How did you find your first 10 customers?

Hello everyone,

I am building https://gemsnotes.app and looking for 10 people who join my paid pilot through 1-on-1 calls where I explain the prototype.

I have done 20 problem discovery interviews so far with active buyers who already have experience with existing tools. It was very helpful to hear why and how people do what they do from these advanced users.

The problem is that switching costs are too high for them. I can't sell my solution to those same people right now. I tried but it seems not to work. They find value in it but they don't want to move their stuff. In fact, the only commitment I got so far was from a person completely out of the community where I did research. But it's not a repeatable sale. I have a channel problem.

It would be very helpful if you share experiments and tactics that worked for you to get the first 10 customers regardless the business.

Thank you!

  1. 2

    We ended up messaging a couple hundred people who might be interested. You can find more details on: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-we-validated-mylinks-by-cold-messaging-600-ig-influencers-ac5f497e3e

    1. 1

      Great post!!

      We compiled a list of 300 small-to-medium sized influencers who were using Linktree, created profiles for each of them, and asked each influencer if they wanted to use the sample profile.

      If I understood well, you used Instagram as you main channel to find first prospects

      • How long did it take to compile that list?
      • How long did it take the whole process (list + profiles + ask)?

      Thank you!!

      1. 1

        Hey, sorry for the super late response. Like @0x_abrar mentioned, I'm driving from California to Toronto :).

        It took 3-4 hours to compile lists of emails and/or handles. We used a google search query to find people who had linktree in their instagram bios. We scoped to >1000 followers with decent engagement.

        We had a message template that we customized for each person. The entire process of compiling the list and messaging 300 people spanned about 2 days.

      2. 1

        I'll let @rayq answer, but pretty sure he's still on his cross-country trip so might be late into today.

  2. 1

    Based on the scenario that you have described, some of the strategies that have proved to be effective are:

    1. Posting a huge amount of content on Twitter and build genuine relationships with other tweeters.

    2. Sharing your journey on LinkedIn and Twitter - building in public.

    3. Every week, to reach out to a technical audience, interview at least 2 individuals who has recently purchased a product similar to the one you have created. Ask them 4-5 questions about the process and what they're working on right now.

    4. If possible, provide very high discounts - up to 50% and publish that in communities

    5. Networking at events. Throwing a Press Event.

    1. 1

      Thanks Debajit! Just to add more context, right now I don't have a working product. I want to see a little evidence that my solution has real value by finding 10 people who commit to the mock demo with a small amount of money (right now I have 1 person, need 9 more).

      Re: building in public strategy, how long does it take to get some traction in your experience? I see A LOT of people tweeting in the void

      Re: press, right now I am not sure my messages are compelling enough, I am still in validation phase, I am worried that networking and press is premature optimization. If my UVP is not compelling it doesn't stick even if it's seen by a lot of people.

      Have you applied all these strategies for your product? What worked well? Thank you

      1. 1

        If you are trying to validate your idea you can recruit people via targeted paid adverts on YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Or you may choose services like Testing Time or Fieldwork Future to find participants based on specific demographic criteria.

        If you're Building in Public, you're establishing yourself as a distinct brand that values honesty, trust, and transparency. You stand out from the crowd because you aren't afraid to share your challenges, hardships, and embarrassing mistakes. Traction is dependent on the size of the following you have on social media. Propose interesting product ideas and solicit feedback from the community. Provide information about previously unknown aspects of the company/product.

        I've successfully applied the above mentioned strategies for my clients.

  3. 1

    For https://www.price2spy.com/ by the spread of the word, however, this was more than 10 years ago, so for https://botmenot.com/ I believe that this would be a combination of my old Price2Spy customers, some spread of the word + marketing efforts, perhaps someone from a Product Hunt launch.

    1. 1

      Thanks Misha, do you remember how did you get to that spread of word? Could you please elaborate on "marketing efforts"? Thank you!!

      1. 2

        Well, Price2Spy was created as an answer to our company's needs. We owned webshops and wanted to offer the most competitive prices possible. Since at the time there were no tools that would do this, we created our own tool.

        At the moment, it was not that hard to rank on Google as it is today, so with the experience, I already had because of the webshop, I managed to rank high for some important keywords. I tried to put as much content as possible on the website and it worked! We got our first client (not counting ourselves) - this started a loop of recommendations.

        I am aware that this strategy is hard to fulfill today, that's why for our new project, BotMeNot, we started with the efforts before the App is launched - it will be a combo of SEO (organic) + Ads + Social Media + Product Hunt + Newsletter - but I have colleagues to help out. If I was on my own, I would put the effort into PH and Ads for the beginning, since the organic part takes time.

        1. 2

          Thanks a lot!! This makes a lot of sense and is extremely helpful!! How is your typical sales funnel for the first few customers once they find you via SEO/Ads/PH etc?

          1. 1

            It depends on the channel. For example,
            If they found us with SEO - it usually brings them to a blog post, so this is top of the funnel most likely, they don’t convert so fast. However, if they came from Ads, for example, they will end up to a landing page for that specific keyword, leading to our registration page. After the registration, the user is connected to an account manager and starts the free 30-day trial.

  4. 1

    "It would be very helpful if you share experiments and tactics that worked for you to get the first 10 customers regardless the business."

    I'd like to offer you a free access to my database of curated growth strategies posted by indie founders to help you get your product off the ground, if you are interested.

    1. 1

      Thanks A LOT!! That would be VERY helpful!! How does it work?

  5. 1

    Sounds like you need to focus on people who don't have any experience with note-taking apps, but are disorganized and need a solution. I had a similar problem with my app, in that I needed to catch people right at the beginning stage of their need (since switching costs are high). Building in public on Twitter worked pretty well for me, as it basically just cast the net wide and got me some inbound interest. You could also consider making it a public beta and "launching" in a few smaller communities to start.

    1. 1

      Thanks Gabe! My problem is exactly how "to catch people right at the beginning stage of their need".

      Just to add more context, right now I don't have a working product. I want to see a little evidence that my solution has real value by finding 10 people who commit to the mock demo with a small amount of money (right now I have 1 person, need 9 more).

      I have never been very active on Twitter, so I am wondering how much effort and how long it takes before seeing some results. The "building in public" strategy is cool but I see A LOT of people posting in the void. What's your experience with it? How did you start? How many followers did you have in the beginning? How long did it take to you to crack it?

      Thank you!!

  6. 1

    By "active buyers" you mean people who use note-taking apps? Probably if the people you met so far didn't want to try your product that's a bad sign. How do you know what problem to solve if you don't have the audience in mind yet?

    Maybe ask some people you know how they solve this problem, or ask where these people hang out online?

    Just some thoughts, I'm struggling with this myself...

    1. 1

      What are some of the current marketing strategies you are doing now?

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