Traction channel: Unconventional Public relations (PR)

unconventional PR

This blog article is based on the 3 Things This Week’s edition dated 17th May 2018. The theme of this edition is “Unconventional Public relations (PR)”, one of the interesting channels for startups!


Companies rarely use unconventional PR as their core channel, but when done well, it can yield amazing results. There are two types of unconventional PR: Publicity stunts and Customer appreciation. Unconventional PR is mainly used to build a strong, positive brand image, while publicity stunts are events or actions that are designed to get people talking.

There are many success cases:

  • com temporarily renamed a small town in the U.S. to their company name and earned publicity for creating jobs there.
  • WePay pulled a stunt to criticize PayPal for freezing user accounts. It placed a huge block of ice at the entrance of PayPal’s developer conference, converting disgruntled PayPal customers into fans of the daring startup.
  • Hipmunk sent custom-made luggage tags and a personal note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the brand on Twitter. Since the luggage tags were well-designed, many people used them when traveling and shared the brand on social media.
  • In its earlier days, reddit sent free t-shirts and personal emails to contributors.
  • com has sent candy, baked goods, Starbucks gift cards, and personal notes to say thank you to customers.
  • com held a competition called Build a Business with a cash prize for the winners.
  • Dropbox created an online scavenger hunt called Dropquest, also with prizes.

Unconventional PR can be cheap, yet yield a very high return.

Some tips to use this traction channel are: Do something big, cheap, fun, and original; do good things for your customers; and know that some stunts may fail, but that’s okay.

Here are this week’s 3 things on unconventional PR:

Thing # 1:  6 Unconventional PR campaigns and the Impact They Had 

Unusual PR campaigns are a risk to companies that attempt them. If they are successful, the buzz and positive coverage are wonderful. However, if the campaigns fail, the negative backlash is just as damaging. Some of the campaigns covered here are  – Healthy Choice, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Taco Bell. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Nathan’s Famous, and Oprah’s Free Cars. Some went successfully while others flopped.

Thing #2:  Guerrilla Marketing Tactics – 18 Top Case Studies and Examples  

When a guerrilla marketing campaign is executed successfully, you’ll probably hear about it. They’re risqué, highly visible, and attention-grabbing.  What distinguishes guerrilla marketing from mere public stunts is cost-effectiveness.  Guerrilla marketing is utilitarian, not extravagant. It’s using existing resources – and a lot of nerve – to inspire mass participation and make a statement.  In this article read the stories of 18 case studies that show that guerrilla marketing doesn’t have to be expensive to be epic and visible.  Key learnings from these case studies – keep your strategy fun, simple, and witty; physically travel to the influencers in your target communities; engage influential bloggers through mutual plugging; flatter your audience – always make them look good; make social phenomena the core of your campaign; be outrageous; dare your audience to test your services; create a viral video that is humorous and pokes fun at yourself; leverage existing communities, events and platforms;  and create controversy by challenging your competitors.

Thing #3:  Publicity stunts: a cheap trick for startups  

Publicity stunts sometimes backfire but with sufficient thought, preparation and not much investment, they can propel a startup to new heights. There are many ways that a publicity stunt can be kind to the company coffers and at the same time propel a brand to the next level.  With the right idea and execution, small can be epic. It’s always going to be tough being a start-up but you shouldn’t let your size constrain your ideas.  Here are some specific take aw ways for startups from this article – Publicity stunts succeed because they speak volumes about what the brand stands for: disrupting an industry and challenging the norm. People think that publicity stunts are done for publicity stunts’ sake but really the successful publicity stunts aren’t the ones that generate coverage; they’re the ones that generate business growth and are born from a brand identity rather than from one bold idea.  The question a start-up needs to ask itself is ‘can any other brand do this?’ If the answer is yes, don’t do it. It has to be a stunt that amplifies and magnifies what the brand does rather than what the category does.  Giving journalists something that they don’t have to research or analyze, but that still provides them with content, can work for both them and the startup.


I would be happy to know how you have used this traction channel for your business and if you have some lessons to share with fellow entrepreneurs.


