December 6, 2018

Maximizing my first beta users?

So, I’ve been working on a web app for small product-based maker shops (think Etsy shops) to help them track and manage orders, inventory, and equipment. Though my MVP has a lot of rough edges still I think I’m less than a week out from having it functional enough that I can get it in front of a small group (about 5-10 to start) of very early users. I have a small group already picked out (some are friends and family, and others are friends of friends) but I wanted to get some tips from IH on how to best maximize the value of this early beta period to prepare my app for a proper launch in early 2019? What sorts of questions would you recommend I ask users, what’s the best way to identify pain points or necessary features I completely missed, and how do I manage expectations while the product is in such an early state?

Any advice you guys have from experience would be helpful here!


  1. 3

    Hi Deven,

    some tips which worked for me in the past:

    • Family/friends aren't the best beta users, unless they are perfectly in your target group

    • Try to find people who are exactly in your target group and understand if the problem you are trying to fix is a problem they have or just something similar (e.g. by sharing your idea through Reddit, Facebook Groups etc.)

    • Quality/high engagement is more important than quantity - having 3-5 helpful people which now the industry and have experience with tools of your competitors are unpayable

    • Instead of asking questions, built prototype features (very simple) and share them with the beta group

    • It's best to have 1-2 awesome beta testers in the group who can't wait for the next product update and send you idea after idea (it can be hard to handle them but they add a lot of value)

    1. 1

      Hey, thanks for the feedback!

      Can you expand on why friends/family aren't the best beta users? In this case they are my target group (they run their own Etsy shops) and have a network of others in my target group that will likely be the next group of users.

      I like what you are saying about finding a few, high-quality beta users. I'll try to identify those quickly and focus my efforts with being more hands-on with them.

      What do you mean as far as prototype features instead of questions? You mean just build it and then check for their response?

      Thanks again!

      1. 1

        Sure! Family members/friends are in my experience more engaged with your tool than Mr. X who has never heard of you before. In contrast to X, who only comes back and uses your tool if he finds it useful, they will simply do you the favor and use it. This sounds good, but can result in very wrong conclusions from your side.

        Exactly - I have often seen people either saying "good idea" or "I don't know" on the idea stage, while doing the direct opposite as soon as the feature is in their hands. I would say that feedback at the idea stage will be good or bad depending on your sales pitch skills, which does not help you much at a later stage.

  2. 2

    I agree that you should find broader audience than friends and family definitely.

    Focus on doing as much demos as you can and figuring out where are the pain points of using your products. Listen and watch (screenshare) how your users are using your product and features and what you should improve. Also, tell users about pricing and watch their reactions.

    Retention and activation rates are the most important metrics you need to track and improve constantly.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your thoughts on this! I like the idea of screensharing for the users I can't get "side-by-side" with. Any advice on the best way to do that? Will a simple Skype/FaceTime call suffice in your opinion?

      1. 1

        Yes, Skype and G Hangouts work fine for me.

        Before you do it, create the Interview script that you don't have to follow word by word, but just to have it by yourself as reminder. Take notes somewhere about bugs, pain points and suggestions. And then ask to schedule another meeting after 2-4 weeks just to check if they like the product more after some time.

        Also, keep in mind to not suggest users what to do, but ask them to explain why they did or didn't make, create, press or did some action that is important for app engagement.

        Hope it helps :)

  3. 1

    When you launch a new product, it is important that you get a bunch of early users who are as much super excited about your product as much you are. Because only then, they use the product frequently and tell you what more can be done and how. These are the users who use the product actively are essentially your ideal users.

    TractionMate ( www.tractionmate.com ) searches for and gets to the persons (or businesses) that are in search of a pain point that you are trying to resolve, individually and manually. We strike a conversation with them about the context of their pain point and when relevant, invite them to sign up.

    Let me know if you would like to talk further on this.