How to find early adopters for your product

Run ads? Go out and start making noise in all possible traction channels?

Not really.

Finding early adopters of your product is extremely hard – irrespective of whether you are building a B2B or B2C company and the process itself gives you a good peek into the story that lies ahead of your startup.

Early Adopters: How do you define them

First of all, let’s define what are these early adopters? What makes them special?

They are, simplistically put – Curious,  Brave and at the same time, they have a problem for which your product might potentially fit in.

By curious what I mean is that most of your startup’s early adopters are, in general curious about trying out new things – they are interested in new technology, new ways of doing things.

Being Brave: What does being brave really mean?

Wells up lots people often tend to look at changing their habit or behavior as a very risky thing to do- for example if I am used to going to airport using my car or I have a very standard cab vendor, why would I risk taking up an Ola or an Uber?

But then, if I am an early adopter I would be brave enough to try out the new products.

Maybe in some cases it will work, in some cases it won’t!

I’ll give an example: A few years back (~2017, I believe), I went out with my family to a restaurant and came across this funky app that enabled us to order food, directly from the app instead of talking to to the waiter. Well, I was quite intrigued by it and remember this was around 2017-18 – I went ahead and ordered the food from the app.

Everything was messed up. We ordered X, got Y. Finally, I looked at the hard copy of menu and realized that there was this serious issue of id mismatch!
I was an early adopter, but my family didn’t spare me from that 🙂

Early adopters are brave enough to try out random products, knowing that most won’t work as-expected. It’s the thrill that matters to them.

Find people who have similar problem statements.

Instead of shooting in the dark, we need to really find out the ones who have a problem statement that the product can solve.

For instance, if you are launching a Clubhouse clone, look at pockets where there are people who want to connect with others. They are not too touched by Clubhouse and yet are brave enough to try out a new product. How about say, a network of MBA/Engg college students who want to connect with their seniors and really figure out job / career prospects (especially in the times of Covid)?

You get the drift, right?

Now that we have defined the early adopters, let’s figure out where you find them and how do you bring them to your product.

Where do I find my early adopters?

Simply put, you gotta be where they are.

Do not run ads. Do not run paid campaigns in the early days. Get off your comfort zone and be where your potential early adopters are.

A lot many founders / product teams often hide behind the world of paid ads, PR etc. In the early days, I’d rather say that be the face of your product.

Face all the rejections, questions and even indifference (helps in your entrepreneurial journey).

How Tinder did it.

In order to get early users to the product, Tinder cofounder, Whitney Wolfe printed a few thousand flyers and paid students $20 to help her put it on car windshields, hand it to people and throw it into dorm mailboxes.

Whitney Wolfe, Tinder and Bumbl Cofounder

She repeated that process with several universities. That process got her around 300 users. One week later the number increased to 1.000 (via).

That is, fish where the fishes are.

That’s the shortest path to find early adopters of your product.

This is how Ola did it

Ola founder, Bhavish stood outside the NextBigWhat’s UnPluggd conference venue in Pune to get early adopters to the product. He knew that a lot of people came from Mumbai to Pune for the conference and would like to go back same day.

Being at the right time, right place will help him connect with the right early adopters.

You gotta fish where the fishes are !

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