Traction channel – Public relations (PR)

traction- pr.jpg

This blog article is based on the 3 Things This Week’s edition dated 10th May 2018. The theme of this edition is “Public relations (PR)”, one of the critical channels for startups!


Public relations (PR) traditionally refers to a company’s public messaging of all kinds. In this traction channel, you deal with getting coverage from traditional media like news outlets, newspapers, and magazines.

There has been a shift in how the top media outlets operate. These organizations now scour smaller outlets for captivating stories they can present to a wider audience.  It’s better to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. For them, the direct approach is rarely the best approach. Instead, you approach obliquely. So, you find the blogs that TechCrunch reads and gets stories ideas from. Chances are it will be easier to get that blog’s attention. You pitch there, which leads The New York Times to email you or do a story about you based on the information they’ve seen on the news radar.

Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can. Here are a few ways to do it: Submit a small story to community sites (like Digg, reddit, Hacker News, etc.) with larger audiences. Share it on social networks to drive awareness, which you can further amplify with social ads. Email it to influencers in your industry for comment. Some of them will share it with their audience. Ping blogs in your space and show that you have a story that’s getting some buzz. These writers may then want to jump in themselves to cover you. Once your story has been established as a popular news item, drag it out as long as you can.

Here are 3 things that will take your know-how on this channel further:

Thing # 1: PR For Startups: The Art of the Press Release in 7 Steps

Most people know what PR – aka, public relations – is. Communicating you and your company’s message is an important part of expanding your startup business.  And of course, the immediate goal of PR is to generate press coverage, but by doing this effectively, you can ensure your business is mentioned in future articles even when you haven’t made an announcement; that is what owning a space is all about. So, as discussed, one of the best ways to generate press attention is by using a press release, which informs journalists and editors of the announcement you or your company is making.  To the uninitiated or those who aren’t comfortable writing, this may seem like a daunting task. Creating a press release and then pitching it to journalists can be broken down into just a few simple steps.  This guide will take you over the 7 steps to crafting a killer press release that won’t get ignored.

Thing # 2: How to create quotes for journalists or bloggers: 13 tips to get it right 

Getting your startup business covered is one of the most important things you can do to get your product out there.  Quotes are an integral part of a story. Not only do they make it more entertaining to read, but they offer third party views and therefore give integrity to a story and therefore, journalists look for getting quotes from people connected to the market or industry that the story is about. On the other hand, the sources of a quote in a story are perceived as authorities on the matter.  In other words, a quote from you in a media story puts your face to face with people who matter. It helps you and your startup get a stellar reputation. This article helps you work on refining your quote and also gives you some tips on how you can excel at it.

Thing # 3: PR Checklist for Startups

As your startup grows you may choose to hire a PR firm or consultant to help you with this traction channel. This is especially true if you chose to focus on PR as your traction channel. A good PR firm can help you: Figure out the best messaging and positioning to the press. Unify your message to the press. Do a lot of the legwork in setting up press engagements. If you have just this in your mind to go about this traction channel, this article gives you a great checklist on optimizing your efforts.


I would be happy to know how you have used this traction channel for your business and if you have some lessons to share with fellow entrepreneurs.





What makes a customer buy into a new idea (or a product)?


The answer is – solving an immediate, known pain-point for the customer.

This is all about the connection between pain point of a customer and the solution that your idea or product offers to solve it.

The psychology behind the human pain

At the most basic level, people typically spend money on two things:

  • First, they readily spend money to combat pain.
  • Second, they spend money to pursue pleasure.

Pain and pleasure, are listed in that order for a reason. All things being equal, the acuter the pain or problem, the more likely it is that customer will pay to buy a solution.

Unless you solve one of the top problems your target customer is experiencing you’re scre*ed!

From an entrepreneur’s perspective, this means that it’s often better to be in a “pain business” than a “pleasure business.” There is simply more staying power in pain-solving businesses.

Painkillers, Vitamins, Oxygen Or Vaccines: Which One Is Your Product?

Painkiller products:  Two words…  “MUST HAVES”, yep, these type of products fall under the essentials category.  And another common characteristic of them is that they provide an almost immediate relief.

