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Many founders struggle with acquiring their first 100 beta users for a new idea. I've had to figure this out myself over half a dozen times in my portfolio of 15+ side hustles in the last few years. It wasn’t all linear but I’ve observed some key patterns.
Today, I’ll share lessons from 2 relevant products namely:
Cuppa, a virtual 1:1 matchmaking tool which grew from 0→ 2200 beta users
LetterDrop, a newsletter discovery marketplace like Product Hunt, which grew from 0 → 950 users without ever launching on ProductHunt or HackerNews
Here's how I did it:
Start with a waitlist 🔐
A lot of founders make the mistake of directly unveiling their product to public without creating any buzz around the launch.
Never open to a vague general audience. Set up a waitlist & let people opt-in so you have a focused audience.
Build a viral loop to Twitter 🐦
After people sign up on your waitlist, don't give instant access. Give them a way to share their excitement on Twitter and bring friends to be bumped up to "priority access" to the beta. This step is admittedly high friction but it will clearly show you who's really serious among your audience.
Make it easy to share 🤝
I always have pre-composed tweets behind most buttons using "Clicktotweet". It's the little things that matter - people love simply editing the copy and just hitting tweet than having to start from scratch.
Treat super fans like royalty 😇
The small percentage of super fans who went through the hoops for you have to be absolutely thanked and recognized. Among your waitlist, these are your most passionate audience. Give them more value, tweet at them, slide into DMs, show love.
Build In Public 🔦
Let people know what you are building way before you have an MVP.
Use a landing page to share your thesis & attract the right users. Make it clean, easy to digest and just high-level.
Roll out invites in batches 🧵
My playbook for launches is:
I share the earliest version (v1) with my mastermind group of a handful of founder friends I trust
I iterate on their feedback & within a week, launch it to super fans on the waitlist
Then I share it with people on the waitlist
Later, I open access to those in my Twitter audience
Eventually, I open it up to broader bigger networks like IndieHackers or ProductHunt
Build audience each day 😍
I may not be shipping product features every day but I'm always sharing the story of what I'm building to get people excited --- either in private or public. My default assumption is no one remembers about me until I show up and add value daily. It keeps me humble & reminds me to share fun behind-the-scenes content and anecdotes/stories to push the narrative forward each day.
Treat beta seriously
A beta launch is as important as a real public launch. I do my best to build community from the 1st user - listen to them, reply to their emails/tweets, understand how they're using the product. Not easy but rewarding because it boosts word of mouth which is the holy grail of marketing.
Use one channel effectively
I occasionally share my updates on platforms like IndieHackers or Linkedin too but somehow a lot of the users for my projects come from Twitter.
LetterDrop grew to 505 beta users & Cuppa is 1600+ within months from v1 all because I was consistently sharing the journey on one channel → Twitter. Find a channel that works for you & stay focused in the early days.
So that’s it for now. These are some lessons I’ve learned from direct experience.
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And that’s a wrap for now!
Thank you for giving your attention and checking this edition out.
Would really appreciate it if you can take 5 seconds and pay it forward to help someone else leverage these tips by sharing this article on Twitter/Linkedin and tag me (@thisiskp_). Feel free to DM me for cross-promotions or ad sponsorships.
"Start with a waitlist" How do you get 100 people on your waitlist though? Seem like a bit of a cold start problem here. Are your comments assuming you have some kind of an audience or following already?