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How do you find the right beta customers?

We've made an MVP of our product. Where are some good places or resources to post it to get users?

Basically, our V1.0 is done. We don't want to keep adding features until we know what users want. We are on the search for a business model. Where do we go from here?

We've so far just been posting to blogs, we did a Founder Dating interview, and we've been talking to our friends who have tried the site. But we need more exposure and people to try it. Does anyone have suggestions?

I guess what we are after is exposure so we can try this out to a wide variety of markets at once.

22 Replies

Tom Maiaroto
1
1
Tom Maiaroto Entrepreneur • Advisor
Full Stack Consultant
Interesting. Now I'm curious. How many people (here) have built an MVP without having a business model?

As far as promotion, I'd hit every social network (and run some ads, Twitter can be very cheap to run ads. I have created a blog post about running ads on the cheap on Twitter with high engagement).

I'd also try to get your site listed on beta list and feed my app and earlibird and product hunt and...the million other sites/directories out there.

Post on Hacker News (repeat posts when you have some insightful blog posts).

Ensure you do have a blog. Getting mindshare is important and it provides you with fresh content to link. Otherwise you'll come off like you're spamming everyone on all these outlets.

It takes a good bit of time to do all this. Manual labor unfortunately. You can automate some of it, though I always caution people about buying followers and automating things. Again, you have to watch out for coming across as being a spammer.

I'm always free and happy to discuss strategies and bounce ideas around!
And congrats on getting your MVP done! That's no easy feat.
Lalit Sarna
3
0
Lalit Sarna Entrepreneur • Advisor
Business & Technology Leader
@Tom when designing a new product I prefer customer development leading to MVP. I find this approach always leads to a MVP with a specific customer in mind.

However I have seen several folks build out a "MVP" to evaluate multiple markets for a fit. Though semantically speaking, I struggle with "viable" without a definition of who the customer is.

@Bob I usually like to build hypothesis around different types of customers and test each one separately to find a product market fit. This helps with targeted customer acquisition,it is capital efficient and minimizes distractions however it can take longer and lead to false maximums.

A perfectly valid approach is to throw significant amount of diverse traffic and see what sticks. If you have the capital and the bandwidth to analyse your data, then this approach may work too.

Hope this helps.
Philip Chang
1
0
Philip Chang Entrepreneur
Strategic Communications Consultant
@Lalit Agreed. It helps to have a process for testing the markets of your different customer types. Completing the process doesn't guarantee bottom line results, but you get some exposure, networking, find out about what's in those customer types heads, and have a sense of where more opportunities are.
Bob Graham
0
0
Bob Graham Entrepreneur
Engineering and Software
Hi everyone, thank you so much for your responses.

I've been involved in a project before where we spoke with customers about the idea and they thought it was cool. We built it and they still thought it was cool, just not cool enough to pay for. We of course had a couple of market segments identified this time, but we wanted to build a broader product so we could test multiple markets to find the one with the greatest pain that our software could solve.

We wanted to have the minimum feature set to get the software to do a specific, simple task really well. Something that we couldn't easily find elsewhere. Then we wanted to go to our proposed markets and see what they liked or didn't like about it.

Basically our hope was that they would start to use it as a solution to their problem but constantly give us feedback along the way.

Our problem now is that again, everyone seems interested but we are looking to maximize exposure so we don't find people who just think it's cool but we find the people who really, really need it. So far, I've been treating this as a sales process, just calling or emailing people whom I think could use it, explaining it and going from there.

But the approaches listed by Tom were very helpful. I am looking for more ideas like that.

Thank you everyone! Please keep the validation thoughts coming, as any ideas could help.
Bob Graham
0
0
Bob Graham Entrepreneur
Engineering and Software
Phillip, thank you, any thoughts on what that process should look like?
Steve Owens
0
0
Steve Owens Entrepreneur • Advisor
Finish Line - A Better Way for Small Companies to Develop Products
Go see a customer, demo it too him, and ask him if he will buy it. Focus on getting out of office and in front of customers. At this point, do not worry about cost of sales (COS) - but as you are doing this early selling, keep in mind that one day you are going to have to lower your COS. This is a good time to start thinking/learning about how you would do it for real, but until you have a product people will buy, don't worry too much about it. Regards, Steve Owens - Finish Line PDS A Better Way for Small Companies to Develop Products e | Steve.Owens@FinishLinePDS.com p | 603 880 8484 w | www.FinishLinePDS.com 94 River Rd | Hudson, NH | 03051 Click for Product Development White Papers ---- On Tue, 27 Jan 2015 19:03:31 -0500 Bob Graham<[removed to protect privacy]> wrote ---- FD:Discuss New Discussion on MVP is done. We are on the search for a business model. Where do we go from here? Started by Bob Graham Founder and Director, Airwaves Music. The University of British Columbia grad. We've made an MVP of our product. Where are some good places or resources to post it to get users? Basically, our V1.0 is done. We don't want to keep adding features until we know what users want. We are on the search for a business model. Where do we go from here? We've so far just been posting to blogs, we did a Founder Dating interview, and we've been talking to our friends who have tried the site. But we need more exposure and people to try it. Does anyone have suggestions? I guess what we are after is exposure so we can try this out to a wide variety of markets at once. Thanks! Bob Form Circle www.formcircle.com FOLLOW DISCUSSION or Reply Directly to this email to participate in the discussion Manage your email notifications
Sam McAfee
1
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Sam McAfee Advisor
Building Popup Incubators for Corporate Innovation Programs
@Bob, I don't want to sound rude here, but how could you have known what should be in the MVP without a business model? Is just a technical feasibility test? Normally, when we talk about MVPs it is for the purpose of learning, and that has to be preceded by a specific hypothesis about the customer or market. If you don't create a hypothesis first, how do you know if and what you are learning?

If I were you, I'd immediately get the team together and do a business model canvas. I wouldn't add another feature until you're sure about exactly what aspect of a potential business model you are building that feature for (ie. acquisition, retention, etc.), and then how you're going to measure it. Otherwise, you're very unlikely to find a good model fit until you've burned quite a lot of cash or time or both.

Just my $.02 and I'd be happy to chat about it further.
Axile Yazid Talout
0
0
Axile Yazid Talout Entrepreneur
Founder & CEO at CT Consulting Canada
@Bob, I kind of agree with Lalit here. It depends on the product you are building. You should find where your potential customers hang out and target them directly. Lets say for example you are building an HR software, you should connect with HR people and have them test your product.
When you say that "everyone thinks it is cool but no one would pay for it", I would say there is sometimes a way to make money out of free things (ex: Facebook, Google, Whatsapp...).
Monica Borrell
0
0
Monica Borrell Entrepreneur
CEO and Founder at Cardsmith
I found the book titled Traction very helpful in thinking through this problem myself.

It is MUCH harder to find a market for an innovative, wide-use product than to make an MVP for a known market and problem. However, the payoff has the potential to be much larger if you can pull it off.
Peter Jones [LION: li.blueoyster~@~gmail.com]
0
0
Peter Jones creates solutions for product USP, market messaging, team building, venture and other commercial capital
Big question:

Who are your customers?

Then you'll have some idea where to mention, and others can help direct you.

Another key question:

What other products might those customers "buy" or invest time in, and why would they choose your product in preference.

HTH,

Peter Jones
@innov8tor3
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