Vitamin products: The main alternative to painkiller-products?  Vitamins (aka “as nice to have”).  Said differently, this kind of products are not bought out of sheer necessity but rather because of a desire to fulfill some non-critical individual preferences.  Such examples could be things like jewelry, watches, productivity tools, dating apps, etc.

Vaccine products: Which as you might imagine are goods with strong preventive nature such as insurance products or health check-ups.

Oxygen products: Not hard to guess what’s that about, right?  That’s correct. Are products that, as ‘the experts’ put it, “you can NOT live without”…  Insulin (for diabetics), revenues (for companies), or air-conditioning (for ‘Middle Eastern people’ during summer) could be some examples here.

Why do users pay?

All (or most) money made by a business, by fair means, comes from real users.  Users only pay for something that solves a problem, they have, in a really good way.  It’s not enough to get users to pay once – for a business to really grow users has to pay again & again and they should spread the word about you. The only way to accomplish this is to create a high-quality solution for a problem that’s important for users.  And, that’s possible only when you have a high-quality understanding about the pain point in the first place.

However, there is one more thing. Just because a problem is painful, urgent and on top of peoples’ minds don’t make it a winner.  Maybe the competition effectively addresses that problem and people are happy with what’s out there.  For many people, even painful and urgent problems don’t justify the decision to open up their wallet.

Implications for building solution

To create a high-quality solution,  you really need to care deeply about a problem. You should care so deeply that you want to solve it not only for yourself but for everyone in the world. You should care so much that “you get joy in your customer’s joy” and “you feel pain if your customer is in pain”. Without that connection, it won’t work.

Try to articulate the pain point that you want to solve in less than half a sentence. If you can articulate the pain point that you are solving, the more odds are that you will get to know more about it as you start working on it. Founders who need paragraphs to describe this demonstrate that they haven’t got this right yet.

To you want to take that test to see if know the pain of your customers?

Traction channel – viral marketing

viral marketing.jpg

This blog article is based on the 3 Things This Week’s edition dated 3rd May 2018. The theme of this edition is “viral marketing”, one of the most important and sought-after – dream channel for startups!

Viral marketing is the process of getting your existing users to refer others to your product. In the context of startups, going viral means that every user you acquire brings in at least one other user: that new user then invites another user, and so on. This creates true exponential growth. Though difficult to sustain, it’s been the driving force behind the explosive growth of consumer startups like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp. As great as your product may be, true viral growth is unlikely. However, this channel is so powerful that it may still be worthwhile creating referral programs where your users can refer others to your product.

There are different kinds of vitality and ways to go about using them:

  • The oldest form of vitality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it – pure word of mouth. Word of mouth drove Facebook’s early growth among college students before they started building in more explicit viral hooks (email invites, adding your friends via address books, etc.). Word of mouth also causes many movies, books, diets and TV shows to take off.
  • Inherent vitality occurs when you can only get value from a product by inviting other users. Skype and apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp also fall into this category. This type of virility comes with the advantage of “network effects,” where the value of the network increases as more people get on it.
  • Other products grow by encouraging collaboration. In this case, the product is still valuable on its own but becomes more so as you invite others. Google Docs is useful alone, but it is far more valuable when used collaboratively.
  • Another common case is to embed vitality into communications from the product. Hotmail put a “Get a free email account with Hotmail. Sign up now.” as a default signature and Apple similarly appends “sent from my iPhone.” As a result, every message sent spreads the word about the product.
  • Products can also incentivize their users to move through their viral loops and tell others about the product. Dropbox gives you more space if you get friends to sign up. AirBnB, Uber, PayPal, and Gilt give you account credits for referring the product to friends.
  • Companies like reddit and YouTube have grown virally by using embedded buttons and widgets. On each video page, YouTube provides the code snippet necessary to embed a video on any website.
  • Another type of viral loop leverages social networks to attract new users to a product. In this case, a user’s activities are broadcast to their social connections; often more than once. If you’ve spent any time on Facebook, we’re sure you’ve seen your friends liking articles on other sites, playing songs on Spotify, or pinning content on Pinterest.

