This is the moment you’ve dreamed about. Your product is finished. Your friends and first testers are happy and it’s ready to release.
All those eager users you imagined aren’t showing up. What’s next?
Over the past few months, I’ve been collecting sources, tools and guides to answer this question. And here is the essence:
You don’t need deep pockets or VC money to get early-stage traction for your startup.
0. Use Startup Growth Kit
Startup Growth Kit — is a curated collection of Notion docs, lists, templates and step-by-step checklist to get your first 1000 (or maybe 10,000) early adopters.
One reason not to buy this:
1. You can find all the information yourself and create your own checklist (spending only hundreds of hours 😏).
1. The rise of the Human-Centric CEO
A friend recently sent me the classic blog post, “Peacetime/Wartime CEO” by Ben Horowitz. In it, Horowitz outlines a dichotomy between CEOs who thrive in times of peace, by fostering creativity, and those who thrive in times of crisis, by moving fast.
But it just didn’t sit right with me. He advocates for ruling like a dictator in times of “war.” But that just isn’t as effective. This post sums up why that view is dated, and the kind of leaders we really need right now.
2. How the biggest apps got their first 1,000 users
Awesome compilation of the strategies used by the top consumer apps (although it’s a stretch to call Buffer and Slack consumer) to get initial traction. He also includes the specific stories for each company. Interestingly he was able to group them all into just 7 strategies, and most of the companies only used one.
3. 17 tips for great copywriting
Excellent compilation of super practical copywriting tips from the folks (folk?) over at Marketing Examples. If you aren’t following them, you totally should be.
4. How to throw a retreat for your remote team
Podia was already a remote team before Covid happened, but they had to cancel their in-person retreat. They replaced it with a remote retreat and Len Markidan shared how they did it. My friend Nigel recently tried this as well and got a lot out of it.
The most fun ideas:
- Splitting your team into smaller groups to play Jackbox games over Zoom
- Using Cameo to book Stanley from the office for the “Keynote address”
- Throwing a GIF party to learn about team members
5. To make your content succeed, focus on the amplifiers
A lot of conventional wisdom around content marketing says that you should focus your effort on bottom of the funnel content. That is, write for the people most likely to buy from you.
Here, Rand Fishkin argues that doing that will make your audience feel like you’re selling constantly. Instead you should write most of your content for potential amplifiers (or influencers). I think the truth is, you need to do both. Which is hard.
6. How to make millions by writing online
I enjoyed this interview with Sam Parr of the Hustle even if his advice on how to grow your audience is basically just to “Write well.” Luckily, he does go into more detail later on.
This episode got me listening the Hustle’s podcast. In it, Sam and Shaan Puri (an exec at Twitch) basically just riff for an hour on news and business ideas. They’re both blunt as hell and very entertaining to listen to, even
7. How do content creators make money?
If you want to understand consumer trends, I highly recommend following Blake Robbins. He’s an investor with Ludlow Capital, and is one of the few startup people I see actively studying YouTube and eSports.
Here he breaks down the main ways creators make money. It seems like there is a ton of opportunity for improvements here.
Getting your first customers will always be one of the most difficult part of your startup journey. However, if you focus on the delivering quality value to a specific audience, you’ll be setting yourself up for the best chance at success. In summary, good focus points are:
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