Launch Your Startup: A Step-by-Step Guide On How To Get 1000 Users
03. June 2022
One of the main challenges a startup faces is gaining traction and getting its first users. It is often overlooked by a lot of startups who are confident that their product will be “the next big thing.” But to gain traction and get your first users as fast as possible, you need to have a valid strategy. Otherwise, you will have your product collecting virtual dust on your homepage or landing page, and you won’t be making any revenue from it.
For the last 2 years, I’ve been helping 30+ startups launch their startups and get their first users. I know what it feels like to be in a similar situation. However, with the knowledge I gained from my experiences, I want to share the strategies you should use when planning how to get your first customers.
In this post, I’ll describe the step-by-step strategy to get your first users and launch your startup.
Start from day 1
That’s super important! It would be best if you didn’t wait until your product is ready to start your marketing efforts. Two main reasons for that:
- Building a product always takes more time than planned, and, as a technical person, you will always want to delay the launch to “add just one more feature.”
- Marketing takes time to build. The sooner you start, the better!
As you don’t have any product yet, you’ll market all the other aspects of your startup: your vision, your purpose, your landing page, your expertise on the topic, etc.
That’s a unique period for you to build a community and show your expertise. That’s also when you should start building an audience if you haven’t one already. Getting your first users and talking with them will provide you with new and exciting insights that won’t be found in any market analysis or cohort studies.
Landing Page is your first asset.
As I said before, start from day 1 with a landing page! A landing page should be the first you make for your project.
Please keep it simple!
Start with a no-code tool like Weblfow or Carrd. This landing page should have two main goals:
- Describe your vision
- Collect information about people interested (it can be emails or, even better, credit card numbers!)
Work on the headline, try to make it crisp, and use the features spaces to describe your idea and how you want to implement your solution. If you can make some visuals or a demo video, it’s better! Make it as if your product already exists, and add a call to action to register to a waiting list or preorder the product.
That’s how you’ll get early validation from your audience!
Some users make “smoke screens.” They create a pricing page with fake buttons redirecting you to a waiting list. I prefer to create a proper preorder campaign, it’s super easy to do with Flurly, and you people pay for your product. It’s a great way to give you a motivation boost and to create a community from day1.
I wrote a blog post of all tools you need to start for free: How to build a startup with no money
What you DON’T NEED
Now that you know what you need to get started let’s tackle what you DON’T NEED. There are many myths about startup launching. My advice would be to start with the bare minimum and iterate from that.
1. Don’t incorporate
You only have an idea and a landing page for now. Please don’t start to complexify everything with some admin work. There is SO much to do before that. Of course, you’re going to need a company to get paid. But that will be later!
2. Don’t buy a logo
Logos and branding are nice, but you don’t need them now. Just use Canva and any color palette generator and build your logo yourself. It shouldn’t take you more than 30 min. You’ll think about being fancy later! Your primary focus, for now, should be to talk to users.
3. Don’t buy swag
All these things will disturb you from your main focus: validate your startup idea! I know swag is cool and all that, and it also helps for marketing. But you don’t need it right now. Same for business cards.you
4. Don’t look for investors (yet?)
You may need some money to build and grow your vision, but not yet. You’re still super early. You should prove that your idea can be sustainable and can grow and attract users. Then, you can go to investors and ask for money. Until then, be as lean as possible!
5. Don’t leave your job.
This one can be a bit more controversial, but my advice would be to not quit your job until: You add enough paying customers to be ramen-profitable OR you validated your idea with real-life metrics and raised some money from investors. Keep in mind that 90% of startups fail. You don’t want to be in a situation where you lose everything when this happens!
Now that we know what we need and what we don’t need let’s get started!
Define your target audience
Defining your target customers is essential for your startup’s launch strategy. It will define whom you should talk to and help you determine which communities/places you should go to. My favorite method to do it is to define your customer avatar.
To help you define this persona, you should answer these questions:
- What’s their gender?
- What’s their age?
- What is their income?
- Where are they located?
- What’s their job title?
Once you have an overview of your target customers, let’s go deeper into why and how they will interact with your product:
- Where do they hang out online? What are the communities where you can find them?
- What were they looking for? What are their pain points?
- Is your startup resolving its issues?
- How did they feel once they purchased your products?
- Why were they feeling that way? Should they feel different?
These questions may sound obvious, but this exercise will help you refine your target and offer and prioritize your product roadmap. That’s a step you can’t miss when launching a new startup!
The first 10 users:
Friends, family, and close network
When you’re launching a new startup, the first thing you should do is to tell everyone you know! It can be your friends, your family, and your close network. Show them the product, ask for feedback and learn from it!