Here are this week’s 3 things on viral marketing:

Thing #1: Top 3 Viral Marketing Campaigns to Take Inspiration From

Very few people know what goes into making a viral marketing campaign successful until it starts to spread. There are, however, some brands, who have understood what makes the audience tick. In fact, there are some consistent elements in such campaigns, which brands can follow. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and have a look at the top three examples of viral marketing campaigns over the past few years. There is a lot you can potentially learn from them as they exactly know how to resonate with the target audiences.

Thing #2: How to build a referral program inspired by Dropbox

Your existing user base is probably one of the most powerful user acquisition channels. People always tend to listen to recommendations from friends that’s why word of mouth is so powerful. The point is to get your users to talk to their friends about your product. In other words, create a viral loop. Users usually need a small push to start telling their friends about how great your service is. That’s why it’s 100% important to incentivize your users to invite their friends. This is what Dropbox did and boosted its viral growth – Dropbox went from 100,000 to 4,000,000 users in 15 months. Along with Dropbox, many more companies started a referral like this. Airbnb, Instacart, Lyft, Teespring, Uber and many more.  Read this article to know how you can build your own Dropbox-style referral campaign.

Thing # 3:  Why Niantic didn’t need marketing to make Pokémon Go viral   

‘Pokémon Go’ – a humble app game with a simple idea behind it, that had taken the world by storm through viral marketing. It seems at first that its instant success is credited solely to 90’s nostalgia, and rapid word-of-mouth spread, so what can brands who don’t already have a strong presence in pop culture learn from Pokémon Go’s marketing success? The company behind Pokémon Go, Niantic, has done very little to promote the game since it launched. Beyond a handful of release notifications from the official Pokémon Go Twitter account, no TV commercials have been commissioned and in-app advertising is minimal. Niantic has instead relied on word-of-mouth to promote its take on Pokémon, particularly in the form of unofficial viral pictures, videos and social media posts shared online (internet memes) that reference or parody the game. This user-generated content ensures the title is on the lips of the masses, even if many of them haven’t even played it yet.  Read on to get more stories on Pokémon’s viral marketing campaign.

I would be happy to know how you have used this traction channel for your business and if you have some lessons to share with fellow entrepreneurs.




Startup traction channel: community building



Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting book has “community building” as one of the traction channels and this is the subject of this blog post (build from this week’s edition of the newsletter – 3ThingsThisWeek).

Community building involves investing in the connections among your users, fostering those relationships and helping them bring more people into your startup’s circle. These people are known as evangelists – passionate users who tell others about how awesome a product is.

Chris McCann (of Startup Digest) talked about the types of companies that will benefit from community building: “Companies whose core function is the connecting of people are best set up to take advantage of the community. Whether that’s a trade show thing, an investment thing, whatever: when a company’s underlying value is in bringing people together, and where people matter in the system, that’s where this community stuff can really take off.”

Key to a strong community is cultivating and empowering evangelists. You also want to foster cross-connection among evangelists and community members in general (through forums, events, etc.). Community building can give you traction by magnifying your essential purpose, building a core asset, creating evangelists for your service, contributing to product development and even giving you a hiring pool.

The simplest and most valuable thing you’ll get from a community is highly engaged customers or users. This high engagement leads to the rest of the benefits…

Thing # 1: How to successfully build a community around your startup

A community doesn’t have to be as concrete as you think it is. It doesn’t have to be a forum, discussion board or comments section, or a social network. It doesn’t even have to be on your own site. It can be very informal. A great example of that and one we’ve all witnessed has been Ryan when building Product Hunt. It’s been talked a lot before, but it came down to Ryan personally engaging with Product Hunt’s users on Twitter and inviting product makers when their products appeared on the site. You can turn a following like this into a community. The advantage to a community is that it sticks a lot longer than press coverage. And if you keep your community engaged, and they remain interested in what you’re doing, it’ll stick. And that community can be turned into users for whatever product you want to push at that moment. That’s the magic of it. Read this article to know how Nomad List was launched and build using community building.

