The difficult business of getting the first 50 pre-launch registered users for a startup

They say creating a service or product is the easiest part of starting a business. Getting the first few people to use or purchase your product is where the tough work really starts. And it really does not matter whether your product is free or not. You may be wondering how could it possibly be difficult to get someone to use your product if you are giving it away for free. There are many reasons this is possible. For example, it could be that your product does not solve a problem or pain point that potential customers have. If you are making a product that has no potential customer, then you shouldn't be surprised that you can't find people to even try your product, right? And if you are doing things the old-fashioned way of hiding in your room, spending months or years creating a product that you think people will need and then hoping that since your product is good, customers will beat a path to your door then you need to wake up to reality. Those days are over, but thanks to new ideas like the lean startup methodology there is hope for those willing to adapt to the new situation. 
The only micro-jobs site where you can post you jobs in English, Russian, German, Spanish, French, Arabic and Polish
These days it's so easy to find out what people need before you waste your time creating a product that even your Mum, who loves everything you do, might not even want to try. With technology literally at your finger tips via your mobile device of choice, it's a matter of reaching out to people and asking questions and then waiting for responses to come in. If you ask the right questions to the right people, you will be surprised how quickly you will discover that the great idea you had is not so great after all, which is good because you will not waste time working on something that is not needed. Time is a precious, non-renewable resource which should not be wasted, right?
If you still have no idea why I am telling you all this, I guess I have to start from the beginning. For almost a year we have been working on Galilea3, which is a marketplace for creative people with skills that they can monetise online. It's a place where buyers and sellers can communicate in 7 different languages (English, Spanish, German, Russian, French, Arabic and Polish), which means language barriers are reduced to the minimum. Both sellers and buyers can increase their reach to places and communities they previously had no access to. Sounds like a very useful platform, right? You would think finding people eager to use the service would be easy, but that's not true. Believe me, I tried and I am talking from experience here. Even getting your closest friends to check out your idea is tough, but that's again probably because they are usually not the target customer and they don't see the sense in even trying your product. This can sometimes cause a budding entrepreneur to give up. But, not me. :-) I had to find ways to get some eyeballs on my service. 
Building the mousetraps:
So like most tech-savvy founders I took the follow steps to get pre-launch users for our startup:
  • After reading a lot of interesting posts on the topic of creating explainer videos, such as this one by Neil Patel , I created the Galilea3 explainer video, which you can find here 
  • I then read a lot of blog posts about creating landing pages, such as the "Perfect Landing Page Recipe"  by Oli Gardner the founder of Unbounce, one of the best guys in the landing page business. The ideas was to put together a landing page for Galilea3  to capture some emails and create a mailing list to engage with and source ideas about features that potential customers would be interested in. 
  • I then created this Facebook page for Galilea3  using some awesome tips by Amy Poterfield on this Social Media Examanier podcast . Now that it is so hard to reach anyone on Facebook organically, I started wondering whether I would get any value from this page in the future. But this interview of Jay Baer and Mari Smith gave me some hope.
Here is how I experimented with traps 
Catch 1 - Friends and Family
After building my proverbial mousetraps, I contacted friends and family and literally forced them to have a look at my traps and let me know what they think. By forcing them to take a look, I mean that I posted links directly on their timelines. I was silently hoping that some of them would register and maybe forward some links to their own friends and get the whole thing rolling. Any kind of feedback was welcome. However, the results were quite disappointing. I got 5 registrations out of my hundreds of so-called friends. :-) My target was something like 50 people.
Catch 2 - Facebook Boosted Posts
We all know how difficult it is these days to reach anyone on Facebook without parting with some dollars. If you haven't heard, organic reach has been reduced to the bare minimum possible on this platform (around 10%, if I am not mistake). Mike Allton, founder of the Social Media Hat, has a few words to say about this Facebook advertising in this interesting post, if you have time to read. To cut a long story short, I paid to boost the blog post "You need to read this if you are a marketer." The hope was that some marketers would reach out to us, some people would visit the landing page and watch the explainer video, while a fraction of them would register on the landing page. I know the targeting was on the poor side, but even results from a poorly targeted campaign can tell an interesting story. And they did. We got 19 new people on our list. Not exactly what I expected, so the experiment went to the next stage.
Catch 3 - Beta List - The biggest catch of them all
I am sure you have noticed from the story so far, that getting the first 50 people to register for a startup requires a quite bit of hustling. It's not surprising that some clever people saw the opportunity and created platforms that make the task of getting eyeballs on brand new startups much easier. One such platform is Beta List. I discovered them via the "Pre-launch email list building directories" blog post and decided to give them a try. It's free to submit your startup to Betali List, but I decided to go with the paid version as I was in a bit of a hurry. Beta List claims to have a big following of the early-adopter type. That's exactly the kind of people I was looking for, so I didn't need much convincing to pay the $49 dollars required to speed up things. I submitted my startup Galilea3, gave to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and then waited for some action. Marc Köhlbrugge, the founder of Beta List, responded very quickly and informed me that our submission had been reviewed and had been scheduled to be published within 24 hours. And true to his word, within 24 hours Galilea3 was published here. Less than a day after being published we had 40 new people registered. Isn't that cool? I have got a lot of love for Beta List. If you are trying to get people to register on the pre-launch list of your startup in order to get useful feedback or to just get some eyeballs on your great startup, you should give Beta List a try.

Those who were paying attention should know that my target was to get at least 50 registered users to get some feedback from. Beta List helped me to go above that in a really short period of time. At the moment we have a few hundred people from 40 different countries registered and the number keeps rising everyday. Now that I have people waiting for updates regarding the progress of Galilea3, I have to start engaging with them. So do not be surprised if you, won't hear from me for some time. I have got stuff to find out from my list. After all, they say the money is in the list, right? However, you can always visit me and check out Galilea3, if you miss me. :-) Of course, I will be back with another story when we hit the 1000 registrations milestone. 
If you are the gig buyer or seller kind of guy, join the Galilea3 mailing list below and we will keep you in the loop regarding how things are going. Peace. :-)




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One last question request. I would love to hear your stories about how you got the first person on your mailing list for your blog or startup or whatever it is that you are doing.
Churchill Madyavanhu
Churchill Madyavanhu
Co-founder of An Engineer, Marketing graduate, teacher, vocalist and blogger, among other things. Churchill loves all things opensource, especially Drupal, Linux and PHP. He blogs about productivity apps, tips and parenting as well as any time saving tips and tricks at Follow Churchill on Twitter to learn more about the best productivity tools and tips 


Mon, 20 Jan 2014