. I kept doing small tests to check one single area of the final concept.

- Downscale. Downscale. Downscale. You might conjure up 100s of reasons why you can't dare approach the market with a faint shadow of your final vision but you need to do it to test that you aren't making a huge mistake. They will not love it. You will not make money. But you also will not waste time doubling down on a fantasy. Gumroad is good for this but I'm doing it on Shopify just by reducing my product to 10% of the content and printing 1% of the order quantity I need to make a real profit (so I will lose a few hundred, but I will validate if I should spend a few thousand)

- Figure out how to market. You want to do this because this is a form of your "sales funnel" and how you will actually identify who you want to attract, how to do it, where to go, etc. I'm highly unskilled in this topic but I'm using a book called "The 1‑Page Marketing Plan" which helped me structure a lot of things that I had observed in life and start to build a proper plan in steps that was logical and connected. It's not the best book ever, but it is good enough to get oriented and do something logical.

That actually makes a lot of sense. To be honest just as an idea that also means that "early adopters" could also mean "first customers at a super low price". Probably less people wants to try something untried, yet, then people want to try something super cheap that they actually need. Also then you can go to your real market and not the market of "beta testers" which will not necessarily give you the correct audience. So one way to gain your first 100 people is probably to actually SELL IT, but at an extreme discount to your real future audience. I even offered a lifetime free licence for the first 100 sign-ups who starts using it. (You loose little as they don't necessarily use it later but they do jump to the free business.) I did even had a few friends of mine post it on their Facebook as an "ad". That of course means that the product has to be at least partially viable.

I am EM at a startup. Would love to be the alpha user for your product!!

That's fantastic, please send me an email, brian@statagroup.com .

I'm currently developing an app that I personally want, and I'm having a blast! I got the idea after reading a plethora of negative app store reviews for competitor apps.

I certainly hope others will want to use it and pay for it, but it's liberating not focusing too much on what other people want (or claim they want).

For GetMyMFA I ended up surprising myself seeing that people would discover the product from tech forums and FAQs.

I’d therefore recommend thinking where your users are on the web / what they are searching for and try to join active discussions where your product might be relevant.

PS: I just realized I’m trying to do exactly that in HN right now :D

That's great advice. When I started selling an Outlook add-in a couple decades ago some of the best traction I got was from a website dedicated to providing technical advice to Exchange admins. Go to where users who'd find your product useful congregate.

I built a tool that streams all of Reddit and listens for a set of keywords in discussions related to topics associated with my project. Since those users are already talking about a related subject, my subsequent pitch is often received well, instead of the irrelevant spam you may see elsewhere on Reddit.

It’s worked quite well.

Where do you store the documents?

What documents?

I assumed you were storing the streamed conversations. Maybe not!

I think if you had a link in your profile, you could have probably reached half that number by now. Just look at all the comments!

In my case, most of the early adoption for my products have been through in-person interactions. Both B2B and B2C. I’m not sure what your product is, but to take a gander, I’d probably just ask friends who worked in startup or corporate jobs if I could stop by their office and show off what I was working on. Then I’d probably offer a trial to anyone who showed interest while I was there and offer to extend their trial if they find friends or colleagues who were interested in trying it out themselves. If you have a bit a flywheel effect through that, then you know you’re on to something.

I'm sorry. Could you include a bit less information so we could speculate more wildly?

A few ways.

- I post my projects on SideProjectors - https://www.sideprojectors.com - it's a marketplace for selling side projects, but you can also showcase yours as well.

- I use Newsy - https://newsy.co - and create content aggregators about my topics related to my projects - it gains SEOs and traffic and also finds users to sign up to newsletters and updates. Then I reach out to them.

- I use Tash - https://tash.app - and use my Twitter account to get followers and also get leads.

I believe OP is working on https://www.superusapp.com/ , "A Visual Workspace For All Content and Tools"

It's their only other post on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=zhangruinan

They discuss it at https://medium.superus.space/my-ideal-solution-to-informatio...

What is your product?

First off you need to put it in your profile if it's ready for public view.

Don't wait too long to put up a website.

Describe the features and add a early sign up form to collect email addresses.

Once I have more information, I can give more specific advice.

Here is my website: https://www.superusapp.com/ (WIP), let me knwo what do u think ? and one more question: once u have your website, how to acquire (visitors/potential users) to your website ? maybe twitter with link to your website?

