Identifying an early adopter market

I might not be alone here: I spent a long time building my product and did almost no idea validation activity beforehand. Totally wrong. Completely backwards. Doomed for failure, probably.

Whether or not it's doomed for failure is still to be determined. But I'm in a much better place now to give success its best shot.

Xapnik started as me doing the classic 'scratch your own itch' activity. So, in almost no way whatsoever did I do any market validation while I was building it. I was building it for fun and learning.

As I showed it to people, though, I started to think Xapnik had potential beyond a cool project for me and my friends. Yet, my "Spidey" sense wasn't tingling in response to any of the potential toe-hold markets that people were suggesting. Each one seemed to me to have a lot of reasons why Xapnik wouldn't resonate strongly enough to create super fans.

This went on for months. While I was still coding I was also trying different target-user ideas out, not really finding anything that seemed like it had lots of potential. It impacted my ability to create an effective landing page, elevator pitch, etc. I didn't know what I was trying to say because I didn't know who I was trying to say it to.

Then, earlier this week, I listened to the IH podcast interview with Sam Parr of The Hustle. Because of Sam's demeanor, I immediately had a reaction of, "oh I'm gonna have to take this guy with a huge grain of salt." But to my surprise, Parr kept saying things that triggered big AHA moments for me.

The biggest AHA moment was when Parr said that founders who want to make money should focus on a customer who wants to make money with their product. That's a customer who will see real value in your product, or let you know you're not delivering enough value.

Boom. What a great way to focus and filter my thinking.

This sent me on a research project brainstorming about who is the user who'd really and truly get the most value out of what Xapnik does. Who'd immediately understand? After a few false positives, I finally came upon organizers who are running paid Slack and Discord communities.

Anyone who's charging people to be part of Slack or Discord is delivering significant value to those paid users. They want to nurture and grow that community. Examples are YouTubers, Twitch personalities, subject matter experts/gurus with learning courses, etc. Inviting their paid users to private Xapnik groups, and regularly actively engaging those users on their various social media accounts, could create significant additional value for those paid users.

So, now I have a very clear picture of who I'm targeting, and why, which helps everything else fall into place—where to find these users, what kind of language they use, what's important to them, where to research their biggest problems and challenges, etc.

This doesn't mean I'm right, of course. Xapnik may not catch on with that market. But testing it'll be straight forward. I'll be able to gather data and make decisions from there. And that's a giant leap from where I've been up til now.

So, thanks IH podcast and Sam Parr. TIL.

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