Thing # 2: Why Slack is Exploding as a Community-Building Platform

There’s no question that workplace communication is Slack’s sweet spot, enabling faster and easier internal collaboration between groups of all sizes. But there’s another use case Slack empowers, one that’s gaining traction and helping drive growth: hosting communities. Rather than host a forum or digital community themselves, or use social media platforms to engage, many community managers are turning to Slack as a place to quickly and easily build tight-knit communities. Slack has emerged as a powerful tool to host and build communities and this article will tell you how you can also do it.

Thing # 3: An Unfiltered Look at How to Launch a New Community

This article brings you a journey of mapping out the strategy, testing assumptions and launching what will hopefully be a thriving community. The first step in launching a new community is to define your assumptions and put together your plan. To do this, a tool – Community Canvas, a framework is used as step one when putting together a community strategy. It’s like a business model canvas, but for your community. Like a business model canvas, the community canvas too has 9 blocks. And once the plan is put together to get this community off the ground, you start testing your assumptions through research, and by actually launching the thing to see how members respond. An interesting framework to launch and build a community, using lean startup principles! Anyone wants to try it out?

Do you want to explore using this traction channel – community building, for your startup? I would be happy to help out, drop in a line to start a conversation about it.



Did you know there are 11 types of users that you meet?

diff early users.jpg

When we launch a new product, people around us in our network – family members, friends, associates, and well-wishers may be among the first few users who come on board. There are two clear advantages of doing that – first, they are much more easily accessible than complete strangers and secondly, they all mean well for you.

But, they say, you should go beyond your immediate circle.

Not a problem! We run some Facebook ads or start pitching the product or the idea to everyone that you meet and see what they think!

The logic is solid here. If someone responds to the ad or to the your approaches, obviously this person would have a need (for the product that you are building). Of course, why else he or she would spend time and energy to talk to you? “This person obviously is from my target segment and possibly my early user,” is how we think.

There are, however, 11 types of users that you may encounter. Lets analyse these 11 different persons (Mr. or Ms) of the early user and how should you approach them in your strategy to woo them.

Mr. Who Cares:

Signature: These are the kind of people who don’t know if they have a problem. They don’t know it they need it or if it matters to them

Solution: Find something they care about, and show them how your solution will help them with the thing that they already care about. This helps them to understand the extra mileage that your solution can help them go.

Mr. Skeptic:

Signature: These are the kind of people who are always questioning and don’t trust you and your offering. They don’t believe you, your product or your claims.

Solution: You need to build credibility for you and your product to alleviate these fears. Address their doubts of credibility before they ask. Build trust through social proofs.

Mr Doubtful:

Signature: These are kind of people that worry about the cost or benefit for your solution. They seem to get it but they never seem to buy from you. Will always ask questions like — Doesn’t work for me? I cant afford this? Don’t have time to experiment

Solution: Try to lower the barrier to entry to try.

Mr. Procrastinator:

Signature: These are the kind of people who always delay and don’t have urgency to buy even if they know they will benefit from the solution.

Solution: They are not 100% sure of their decisions and base their decision by looking at something or someone. So create scarcity. Give them small wins. Eliminate fear of trying. Give them trailer of how it works and how can it help.

Mr. Toxic

Signature: These are the kind of people who are always the first ones to shoot down your ideas. They are complete pessimists and can suck away all of your excitement with a single derogatory comment.

Solution:   It is best to avoid talking to toxic persons. Find someone positive to talk to.

Mr. Genuine Fear

Signature: These are the kind of people who are genuinely fearful about change that a new product brings in. The fear could be about some specific factors related to your product or it could be just the fear of unknown.

Solution: If you can have some insights about the factors or sources of fear, you could possibly deal with them,

Mr. Nothing’ New

Signature:  These are the kind of people who consider anything that is not completely new and different, is not worth their time and always ask, “Has this been done before?”

Solution: Try to find out more about his existing alternatives and dis-satisfaction points vis a vis existing options to solve the pain.

Mr. Parent

Signature: These are the kind of people who have a strong urge to be “nice” and “helpful” to you.  And this urge may over dominate a “need” factor totally, even if it was there in the first place.

