May 13, 2019

Recruiting Initial Users For Semi Social App

Josh @joshchoi

Hi folks! I'm building my third startup, and need tips to recruit initial users. This is my third app before I graduate college, and I would like to get somewhere with it. The first app I built reached close to 2,000 users, but I wasn't skilled as a founder/developer to iterate on feedback quickly enough. The second app had a pathetic range of 300 users — I gained a TON of experience as a programmer for this, but I failed to establish/engage with our users.

This time, I'm building an image search platform powered by communities of people (I'm passionate about computer vision and how it can make lives easier). You can find more about it here (https://www.nanolens.co). I've asked a similar question on IH before about managing time effectively, but now, I would love some tips and pointers on (1) how to recruit users and (2) engage with them effectively.

TL;DR
Trying to recruit users for a social app. What are some of the most effective strategies you've used to recruit? What kept your users engaged, not only with your product/app but also your company? What were some KPIS you've measured and did they turn out to be what you needed to measure?

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    What you are building is cool. The app store is a difficult place to gain users. Similar to how you have search optimization on websites, there is search optimization in the app store. The objective is that you trend in specific categories resulting in targeted downloads. While apple ads can bubble you to the top, it's a coin-operated machine and has zero long term value. Instead there are companies like kochava which use turks to simulate behavior resulting in a surge in organic behavior. I've used them to get over 30k users to a new app. FYI it's not cheap.

    Alternatively, If you can get early adopters socializing your app then it makes it an entirely organic effort.

    Is your computer vision tech commercial or are you running your own infrastructure/models? I ask because I am NYC based and am sitting on 2 DGX workstations with insane compute power for training custom models. We use computer vision in a pipeline (tesseract, open cv, tensorflow, faster r-cnn) to recognize software UI elements / pattens and write code. I'd love to see what your plans are with your app.

    1. 1

      @RyanHickman thanks for your response. I've never spent money on ads yet — I'd rather validate value via organic growth that way. Perhaps in the future, I would spend some dollars on marketing, but I don't think it's absolutely necessary right now. As for the CV models, I'm using both a commercial API as well as my own models. Currently, they're converted to CORE ML (Apple's ML Models for iOS). I store the models in my database and the client would fetch the models, and discard them after usage (given that they take up to nearly 100MB+ locally which is something people would not appreciate). I've heard of running models in the backend for Tensorflow, which is something really interesting that I want to get into (our architecture is a Node.js running on an NGINX on AWS). I'd love to connect with you and share my plans with Nanolens! Is there an email I can contact you at?

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        Use the email in my profile on IH.

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          Hi @RyanHickman, I just launched Nanolens. You can download the app and use the invite code JSTDOIT to sign up for an account www.nanolens.co.

          Also, I sent you an email!

  2. 1

    Is it also an option that actual people look at the images? Or just an AI? For getting users, maybe we can help each other, on my website you can make requests for instagram/twitter shout-outs. It's wishpage.tv

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      Hi @WishRider3000, I just launched Nanolens. You can download the app and use the invite code JSTDOIT to sign up for an account www.nanolens.co.

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      Yes, if what you're asking can be rephrased as, "Can the app analyze existing images without having to capture new photos?" I'll definitely check out wishpage.tv when I can. Thanks

  3. 1

    If you have the email list of all your previous users from your previous projects you can send them an email promoting this new app. Continue to build your audience and keep your supporters up to date on your projects. For me, this is where we use our social media accounts, this way when we need some users we just reach out for help. Best of luck Josh.

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      Hi @oceanring, I just launched Nanolens. You can download the app and use the invite code JSTDOIT to sign up for an account www.nanolens.co.

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      You know, I didn't realize how the list I've accumulated may be the most effective way to build a community. The fear of apathy from them might've been what's been holding me back.

  4. 1

    Good luck on your app Josh. This is a good place to start to get users for your alpha or beta versions. You might also want to try Product Hunt and BetaList to see if there can be any early adopters there. I know there's other places to get early adopters to use your app, I just can't think of them off the top of my head right now. Looking forward to seeing you and this app of yours grow.

    If you're interested in hearing or working on new projects let me know. I'd love brainstorm an idea that I have with you.

    1. 1

      Thanks, @vez1132. I have launched on Product Hunt before, but never got anywhere with it — hence why I have joined the IH community. I'd love to brainstorm ideas with you. Feel free to shoot me an email [email protected]

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        Just shot you a quick email.

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          Hi @vez1132, I just launched Nanolens. You can download the app and use the invite code JSTDOIT to sign up for an account www.nanolens.co.