This post was originally published on ribl.co.
Ribl surpassed the 100-download mark on Google Play last week!
While this clearly isn’t a huge number, everyone has to start somewhere. And a company’s first 100 users are extremely important, as these will be the early adopters from which you can learn a lot and who will hopefully spread the word to other potential users. They’re the lifeblood of an early-stage startup.
So we thought now would be a good time to reflect on what we’ve done to acquire these first 100 users and what we can do to get to 1000, 10,000, 100,000, and one million riblers and beyond.
How we got our first 100 users
Leverage personal networks
Your first users should be your family, friends, and colleagues who fit into your target customer segment. They all love you (I hope!), and they’ll support you in your endeavors, so don’t be shy and just ask them to download and try your app.
Email or call them to catch up on life, then let them know about what you’re working on and have them download your app. Ask them to use it for a week and get feedback about what they liked and didn’t like, and how the app can be improved. They’ll be happy to help you out!
Approximately half of current riblers and people on our iOS testers list are friends and family. We’ll be certain to continue to reach out to our personal connections to grow our user base.
Blogging and social media
I hope you find these blog posts about our journey interesting! Blogging is a great way to communicate all that we’re learning and keep you updated on our progress with ribl, and it’s helped us garner a bunch of users as well.
We’ve been sending our blog posts via email to our mailing list (which has about 400 subscribers; scroll to the end of this post to join!), and we’ll continue to grow this list. Direct access to subscribers’ inboxes is a powerful thing and gives us a way to stay in touch with our users.
Distribution and promotion of our content to social networks has also been extremely valuable. We have over 10,000 combined friends and followers across Facebook and Twitter, which have been great channels to acquire users. We’ll certainly continue to leverage these connections to grow the number of downloads.
Also, posting our articles to LinkedIn and Medium has been really helpful. LinkedIn has really stepped up its content distribution game, and articles that we publish there are easily found by our professional connections. Many users of Medium are tech-centric and early adopters, so that’s a great place to publish content as well. Publishing on these sites will help drive potential users to our website and app store landing pages, where we can convert and convince them to download.
Blogging and social media have accounted for about 25% of current riblers, and these channels will be really important for our growth in the future.
Attending and presenting at events has surely helped us spread the ribl gospel. Events are a great way to connect with potential users face-to-face and pitch our startup.
We’ve demoed ribl at events like TechBreakfast and SXSW and have attended many Meetups and other gatherings to promote ribl to the crowd. At these events, we received immediate feedback on our app and even acquired users right then and there.
About a quarter of riblers are people whom we’ve met or promoted the app to at events, and we’re sure the number of users we acquire from attending events will grow.
How we’ll get to 1000 users and beyond
While it’s not a direct user acquisition channel, customer development is the foundation of our product development process and will help us build a product that people love, which in turn will drive downloads.
We’ve had over 100 interviews and conversations with current and potential users about ribl, amassing extremely valuable feedback along the way (you can read about some of the early feedback here). Now that our user base is growing, we have a larger sample size from whom to learn much more about the direction we need to take our product to reach future user milestones.
Reaching product/market fit is critical for an early stage startup, and customer development is absolutely imperative to learning about what your users need and what problems your app solves for them. We’re not close to achieving product/market fit yet, but a consistent process of learning from our customers will get us there.
Launch on iPhone
For a number of reasons, we decided to launch on Android first. But we’re working hard on building ribl for iPhone now.
According to the latest statistics, even though Android dominates global smartphone market share, iOS is right up there with Android in the US. So obviously we want to move fast to get a piece of the iPhone pie.
We have about 100 people on our list of iPhone testers who are ready and willing to share and discover everything happening locally. Not only will that directly grow our user base, it will also give us a larger audience to learn from via customer development, and more and more people will hopefully spread the word about ribl.
A test version of ribl for iPhone will be coming in a couple of weeks, so if you’re interested in helping us test it, please fill out this form. We appreciate it!
Features that allow users to share to other social networks are going to be really important for us to get ribl to go viral, so we’re working on implementing these into the app.
The first sharing feature we’re developing will allow you to share stories that you create in ribl to other social networks like Twitter and Facebook.
We’ll also give you the ability to share other ribler’s stories to social networks.
Finally, you’ll also be able to ask your friends and social connections to download ribl so they can join in on sharing and discovering what’s happening around them.
These sharing features are going to create a viral loop that will help grow the number of riblers and make the ribl community that much stronger.
Local online communities and publications
Local online communities are a largely untapped source of downloads for us, and we’ve just started engaging on these sites to learn more about and connect with these potential users.
Reddit is a site where users are really active in posting and discussing articles and news, and these are the types of people who would be great riblers. The users of local subreddits, such as r/WashingtonDC, who post and talk about happenings in the cities where they live, are absolutely perfect for ribl.
Local blogs can be another great source of riblers. There are some excellent city blogs such as Prince of Petworth who encourage users to submit tips about local happenings, and the site will then publish stories based on these submissions. These readers would be amazing riblers and can help populate our platform with timely, information posts about what’s happening in their local area.
Becoming more active on the above sites, as well as Facebook and Google+ groups and other online communities, should help us grow our user base in the future.
Getting to 100 users is a nice early milestone, but the journey is just beginning.
Reaching out to personal networks, blogging and distributing via social media, and presenting and promoting ribl at events helped us garner our initial userbase, and we’ll continue to leverage these channels.
Getting to 1000 users will be tougher. There are so many channels to acquire customers and we’ll certainly experiment with them, but in the short term, we’ll concentrate on improving our product, launching on iOS, incorporating sharing features, and engaging on local online communities to grow the number of riblers.
And we’ll be sure to let you know what works and what doesn’t in future blog posts.
What do you think about how we got our first 100 users and how we’ll get to 1000 and beyond? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
And if you haven’t downloaded the Android version of ribl, please do so by clicking here!
Photo courtesy of themobilists.com