Solution: Its nice to have protecting people around, but its not going to take your business goals further if you have them. Be thankful to them and tell them to go for your product only if they have a pain point that gets addressed by your product. Otherwise, they can always give you some reference of some other people who they think may have the pain point.

Mr. More Info

Signature: These are the kind of people who will not be satisfied with what you present to them. They always look for more information and want to do more research about your product.

Solution: Feed to their need for information, have long healthy discussions, introduce them to some experts that you have been working on and these guys will be on your side.

Mr. Not Me

Signature: These are the kind of people who have the pain point, are aware of the fact that they have this pain point, but are just not willing to act on it and so, are putting up resistance to your product.

Solution:  Reassure them about the positive changes that your product offers to their life and find ways to help them break their old habbits.

Mr. Bring it On:

Signature: These are your ideal first clients. They are always excited to try everything that comes out.

Solution: Show them vision, breakthrough, innovation in your category to woo such customers

Summing up

When you are approaching people randomly, you encounter different types of early users and you need different ways to deal with them. There is however, an alternative approach – look for your early adopters. Early adopters are the people who have the pain point that you are trying to solve and who are actively looking for solution for it. There is an incredible match between the two of you and they are a much better option for you to begin conversation with.

This alternative may involve some hard  work, you may need to look for them individually and recruit them manually to begin with.

Approaching strangers randomly, being much of a passive work, is less effort.

But, trust me, you will find this little hard work to find early adopters much productive in the final analysis.


6 Reasons you didn’t cross paths with early adopter by choice



While it is fairly straightforward that you need early adopters to build a new product successfully, it’s also usually true that founders find it hard to seek them and work with them.

Existence of problem

Before we get into that, let’s just recap few things and set a context to understand the situation in which a start-up founder is when he or she is building a new product.

Start-up is a stage in the process of turning a business idea into an established real company and a ‘start-up’ is a company that is confused about – what its product is? Who its customers are? How to make money?

We start with assumptions about everything, to begin with.

The more early you start to get a sense for theories against reality, the safer you are.

With an incredible fit between you and your early adopters, they play a crucial role in speeding up this process of clarity before your resources are exhausted.

Early adopters optimise your efforts.

If you want to build a new business, you need to cross the paths with your early adopters, not by chance but by choice.

And yet, in practice, we see many founders do not do this.


There are 6 reasons for this.

Reason # 1 – Better mousetrap fallacy

Even founders who believe in lean startup methods tend to fall into it. The “better mousetrap fallacy” is the mistaken belief that a superior product will automatically generate customers. It is easy for start-up founders to get blinded by their new product as they are working hard to build.

And, it is this fallacy that some founders tend to not give much attention to working on getting early adopters.

Reason # 2 – Trying to scale early

Premature scaling is “spending money beyond the essentials on growing the business before nailing the product/market fit.”  Or, spending resources on mass marketing much before you know what solution might work for sure.

Why does this happen?

  • We like the very idea of a big number of users.
  • We don’t like engaging with users individually because it’s hard and demoralizing to be rejected.
  • We are shy and feel lazy to recruit users individually,

Most of the successful startups started from a handful number of users or early adopters and in the beginning, did many things that don’t scale.

Reason # 3 – Mistaken identity

Some users sign up for a variety of reasons (other than the consideration of their pain point), though they may not be having an urgency to solve the problem that you are trying to solve. And, for the reasons that they signed up early, you mistake them for being early adopters.

What is the problem with this?

  • If the users who signed up are not desperate to find solutions, there is less likelihood of an active usage of your product or them buying it.
  • And until users start using your product actively, you will not get any feedback about its usefulness.

Reason # 4 – At loss with them

We don’t know where to find them and we don’t know how to reach out to them. We don’t know how to get them on board. We don’t know how to engage with them.

It is not a rocket science that you cannot learn.  The key to doing it right is to treat each individual user as a human and not as something that adds to the numbers.

Reason # 5 – Pitching urge

In an early product building phase, learning is more critical than pitching.  But many times, we give a miss to this.


