Ideas and Validation August 11, 2020

Actionable advice to acquire your first 100 sign ups

KP @trulykp

Hi founders/makers,

Most founders struggle with how to acquire their first 100 beta sign-ups for a new idea. I've done it for 2 products in the last few months (one has 2200+ beta sign-ups and the other has 950+) without even launching on ProductHunt or HackerNews.

Here's how I did it:

  1. Start with a waitlist 🔐

A lot of founders make the mistake of directly unveiling their product to public w/o creating any buzz around the launch Never open to a vague general audience. Set up a waitlist & let people opt-in so you have a focused audience.

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  1. Build a viral loop to Twitter 🐦

After people sign up on your waitlist, don't give instant access. Give them a way to share their excitement on Twitter and bring friends to be bumped up to "priority access" to the beta. This step is admittedly high friction but it will clearly show you who's really serious among your audience.

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  1. Make it easy to share 🤝

I always have pre-composed tweets behind most buttons using "Clicktotweet". It's the little things that matter - people love editing the copy and just hitting tweet than thinking from scratch.

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  1. Treat super fans like royalty 😇

The small percentage of super fans who went thru the hoops for you have to be absolutely thanked and recognized. Among your waitlist, these are your most passionate audience. Give them more value, tweet at them, slide into DMs, show love.

  1. Build In Public 🔦

Let people know what you are building way before you have an MVP.

Use a landing page to share your thesis & attract the right users. Make it clean, easy to digest and just high-level.

Note: Here are my essential tips on building effective landing pages:
https://twitter.com/thisiskp_/status/1272875859125448706

  1. Roll out invites in batches 🧵

My playbook is:

  • I share v1 w/ my mastermind group of makers and a handful of founder friends I trust
  • I iterate on their feedback & within a week, launch it to super fans on the waitlist
  • The full waitlist
  • My Twitter
  • IndieHackers or ProductHunt
  1. Build audience each day 😍

I may not be shipping each day but I'm always sharing the story of what I'm building to get people excited --- either in private or public. My default assumption is no one cares about my idea --- it keeps me humble & reminds me to share stories.

  1. Treat beta seriously

A beta launch is as important as a real public launch. I do my best to build community from the 1st user - listen to them, reply to their emails/tweets, understand how they're using the product. Not easy but rewarding because it boosts word of mouth which is the holy grail of marketing.

  1. Use one channel effectively

I share my updates on IndieHackers too but somehow a lot of the users for my projects come from Twitter. http://LetterDrop.io grew to 505 beta ups & Cuppa is 1600+ Find a channel that works for you & stay focused in the early days

These are some lessons I’ve learned from direct experience. Be aware that these are largely relevant for B2C products. I’m not an expert on B2B launches.

Hope this was helpful!

If you loved this piece, please upvote & reply below for questions :)

If you want to learn with me, follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/thisiskp_

Thanks for reading! 🙏🏼

PS: I'm building a new project called "Build In Public" that you might be interested in. Sign up here: https://buildinpublic.xyz/

  1. 7

    I truly enjoyed the article, I thought this is what I should follow next time. But right after checking what you are doing online was a buzz-killer.

    Cuppa - Get early access
    LetterDrop - Get early access
    BuildInPublic - Get on the list.
    AppearedOn - Inaccessible

    Is this what serial-prenuership is.

    1. 2

      Hey anikilic, thanks for sharing your thoughts. Appreciate you reading the article.

      What was the buzz-kill part? Not having access or me shipping multiple side-projects? I am curious.

      1. 5

        Hey, it's like there is no product. Just the ideas poured into landing pages. It's good you are taking your ideas to next level to measure interest. But I expected to see at least one already running project amongst 3. Or IDK just don't market 3 in 1.

        I felt like baited, I think which one gets the most traction will get the your focus and whoever visits those pages are just involuntary testers.

        It just me tho, I like to click links and dig through. I liked the LetterDrop most, since newsletters are hyped these days. But all it requires is a form to submit a newsletter link and a front-end to display not an early access.

        I hope I made it clear.

        1. 3

          I am trying to understand where you are coming from but you seem to be trying to spew judgemental comments without context. So let me add some clarity. These are all LIVE products with hundreds of users and I have built a portfolio of work by gradually shipping and learning from prior attempts. So many products have waitlists for various reasons: Clubhouse, Hey, SuperHuman, and Robinhood are great examples.

          Just because you don't have access doesn't mean, it's NOT a live product ;)

          Ex1: Cuppa is live, see: getcuppa.io/love
          Ex2: Buildinpublic is live, see: https://www.buildinpublic.xyz/interviews/how-a-developer-went-from-no-audience-to-a-life-changing-exit-by-building-in-public
          Ex3: LetterDrop is live (literally today), see: https://twitter.com/thisiskp_/status/1293174165474816002

          It's up to founders and their constraints to decide when to go live to the general public.

          1. 1

            Yeah, sorry about my tone, English is not mother tongue. I know it enough to read documents and follow tutorials. And I often sound as an a*hole because I speak like a 6 yo. Which bothers me too anyways correcting myself, I wanted to see them live with full access. Seeing an e-mail input on each, bothered me. Just me. And that's all.

            Have a great day.

            1. 2

              It's all good - I appreciate you reading the post and visiting my sites :)

  2. 3

    Awesome post. Congrats on sharing something you learned.

    1. 2

      thank you Edmund :)

  3. 2

    Oh man, I love this so much!. I'm getting into the build in public thing. And trying to validate it :) Thank you!

    1. 1

      Thanks Martin, glad it's helpful to you!

  4. 2

    Hi! Great advice 🙌

    I'm looking to do something similar and wondering whether to roll my own landing page or if you generated it from something already out there?

    Similarly, for gathering email addresses are you gathering them into your own database, or using mailchimp or similar? Any tips + tricks for a first timer to get up and running fast here? 😉

    (I'm a software developer, so can always build, but would be great to move faster if possible!)

    1. 2

      Thx Naz. I used Carrd.co for my landing pages which is quite simple/fast already. For emails, I used MailerLite which was pretty good too (after trying out multiple email platforms). Choose what makes it easy for you to ... ship :)

      1. 1

        Nice one, will check it out. Thank you!

  5. 2

    Great insights here @trulykp. A particularly liked the launching phases.

    I would be interested in your approach/experiences on when to drop an idea or pivot throughout the steps above?

    Just got into the waitlist for https://letterdrop.io/ 🙏

  6. 2

    Insightful post KP, thanks for sharing.

  7. 2

    very valuable advice, thanks much for sharing!!

    1. 1

      Thank you Wondarar!

  8. 2

    You're the master at this. I reference your Tweet of launching in stages all the time.

    And a new mantra: "Treat super fans like royalty"

    Thanks KP!

    1. 2

      You're welcome Dru. I've learned a ton from watching you execute in public too :)

  9. 1

    Great post, thanks for the info! I'm interested in how batched releases helped you grow. It makes sense that you could iterate between each batch, which would improve retention each time. Did it help in any other way?

  10. 1

    🔴 Get signup guide

    (saving the post into my profile history)

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