Step 1: have a lot of friends. You can usually spend a little politcal capital to get your first few users/customers by talking to them directly. For products that are targeted towards businesses, you'll need to call up your buddies from previous jobs and talk to them about it. After that, you'll probably need to hire a BDR or an AE to start looking for the next few. For B2C, I am not familiar.

For me, it helped that I develop for a platform like the Google Workspace Marketplace.

That helped me get users from those (many individuals) who regularly browse such websites. In fact, there are others who develop for the mobile apps stores who have reported similar stories; the market looks "ready-made".

In my case, this was enough to give Flookup the initial boost it needed.

Read The Mom Test. It will answer how, where, what, while explaining the tactics in detail.

read it, Mom Test is great!

> With very limited time and resources

Finding your first users should be your #1 priority.

You should not have time for anything else but this.

Otherwise it looks like a hobby and why do you care finding users in the first place?

Product Hunt could get you some traction. If it’s a useful enough idea, you might get to 100, especially if you post right at midnight.

Product Hunt is a scam, which is gamed significantly.

Do not expect any link(s) you post there to see any traction, unless you're friends with "influencers".

Is it really that bad nowadays? I don't spend much time there these days, but I figured there are still some people there who actually look through the listings to find new products. I completely agree that you're not likely to top the daily leaderboard unless you have an influencer or two in your corner, or a very large user base that can upvote your submission.

YouTube can be a great tool for this. Just make some videos about your niche and then post a video asking viewers to participate.

You could pay them to give you their thoughts or own that it is a crowded space and you will likely fail.

Hey @zhangruinan, could you show your product here? I can be your beta user :)

Interested in a solution for viral content? Looking for users for a free trial with my app https://atorable.com

facebook groups work for small niche, reddit or any forums where TA comes together to solve their problems, share etc

If you have read about technology diffusion [0], then you'd know well to target the innovators (who by definition are on the lookout for new things to try) and early adopters (who are actively looking for a novel solution to their fairly common problem as a competitive advantage / differentiator).

ProductHunt, Hacker News, Sub Reddits are great avenues to find those groups. Another avenue is conferences.

> The definition of a market niche. This is one of the most important lessons I learned from reading "Crossing the Chasm." It has a somewhat complicated definition of a niche, but since then I've had a lot of luck just taking the gist, roughly: If you can name a conference attended by a particular group of people, that group is a market niche. If there isn't such a conference, it's almost certainly not a niche. For example, let's say you were making a web site to help people find a lawyer. "People looking for lawyers" is a market segment, right? Wrong. There's no "I'm looking for a lawyer" conference. Lawyers are probably a market segment (although arguably, not all types of lawyers go to the same conferences). But everybody needs a lawyer eventually, and that's not a niche, that's everybody. "Startups who need lawyers" (lots of startups need lawyers and go to the same conferences, eg. StartupWeekend) are a market segment, as are building contractors and organized crime lords. Maybe you can help them find lawyers.

That said, you must definitely not build in a vacuum unless you have a very good intuition for what people want.

> Your competition is whatever customers would do if you didn't exist. Let's say you're making software for producing cool graphs of statistical data. There's already really powerful software that does this, but nobody in your market segment uses it for some reason; maybe it's too hard to use or too expensive. That software is your competitor, right? Wrong! That software is irrelevant. Your customers don't want it, so even if it's competing with you, it's already lost. Your customers are probably using either Microsoft Excel's horrible chart features, or giving up and just not making charts at all. So your competitors are Microsoft and apathy, respectively. Apathy is probably going to be the tougher one. To find your list of competitors, just ask yourself what options your customers think they're choosing between. Ignore everything else.

From: https://apenwarr.ca/log/20111116

Most tech related products these days use Open Source as a means of marketing and generating demand. Innovators and early adopters come flocking to it, at which point their focus should shift to making their position count via carving out a market leadership position (with strong base already established in a narrow enough niche: think Cloudflare and DDoS; Amazon and books; AWS and Compute+Storage; Facebook and colleges; and so on). Also, consumer (marketing) and enterprise (sales) software require very different mode of customer acquisition, unless you can blend both those in (which is easier said than done [1])

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diffusion_of_innovations

[1] https://archive.is/R7jqw (how our free plan stays free, tailscale.com)

See also: https://hbr.org/2016/09/know-your-customers-jobs-to-be-done (know your customers jobs-to-be-done)

Related discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29691811

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