April 19, 2019

Is the first 10k active users the hardest?

Kevin Burton @burtonator

It seems like getting the first 10k active users is the hardest for an app.

It seems to me that once you get over that hurdle you can focus on more iterative and compounded growth.

My experience with SEO and the app stores is that you need to really carve out a strong niche but then it's kind of downhill.

For example, my experience is that unless you have a large number of users the app stores sort of ignore your app.

Does anyone else feel like this?

  1. 1

    I don't think things are easier because you have 10,000 users. It only seems that way because by then you've put in all the hard work to build something great (product, distribution channels, partnerships, etc) that helped you get to 10,000 users. That stuff is what gives you your advantage, more than the users.

    And I still don't really agree that it's easier! Yes, going from 10,001 to 10,021 users is easier than going from 1 to 21 users, definitely. But at that size, you don't care about an extra 20 users. You care about going from 10k to 20k, and that's really freaking hard. A lot harder than going from 1 to 2 or from 10 to 20.

    Because when you're dealing with small numbers, almost anything works. You can brute force it. Literally get on the phone and call people one at a time. Send cold emails. Answer questions on Quora. Respond to tweets, and forum posts, and threads on Hacker News. Walk up to people at conferences or in coffee shops. Pester your friends and family. It's not glamorous, but it works. It's very easy to do. No genius required.

    At bigger numbers, the number of viable growth channels dwindles. At certain levels, absolutely nothing will move the needle except for things that are very challenging to succeed at.

  2. 1

    Don't take offense to this. But your way of thinking is fear. Stop thinking of those things that you know nothing about and focus your thinking on Perceptual thinking, not Circumstantial thinking.

    Your app needs to be your main focus. Don't worry about X number of users, they'll come. You need to focus on step 1. I don't know what that is since idk where you're currently with the app, but your thinking is step 8 already, and you're complaining about things you need more experience in.

    If you have 10k users, that doesn't help anything. If your app sucks, and your users aren't sharing it, talking about it, or anything that helps your business of the app, then your app might not be what people need, or it needs to focus on what people need from it, and remove the fluff that people don't need.

  3. 1

    Unambiguously true.

    I'd say the first 10 users is the hardest though. Then the first 100, then the first 500, then the first 1000, then the first 10,000