First 100 Users

First 100 users of your startup are one of the hardest tasks to accomplish. Starting out, everyone feels the pain of going from zero to 100 customers. "The first milestone". Things will remain difficult if you don't know what you are doing. For example, if you have no marketing experience, things can get really complicated. With deadlines approaching and funds depleting, most startups end up spending their cash in the wrong place. Influencer marketing & online ads are one of the most effective ways to grab attention, but without a plan on hand, it's basically throwing away money. This blog post will take you through a system which outlines the tasks and ideas you can execute to get your first one hundred customers.  

Three Ways to Get First 100 Users

Ther are three ways to get the attention of users and make them care enough to signup to your product or app. You complete marketing efforts can be focused on one or two of these methods.
  1. Go where your ideal customers hang out
  2. Reach your ideal customers through 1st or 2nd-degree Network
  3. Attract ideal customers by creating an environment

The Underlying Principle to Get First 100 Users

For each of this method, the underlying principle remains the same. Do an activity or set of activities to bring yourself in front of as many potential customers as possible. Where and how you do these activities change for each method. Writing blogs, creating social media content, or hiring an influencer are a few examples. All to create awareness about your startup. Side note: If you haven't already, read Do things that don't scale by Paul Graham.  

Strategies Examples

visit niche events. handout flyers, coupon code, discountsConvince readers/users to share content on their social or group chatsCreate a waitlist
Take part in Forum discussionsDrop-in online newsletters or print publications*Allow signups in batches
Create social media contentSend users invites to shares among friendsBuild community. email or chat Newsletters. Forums
SEO & ASOCollaborate with Influencers

A Detailed Look into First 100 Users

An explanation of about each of these methods, and a few examples.
  1. Go You show up where the target customer can be usually found
    1. Go where people hang out online
    2. Go where people hang out offline
  2. Reach You influence people (existing customers, reader, followers etc) to spread your message to their friends
    1. Reach through Friends
    2. Contribute content
  3. Attract You create an environment which attracts people to you
    1. Create a waitlist. Allow signups in batches
    2. Build community through email or chat Newsletters, Forums

1.1 Go Where People Hang Out Online

Find communities online where niche topics are discussed. Sites like Reddit or Producthunt curate a group of people who are of similar interest.  

1.2 Go Where People Hang Out Offline

Attending events and webinars. Meet people are learning how your product can fit better in their life. Being in person with your target clients give you the opportunity to talk face to face. People are more open when talking in person. This opportunity can be used to get feedback for your offering. When Evan Spiegel was finding first few users for Snapchat, he'd go to malls and hand out flyers. Even so, he'd talk people's phone with their permission and download the app for them.  

2.1 Reach Through Friends for First 100 Users

People take advice more seriously when it's coming from their friends. This strategy works best when you already have an audience either following you or using your services. Design your services to make it easy for your users to share. encourage users by Incentivising them when they share on social or website.  

2.2 Contribute Content Before and After You Get First 100 Users

Guest posting. Attending podcasts as host. Featuring on the youtube channel. People have been building their audience for years now. Putting in hard work and time to gather an audience. Your job is to be authentic and real. Get a spot in their show and establish yourself as a person with a solution.  

3.1 Create a Waitlist; Allow Signups in Batches

Exclusivity. FOMO. First in Line. These tricks have been used by companies to make customers feel special. Most startups do the mistake of launching the product with complete access to all users. When you launch your product with a waitlist, the anticipation level is much higher. This drive better conversion rate than an open for all launch. The SAP technique is used to write jokes in the world of startup.
  • Set up - Create a scenario
  • Anticipate - Build up-tempo and create a feeling of excitement
  • Punch line - Deliver the satisfaction
Same goes for Waitlist. Start by setting up your marketing channels to create a picture of what the end result isgoing to look like. Move on to create anticipation. Have you seen anticipation emails or tweets like these?
  • "15 spots left"
  • "Last call. Gates to waitlist close in 1 hour"
  • "50% discount for the next 10 purchases"
All these tactics work because they create a sensation and curiosity.  

3.2 Build Community Through Newsletters and Forums

Creating a community of hardcore core fans is nothing less of a gold mine! Email newsletters are one of the best ways to get in front of a huge audience. The difference between newsletter and blog is the intent of click. Blog have less intent to be opened by the same user. There are many blogs out there with the same content. However, it is different for newsletters. Newsletters have a much deeper contract. If you have 500 sign up for your email, you can assume about 80-90% of your audience will read what you've sent. Featuring a small line about your product in a guest Newsletter will give higher returns than placing ads on social media. In the past 6 months, Whatsapp and Telegram based newsletter are popping up. Similar to an email newsletter, but served on a messaging platform.  

The Parallel Work While You Get First 100 Users

Getting First few customers requires a lot of groundwork and hustle from the founding team. Some plan years in advance by creating an audience of loyal fans and admirer. While others get their hands dirty when the time comes. Every tip and suggestion listed in this article can be taken as a task list. But when looking at the big picture, you'll find there are also a few works that need to be done in parallel. Let's take the example of Mike and Sally. Both started their startup and got their first hundred customers. But with a tiny difference. Mike, when he started his startup, went door to door. Attended every event of his niche. Handed out discount code and flyers to everyone he met. After working tirelessly, he managed to get his first 100 customers within a few weeks. His hustle was worth it. Sally, on the other hand, had a card up her sleeve. 3 years before even working on her startup, she started posting her thoughts on social media. She would write a blog on every post which worked really well. After amassing an engaging audience, she started a newsletter and updated her audience every time she had a new blog. When the time came to get customers for her startup, she leveraged the audience she built. Posted on social media. Wrote a blog post. Share the link in her newsletter. Her hustle was worth it.   Both Mike and Sally had customers for their startups. But one worked a little every day for years, while the other worked tirelessly in a short span of weeks. Having a personal brand will always remain the best strategy for anyone.  


The pain of growing from 0-100 can be minimised if a plan is adopted. Focusing on not more than 2 platforms and strategies will keep the plan in control. It's also important to remember that running though such a plan once will not be enough. In most cases, plans like these have to be improvised and executed multiple time.   This blog post has offered you a system with tasks and ideas for you get your first 100 customers. If this article was helpful, check out Intandemly which helps startups like yours get into targeted accounts. Click here for a demo and here for a free signup

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