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Recommendations for finding quality beta users who are at the executive/manager level?

As my startup, UpdateZen, is finally in beta, we are now looking for optimal beta users. What makes our task difficult is that we need executives and managers (senior people) to participate in our beta. Most 'beta user acquisition' sites are geared toward junior people in the consumer space. We need experienced people in the B2B/SaaS/Enterprise/Productivity space.

Any guidance for which websites might be a good place to connect with our target beta user would be greatly appreciated.

8 Replies

Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
are you beta users different than your customers (future customers)?
Paul Ruderman
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Paul Ruderman Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO, UpdateZen (www.updatezen.com)
Perhaps, not sure. We're casting a wide net of any kinds of executives/managers for our beta. But I have a strong suspicion that feedback from our beta users will lead us to focus more intently in a particular niche of executive/manager and company type. I just don't know what that niche will be just yet.

Make sense?
Ian McLean
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Ian McLean Entrepreneur
Developing Startup Grunt, Tech Co-Founder
If you think there is any value in it for managing development teams I'm happy to try and evaluate it from that angle.
Gourab Nanda
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Gourab Nanda Entrepreneur
Founder at VendorFit.com, Certified Scrum & Agile Trainer
There are quite a few companies that help in getting beta users. The one we have tried is https://erlibird.com/ . I was really happy with their service. Betabound.com also seems good. They have a free and paid full service version.
Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
At the risk of stating the obvious your processes for connecting with beta users should be the same as you have planned (already tested?) to connect with future customers which is the same as you used to test your product/market fit. Have you identified your ideal prospects (profile/title/industry/role)? Part of your product/market fit exercises should be testing where and how you will reach them. If not done yet this will be the next best opportunity to test those processes/assumptions. It looks like your product might be applicable across a wide swath of "executives". I would narrow the focus for now to a niche or 2 that you know well and go talk to execs you already know or companies you already have relationships with. Consider defining a pitch to work through their admin/assistants - they are likely the ones in charge of consolidating the status updates now and if the subject matter relates to streamlining status updates his/her admin will have her/his ear. When you do talk with execs ask them what their preferred method for reviewing/testing/buying products/services like your is. i can tell you from personal experience that this is something i would likely ask my assistant to look into first - if it doesn't work for her/him (i.e. easy to learn and implement) then it's not likely that my team members will be too excited to learn/implement. Do you see this an an "enterprise" sale? i.e. implemented at the corp level for all execs and supported by IT or ??
Paul Ruderman
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Paul Ruderman Entrepreneur • Advisor
Founder & CEO, UpdateZen (www.updatezen.com)
Hi Rob, all good points and good questions. Yes, I validated this early and often, before, and then during/throughout the design and development process, and now as we're in beta, I'm obviously bringing in my network of executives, but need to now bring in people beyond my network... more objective executives. I'm starting to, and it's working nicely, but I need to extend more. It's tough, because very few execs are willing to be beta testers, and yet that's what I need. That said, there is already great value as the product stands now for executives to use with their direct reports. I get what you're saying about exec assistants, but the irony here is that UpdateZen will likely displace the duty of consolidating status updates from direct reports to present to the executive. So I'm not circumventing the admins, but in a way, I'll be displacing this one responsibility of theirs.

In short, I need to find execs who are willing and even eager to be early adopters. I know, tall order ahead. But that's what I'm tackling now.

Rob Gropper
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Rob Gropper Entrepreneur
Director at PetHero, SPC - Member at Eastside Incubator - Principal at Tuxedo Technologies Group
Paul; turn the potential displacement of one admin task into a positive. Talk to admins about what they like/don't like about their jobs. understand those issues specifically about your solution, i.e. 'what do you not like about status updates?". "if we could do this for you would that be a + or -?" In a former life as a robotics engineer i would get serious pushback from people who assumed they would be replaced by a robot. We always made sure we understood from management what would happen to those displaced by automation. In the vast majority of cases the individuals were transitioned into better roles / tasks. A short chat with, for example, a painter who stands in a 'moon suit' all day spraying toxic paint on trucks about the possibility of sitting at a desk and breathing clean air and supervising the robot their attitude changed quickly. Also, every time you connect with an exec or admin be sure to ask them for referrals to other execs and admins - nothing better than a warm referral to get past the gate keepers. Try both a top down and a bottom up approach to see which works better, i.e. top down: call on a 'C' level exec and convince them of your benefits - focus on the benefits that make money above those that save money (money making projects are always higher priority than those that reduce costs). You might consider looking for an industry vertical where safety or health issues or time sensitive financial issues drive decisions - i.e. if the boss doesn't get timely status updates then risk is increased, fines levied, deals go to competitors, etc. Top down: When the boss says we will try this new service then it's likely to get done - not always, but it's efficient from your perspective. Bottom up: find some pioneering young exec who wants to make a name and climb the ladder. Help him/her complete a successful pilot (does your product/service require support from corp IT?). then help him/her show off your solution higher up the food chain. Differentiate your service/product, again, by focusing on making money or safety or health rather than simply saving time or reducing hassle. my guess is that you need a stronger hook at the front of your 30 sec elevator pitch so i would go very narrow (vertical, i.e. M&A attorneys in large wall street firms or demolition construction teams, or SWAT teams, or emergency response teams, or ? ) and really understand their motivators. Then the next exec you call on you can zero in on their pain points immediately in the first 30 secs.
Ian McLean
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Ian McLean Entrepreneur
Developing Startup Grunt, Tech Co-Founder
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