Beta oriented listing
There are a few directories out there that are focused on beta-stage products. These communities are usually super friendly. It’s a great way to remove the most obvious bugs and add some polish before the launch! That’s a great way to get your first users even before launching the product officially. A list of the most famous beta oriented startup directories:
From 10 to 100 users:
Post to Startup Directories
There is plenty of startup directories out there, more than 100. It takes time to post to all these directories, but that’s an easy win! Some major directories like G2, CapTerra, and AngelList, for instance, have a ton of traffic and will help you with your SEO. If you don’t want to submit to all these startup directories by yourself, you can pay for a “do-for-you-service”
Leverage online communities
That’s where the customer persona that we build earlier will be helpful. If you did it correctly, you should know already where your potential users are hanging out online. The strategy is pretty easy: go there, make friends, help the communities and eventually show your product. I personally like Reddit for this. There are many communities in there and many ways to get users. I wrote a blog post about how you can launch your startup using Reddit as a startup founder. Also, if you want a list of communities where you can post your startup, check this: Communities for startups you possibly don’t know about
It can be Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. But creating an audience for these social media will help you get attention. If you share your expertise about the problem you’re solving, people will check your product and become users! That’s something you should probably start from day one and never stop! Try them all, but focus on the one that works for now!
Road to 1000 users:
Start working on your SEO
SEO takes a lot of time and effort. That’s why I don’t recommend starting it from day 1. But as soon as you start to get some traction, you should definitely start improving your SEO and build a blog to improve your ranking and share your expertise. That’s a fantastic way to get free traffic and establish your branding!
Now that you have your first users and your first revenues, you can start to contact the press and share your story! (The official launch itself can be a good story!) Like SEO, PR is primordial, but it takes a lot of time. Try HARO. It’s a newsletter that will give all the PR opportunities three times a week!
If your startup is about tech or target developers, you should launch on HackerNews. It’s not easy as the moderation rules are strict (you can’t share the direct link to your post, for instance), but the traffic you can get if you hit the first page is incredible! I wrote a guide about how to launch your startup on HackerNews.
Quora is an underrated source of growth as Reddit. Quora is a place of people ask questions, and you can answer them. It’s the perfect place to be if you want to convince people that your solution is a great one to solve theirs. It’s hard to jump on the right questions tho. I recommend you to use some website that does it for you: https://www.qapop.com
Recycle your content for more social media
To get the first 100 users, I told you to focus only on one social media (the one with the best results). Now is the time when you should do more than that! Every new content that you create on your blog, for instance, should be recycled to as much format as you can.
- A blog post can be transformed into:
- A Twitter thread
- A LinkedIn post
- A Facebook post
- An Instagram post
- A Tiktok?
- A Medium post
- A Reddit article etc. Creating content is super hard. A good strategy to reduce that burden is to spread every piece of content all over the internet. You’ll maximize your impact!
I assume that you already iterated a lot on your startup to get your 100+ first users. Try to include some features in your product that incentive people to share your product or invite their friends. That’s a great way to grow your user base without too much effort. And it should scale easily!
Launch on ProductHunt
Launching on ProductHunt is always super important for a startup. If your launch is good, you will get a boost of exposure and traffic and even some press coverage. In my opinion, you should wait to have more than 100 users to launch. That’s the best way to get massive support and end in the top 3! Don’t overthink it, but you should definitely prepare it! Check the guide I wrote about launching your startup on Product Hunt.
The overall strategy
To get your first 1000 users, you need to launch. A lot. And often.
The more you launch, the better your chances of getting users that love your product and will be loyal to it.
The first version of your product should never be perfect. It should just be enough to show the world what you have in mind and get feedback from users who will help you improve it!
When you have something ready, don’t hesitate to launch it as soon as possible – even releasing a beta version or getting some friends to try it out for free (with an email sign-up). Startups shouldn’t wait for their product to be perfect before launching it – there’s no such thing as perfect when starting out!
When you have your first version, submit it to startup directories. You don’t need a fully functional product for this step. It’s better if it isn’t fully functional yet so that people will give you feedback on what they like and don’t like about it.
Launching to communities on a regular basis is really the key here. Start with the small ones and move up until you reach more significant communities like Product Hunt or Hacker News. Get feedback, iterate on your solution, and then launch again to a bigger community.
This strategy has two main advantages:
- You get constant feedback from your users to iterate faster.
- You keep the momentum going, and that’s the best way to improve constantly your product and your marketing.
Launching a startup is challenging. Getting your product noticed in the avalanche of other new apps and services vying for user attention takes time, effort, and ingenuity. But this guide will give you a sense of the steps that you need to take to launch on different platforms. I hope these strategies have given you some ideas for getting your product seen by others. With all of these strategies, it’s essential to launch quickly and iterate fast to get you those precious users you need for your startup. The key is getting that first batch – now you know where to find them! Getting the first 1000 users is hard, but once you have them, it will be easier to get the next 3000, and so on.
Most business owners have heard of the typical startup advice: have a good product, create a landing page, etc. But what the majority of them don’t know is that they can leverage their articles to drive traffic directly to your landing page and achieve this feat in half the time it would take them to do on their own.
In conclusion, the best way to get your 1000 first users is to put yourself about, find places where your users are, and start selling your product as fast as possible. If you have a specific target of who your initial users will be, it will be very helpful.
I hope some of these tips will help you out, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter.