On early adopters

In the life of a startup, nothing trumps getting as much early revenue as possible. Among other things, it boosts the confidence of the founders. However, getting the first set of users – what we all call early adopters – seem to be a daunting task for most startups, especially those trying to create something largely new in the market.

After thinking about some early activities we had with 1Plify even before we launched publicly, I realized that it’s easier and cheaper to pitch to people who are already interested in your product or service or those people who are already feeling the pain of being without a product such as yours.

In the last 24 months, I have pitched hundreds of times to all kinds of people in Africa, Middle East and Asia and matching the patterns together, the trend remains the same. Some people just won’t see a need for your product. Some will see the need, but are just not ready to make the switch. The other segment of the market are those who are already somehow anticipating a product or service like the one you’re pitching. Those pitches won’t last as long as the other types. In my experience, sometimes, it takes just 3 minutes or less infact, to close the deal.

The idea therefore is that startups need to focus their energy and resources on these type of people. First it is important to identify who they are, where they are and the easiest (and cheapest) way to approach them. Once you have this figured out, and execute wisely you’ll see the money flowing in. Then, every other thing can follow.

These people already believe in what you’re trying to create. They are even willing to experiment with you in some cases; and most importantly, they are willing to commit themselves financially (no matter how small). So, find them and focus on them. I really feel one of the most important roles of every startup founder is defining who these segment of the market are and going after them. Beyond every other thing.

At 1Plify, we have closed more deals with these people than trying to convince “laggards” about the importance of our services. Asides that, the cost of acquisition is also insanely cheaper. We used fewer saliva :-), wrote fewer and shorter emails or phone calls, but converted them faster. Obviously, that’s the way to go…

While it is important to capture millions of customers, the first 10, 100, 1000 are the most crucial in the early days.

Technopreneur. Chief Hustler at 1Plify. PhD scholar [Technology entrepreneurship]

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