Finding my first 5 users

16 August 2021

Since starting the challenge I’ve done everything to not fall into the trap of building something without talking to users. In fact, I’ve had to consciously will myself from not jumping into my IDE prematurely. The good news is that the struggle looks to have paid off — I’ve validated my idea and found my first 5 users!

Here’s the backstory. I mentioned last week that I was going to try setting up calls with potential users. I didn’t realise how hard it is to actually get someone on a call though. First you have to email them, hope they get back to you, then you have to spark a back and forth and finally make the ask to jump on a call.

I have two observations from this process:

  1. Often a call isn’t even needed. If you migrate from email to text, you can get back rapid fire answers to your questions and have a conversation in a matter of minutes. If you make the ask to jump on a call you potentially risk frightening the person and not getting anything.
  2. Twitter DM’s are far superior to email. I sent out 92 emails and got back 13 responses. That’s a reply rate of 14%. However on Twitter, I sent out 68 DM’s and got back 20 responses, that’s a reply rate of 29%! Using Twitter doubled my chances of getting a response back, that’s insane. Someone should build a tool for using Twitter as a sales channel ;)

In total I reached out to 160 people and whittled that down to 5 who 'seemingly' really want what I’m building. I say seemingly because until they’re paying for the product with cold hard cash, nothing counts. That being said, they all have the same problem and are willing to invest their time in helping me shape the product to fill their needs. The fact that they’re willing to do that is a signal to me that there’s definitely something here.

So I’m going to be building the product for these 5 people. They’re passionate about the problem and have already given me great insights. At some point I hope (assume) that they’ll become paid customers. Once that happens I’ll scale the product to more users.

I think for B2B saas, I can grow to at minimum 1000 customers just by doing direct sales. It’s sucky and far less sexy than something like content marketing, but there’s so much value in reaching out directly to customers. You learn how to message and position your product, but more than that, you also learn exactly what the customer needs.

Plan for next week

I’m going to pause all of my cold outreach efforts. Now that I’ve found my core 5 users I’m going to start building! I think I have a pretty clear idea of what’s needed to solve their problems. However I’ll still run all my changes and features past them for extra refinement.

On the personal side I stopped exercising and going to gym over the past few weeks. I really regret it now but I told myself that I’ll get back once I’ve picked and validated an idea. And now I have, so I’m out of excuses. I think for me it’s ultra important to try to get good sleep and exercise all while eating right. Failure to do so makes me feel terrible. And feeling terrible isn’t worth it even if it means I’m more productive (which I’m not convinced I am).

And that’s it for this week,

PS: If you’re not already subscribed to get the weekly updates, sign up using the form below. Alternatively follow me on Twitter (@ycparak)