  • We come under pressure from targets.
  • It is very hard to resist the temptation to pitch or sell our product or idea and in the process, we tend to forget “learning” as the core objective of customer discovery.
  • We tend to not care to learn about prospects; it’s just so much easy to focus on product and technology instead.

When you are in a “pitching” mode, you are looking for as many sale opportunities as possible and when you are in a “learning” mode, you are looking for conversation opportunity.

Reason # 6 – Avoiding unsexy stuff

There is a hard work involved in locating prospects to be approached for customer discovery and at times it is hard to reach out to them and convince them to spare time for us.

The whole process is time-consuming. It would take the focus away from product development, design and sales.

If you don’t do what is needed to reach your early adopters, you will never be able to reach them.

The double benefit of seeking them

  • You acquire active users

  • You define your product

The inaction is doubly dangerous

  • You fail to grow.

  • You remain in denial about your product’s lameness.

You make a choice!


Take away from this article

  1. How much ever it may sound hard, it is important to overcome all those reasons that you find keeping you away from early adopters.
  2. And the good news is that all of those reasons can be worked upon and overcome if you want to.
  3. Life is too short to build something that no one wants. Find your early adopters today!


4 Signs to know if you are not with early adopters


When you’re just starting you have one main priority: validating that the problem you are trying to solve is in fact real. In other words, you want to find those people who currently have a pain point that you want to solve.

Figuring out who that someone is therefore crucial to your survival.

Who they are?

We want to look for people currently have this problem. And we want to look for people, who are looking for solutions,

Early adopters validate the problem. With their discovery, you turn your assumption that there exists the problem into a validated learning.

They provide the customers perspectives, as against your views about their perspective.


Without Early adopters, there’s no one to tell your early majority about your product. If you don’t get your early Majority, no one will convince your late majority to use your product, and of course, you’ll never find your laggards. Your entire growth process starts with and depends on your early adopters.

In short, you really got to get them.

Here are the signs to know if you are or are not with early adopters

Sign # 1- No signs of pain


  • They do not have the pain point that you are trying to resolve.
  • They do not have a pain point that is severe enough.


  • Not actively seeking solutions for the pain point.
  • Not enthusiastic about using your product they signed up.
  • You need to do a lot of work to get them to invest their “time” into your product.

Sign # 2 – Lack of enthusiasm in usage


  • They do not have the pain point that you want to solve.
  • Triggers that create a desire for a better outcome for the customers are not strong.
  • Your solution is not solving their pain point better in comparison to existing alternatives.
  • Their existing habits or anxieties about new options that hold them back when going for a new solution like your product.


  • Every now and then you need to nudge them to use your product.
  • They don’t initiate usage on their own.
  • They don’t initiate efforts to reach out to you.
  • You don’t get quality, honest feedback.
  • A lot of “dead” or inactive users on board.

Sign # 3 – They don’t share information about your product


  • They are not enthusiastic about your product.
  • You are not creating a significant value for them.


  • They’ll not find other people and will not want to share your work with them.
  • They will not spread the word about you.
  • They will not stand up for you, fight for you and repeat your name where it matters.
  • No new signups via organic way.

Sign # 4 – Inconsistent growth in traction             


  • Your product’s engagement with them is practically stagnant.
  • You are chasing wrong users.
  • You may have to look for pivot options.


  • Inconsistent or zero monthly growth in revenues, new customers, new non-paying users.
  • Unproductive marketing efforts.

To see or not to see

In my experience, many founders would see these signs and yet not take any corrective measure. Part of the reason is that, we continue to hope, some day existing users will prove to be early adopters.

Another reason is that we do not like to acknowledge that work that we did in past few months is not a great achievement.

But, knowing what works and what doesn’t early is the biggest achievement for you.


What do you do if you are  not in a company of your early adopters?

So here are the two options for you, if you find in such situation.

Options # 1 – Pivot your business model

Which means, you continue with the customers that you got on board and work on getting insights about some other pain point for them which could be worked upon.

Option # 2 – Seek early adopters for current business model

Or, start doing work in locating real early adopters for your product.



Take always

  1. Early adopters are the most critical element for a new business building.
  2. If you can’t find early adopters, you can’t build a business.
  3. If you are not working with early adopters for your product, you better discover it sooner than later.

