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How do founders go about setting up web services when they testing an idea (email, landing page)?

When you're interviewing customers, gathering information and testing your thesis of a new company, what kind of web presence do you hold? At what point are you making a landing page to prop up your idea? When and how will you get your new "company email address?"

7 Replies

Fabio Martins
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Fabio Martins Advisor
Partner at DeRose Method TriBeCa
Why wait?

From the moment you have a germ of an idea you can start to build a database of people who may be interested in your overall topic. NO sales, just useful information and newsletters, building a relationship so that later you can potentially monetize them.

Caitlin Bolnick
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Caitlin Bolnick Entrepreneur
Founding Team at VentureApp
You should absolutely get a landing page and way to capture data going sooner rather than later. There are some excellent resources out there for creating a basic landing page and of course there are plenty of CMS tools you can use to start out with. From there, you can A/B test to hone in on the best converting landing page and grow from there.
Jessica Magoch
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Jessica Magoch Entrepreneur
Sales doesn't have to be a dirty word. Get more clients without being icky, sleazy, or just plain annoying.
Check out Leadpages.net Quick easy landing pages with analytics, etc. $40 / month to start and they host everything .. you don't even need a domain, hosting, etc.
Trevor Grayson
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Trevor Grayson Entrepreneur
Software Developer at Hulu
Thank you all! Allow me to redirect. What I was unsuccessfully inquiring into was, pragmatically, what services do founders use in these initial stages? No doubt lead gen can start day one, but what service do founders start paying to set up their initial landing page (Leadpages.net is a good example, thanks Jessica) and for their email addresses? Do they prop up a corp webserver? their domain with a Google inbox? Do people just use their personal email addresses to interview potential customers in the early phases?

I'm actually a developer by profession, so it's not that I can't handle this situation. I'm just wondering what out of box solutions do founders use to test an idea before they are willing to put down the money to actually found a company?

Thanks for the responses!
Dimitry Rotstein
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Dimitry Rotstein Entrepreneur
Head of R&D at SafeZone
As for myself, I have a dedicated server, capable of hosting up to 4 domains, unlimited sub-domains and unlimited email addresses.
Whenever I want to start a new project or just to test an interesting idea, I simply go to that server and build me an MVP in a sub-domain specially created for this project (or just a sub-folder), and then start looking for customers. Yes, I prefer to have more than a demo or intro page - a complete working product with a single feature that takes no more than a few days to make. Of course, it does help that I'm a web developer myself :-)
A dedicated server is not the cheapest option, of course. Shared hosting works just as well (and costs pittance) - create one generic email under the primary domain and use a separate sub-folder for each project. In most cases, however, using your personal email shouldn't cause any problems too. If and when the idea is validated, you can always move the site to a separate domain and create dedicated emails and all that fluff.
Hope that answers your question.
Shyam Pillai
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Shyam Pillai Entrepreneur
Product Management and Engineering - Analytics Products
You could create a valid website with a blog, email newsletter, add-on surveys that talks to the problem that you are trying to solve, provide some level of consulting on that problem. Using this, you can gauge how your customers are interacting with your content and topic. Of course, you will have to figure out how to acquire customers to that blog. Once you launch, sticky followers could become your early adopters.
James T Szeto
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James T Szeto Advisor
Principal Consultant at Firehorse Solutions
Build a demo of your product/service. Create a youtube marketing video to build your product/service awareness. Integrate the video on the landing page.

Try weebly.com ($8/month) for a shared web hosting, then use surveymonkey google analytics and mailchimp.com to get feedback.

Of course your idea should be integrated with a marketing and branding plan to determine what metrics is good and what needs revision. This process may go through a circular and continued refinement.
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