Starting a new business can be both exciting and daunting. One of the biggest challenges new startups face is finding and attracting early adopters. Early adopters are the first users of your product or service who are willing to take a risk and try something new. They are crucial for startups as they provide valuable feedback, help you refine your product, and spread the word to their networks. In this blog post, we will discuss 7 ways how to get early adopters for your startup.
What makes a good early adopter?
A good early adopter is someone who is willing to take a risk and try something new. They are typically tech-savvy and open to experimenting with new products or services. They are also passionate about the problem your startup is solving and are willing to provide feedback to help you improve your product. An early adopter is someone who shares your values and vision for your startup. They can help you reach a wider audience through word-of-mouth marketing.
How do I find early adopters for my startup?
There are many ways to find early adopters for your startup. The key is to identify your target audience and reach out to them through the channels they frequent.
1 - Leverage your existing network
The first and easiest way to find early adopters for your startup is to leverage your existing network. Reach out to friends, family, and acquaintances and ask them to try out your product or service. You can offer them a discount or an incentive in exchange for their feedback. This is a great way to get initial traction and gain valuable insights.
According to this WIRED article, Quora launched in January 2010 with a user base largely composed of D'Angelo's and Cheever's college and high-school friends. This meant there was a lot of early Quora information on the best places to eat in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Cheever was raised. They also built a feature on the site where users could invite people. Soon after, their friends from Facebook were referring people from other startups.
2 - Attend relevant events and meetups
Another way to find early adopters for your startup is to attend relevant events and meetups in your industry or related fields. This is a great opportunity to meet potential users and promote your startup. If you are stuck on where to go, pause and ask yourself: Who is my ideal customer and where do they spend their time?
Tinder and DoorDash went to college campuses to secure their early adopters. Lyft and Uber went to startup offices and transit hubs. Nextdoor contacted HOAs. Etsy went to craft fairs. Airbnb chased large events such as South by Southwest in 2008 and then the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Denver later that same year.
3 - Leverage online communities
Joining online communities related to your industry or niche is a great way to connect with potential early adopters and promote your startup. You can join relevant Facebook groups, Reddit threads, or LinkedIn groups and engage with members. Make sure to provide value and answer questions without being too promotional.
In 2020, our Editor Max Polec worked with a startup that was crafting a video-first dating app in the midst of COVID-19. One of the co-founders was a relationship therapist who had:
- An 80k+ Instagram following
- An online community with hundreds of singles who craved to meet people more intentionally (aka less swiping)
- Close connections with 7 other relationship therapists who had their own respective online communities
They made leveraging online communities the main focus of their go-to-market strategy. This alone secured over 2,000 users in the first 48 hours post-launch.
4 - Get early users through discovery calls
Offering discovery calls to potential early adopters is a great way to better understand their needs and how your product can solve their problems. You can offer 30-minute discovery calls to users who sign up early and use the feedback to improve your product before the official launch.
Discovery calls are essential to learning more about your ideal customer and their pain that you want to solve. You are looking for customers that have their hair on fire. Why? Because they feel the pain of the problem so deeply that they will give any MVP solution a try.
It is important to get early users to provide feedback on your MVP and future iterations of your product. While doing this, get a pulse on your customer's willingness to pay. We suggest starting with these three pricing questions:
- What price would be an easy yes for you to pay for a solution that solves your problem?
- What price would be expensive, but considered for you to pay for a solution that solves your problem?
- What price would be a hard no for you to pay for a solution that solves your problem?
5 - Collaborate with influencers
Partnering with influencers in your industry or niche is a great way to promote your startup to their followers. Influencers have a loyal following and can help you reach a wider audience. Make sure to choose influencers who align with your brand and share your values.
Below is an example of collaborating with influencers from the book: No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier.
The founders picked their first users carefully, courting people who would be good photographers—especially designers who had high Twitter follower counts. Those first users would help set the right artistic tone, creating good content for everyone else to look at. This was essentially the first-ever Instagram influencer campaign, years before that would become a concept.
Dorsey became their best salesman. He was initially shocked to find out his investment money was going toward an entirely different app than Burbn. Usually, founders pivoted to a new product as a last-ditch effort to avoid going out of business. But Dorsey loved Instagram, way more than he’d ever loved Burbn.
When Instagram launched to the public on October 6, 2010, it immediately went viral thanks to shares from people like Dorsey. It reached number one in camera applications in the Apple app store.
6 - Create valuable content
Creating valuable content is a great way to attract potential early adopters to your startup. You can create blog posts, videos, or other content that offers value to your target audience and promotes your startup.
Ben Meer created a massive following of 1.1M+ across Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn in 14 months. He did this by creating valuable content in his newsletter: System Sunday. Ben monetized his content via partnerships and a paid course detailing his creator method for creating valuable content to grow an online following.
7 - Launch on Product Hunt
Launching your startup on Product Hunt is a great way to attract early adopters and get valuable feedback. Product Hunt is a platform where early adopters and tech enthusiasts discover new products and share feedback. Make sure to engage with users in the comments section and collect feedback to improve your product.
Loom got its first 3,000 users from its successful Product Hunt Launch within 24 hours. They then grew to 20,000 users by identifying early champions at organizations. After that, Loom introduced a referral system ($5 in credits for every coworker referred up to $50) to continue scaling.
Launch (again and again)
This article walks through how to get early adopters for your startup. As this talk from Y Combinator shares, the key is to launch again and again. You may have to try several strategies before you find a channel that works for your startup.
If you are looking for help with your go-to-market strategy, fill out our contact form to request a coach. We will match you with someone from our team who will guide you through the process and help you make a detailed 90-day plan.