How do I get my first 100 users for feedback, after building the MVP?

cover pic

(Adopted from replies to two questions on Quora over past few months)

There are two kinds of people that you may seek –

(1) Early adopters — These are the people who you need desperately at an early stage to validate and evolve your business model. These are the people who are already trying to solve a pain point that you are trying to address to through your business model. Identifying and connecting with your early adopters is the most crucial element in an early-stage business building.

(2) Beta testers — These are not early adopters, in the sense, they do not have a pain point that you are trying to solve through your business model. But they can possibly test the technicality of the product. This is essentially used to identify bugs in your coding (in case of a tech context), but you can draw a parallel to any other industry context too.

Finding each of these two kinds of guys involves different work.

Customer discovery

But, more than the beta testers, you need to look for early adopters (if you have not already into them), only they matter to you at this stage. Talking to others is a fairly waste of time.

The early adopters are the ones who:

· Have a problem that you are trying to solve;

· Are aware of the existence of the problem;

· Have already tried to solve the problem;

· Are unhappy with the current solution to the problem;

· Have a budget to get the problem solved

In the innovation growth curve that shows usage of a new product over time, you have early adopters as the first group of people, followed by late adopters, early majority and laggards. In real life, the sequence to goes in the same order. Roughly, you are reaching towards your product market fit when you see your early majority group actively using your product.

This is how you can sum up the four groups in your target segment in terms of their situation vis a vis the pain point that you want to solve.

So, essentially, early adopters are the people you want to target first.

They’re already looking for a solution, which means they are keen to solve their problem and they are possibly not happy with the options with them.

Your big work is taken care of when you don’t need to bring awareness about the existence pain and you don’t need to convince them that they need to solve this problem.

This makes it an incredible fit!

What is left is really to present them something that will work for them.

Or, even better, get insights about their challenges with respect to the existing options and using those insights build something new that works just perfect for them.

Inbox me if you want to learn how to go about getting early adopters.


Why is finding and engaging with early adopters hard?

2. why customer discovery


The riskiest assumption, for your start-up in the beginning, is whether there are any people actively trying to solve the problem your product will solve for them.

These are the people we call early adopters.

Your goals is really to find if there are people already trying to solve the problem (that you are working on), understand how they describe the problem, know the emotions they experience with the problem, know how to reach more of similar of them and get insights on dissatisfaction factors of their current solution.


Startups need to begin by seeking out this core group of early adopters and then engaging with individual users to convince them to sign up.  Focusing on this has a double benefit — you acquire users and define the product. On the other hand, if you inaction on this is doubly dangerous, because you not only fail to grow, but you can remain in denial about your product’s lameness.

Start-up is a stage in the process of turning a business idea into an established real company and a ‘start-up’ is a company that is confused about – what its product is? Who its customers are? How to make money? We start with assumptions about everything to begin with. The more early you start to get a sense for theories against reality, the safer you are.  Early adopters play a crucial role in speeding up this process of clarity, before your resources are exhausted.

“If you can’t find early adopters, you can’t build a business.” – Trevor Owens, Lean Startup Machine CEO

Yet, in practice, we see many founders find it hard to find early adopters and engage with them.  Here are some of the reasons commonly found that come in a way of you and your early adopters.

  • We are not serious about finding them.
  • We don’t like engaging with users individually, because it’s hard and demoralizing.
  • We get mistaken them with those who are not.
  • We are not fully convinced that we need them. We continue in love with our product and believe that people will buy.
  • We don’t know where to find them and we don’t know how to reach out to them.
  • We don’t know how to get them on board.
  • We don’t know how to engage with them.
  • We don’t know how to de-code what they tell us.
  • We come under pressure of targets. It is very hard to resist the temptation to pitch or sell our product and in the process, we tend to forget “learning” as the core objective of customer discovery.
  • There is a hard work involved in locating prospects to be approached for customer discovery and at times it is hard to reach out to them and convince them to spare time for us.
  • The whole process is time consuming. It would take focus away from product development, design and sales.

Life is too short to build something that no one wants.

Find your early adopters today!