I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but I'm going to go ahead and say it. I DONT KNOW MY AUDIENCE. I've been working on my project http://isoflow.io for a couple of months now, and I haven't spoken to one member of my potential audience yet. I know this goes against the first sacred law of product development (KNOW THY AUDIENCE), and don't get me wrong, I've been tracking the forums, and looking at the product landscape in the space I'm targetting, basically observing my audience but not TALKING DIRECTLY TO THEM.
If like me, you're having a hard time interacting with potential customers, I have a suggestion. Talk to people who have set up products similar to yours (preferably already established), because they will have knowledge of your type of customer at scale. If they're willing to share their experiences (and you'd be surprised at how eager founders actually want to talk about their experiences), they can give you a fantastic insight into the minds of your potential customers (e.g. what they wanted, what they didn't want, the size of the market etc) and also a lookahead into what to expect on your journey (even by a couple of years).
I'm not talking shady tactics, be completely open when you introduce yourself, your product and your aims. Claim how your product is different early on so that you're clear about what competition you are posing and how you plan to enter the market (you might find this actually brings down barriers and makes your product look less like a threat if you have a clear differentiator).
All in all, talking to a product founder in the same space has given me the most valuable insight into what I can expect from releasing a product like http://isoflow.io . I'd highly recommend sending out a few emails and trying to get 30 mins with someone in your space. Oh, and let's remember to do that for others if someone comes knocking at our door later on down the line asking for our experiences. 👍