How to Get Your First 100 Customers—Smart, Actionable Advice from Top Executives

October 28, 2020

So you’ve got an incredible product, an amazing team, and a strong vision for the future. There’s just one tiny problem: You don’t have any customers.

Going from zero to 100 users is a huge milestone for startups, and we know it can sometimes be really tough to get there. That’s why we asked some of the top executives in the OpenView network to share their best advice for getting those first 100 folks in the door. Here’s what they had to say:

“Look through the lens of the customer experience from start to finish. Collect data and examine the patterns in those first users to see if you can develop a hypothesis to test repeatability. It’s never too early to track lead source and pipeline funnel. Understand not just why customers are buying but more importantly, why they are not.”
–Leandra Fishman, VP Growth Sales at Twilio


“Get laser focused on a very specific customer. For example, not “small businesses,” but “small ecommerce stores on Shopify doing $0-$1M in sales.” The more focused you are in the beginning, the easier it is to find that community online—in Facebook groups, in forums, on Quora and Reddit, in Twitter searches. Start following them and helping them with your expertise, and add value to the conversation. The search bar is your friend.”
–Ben Jabbawy, CEO at Privy


“Create a robust feedback loop between customer feedback and your product roadmap, and make sure your customer-facing teams are religiously tagging customer feedback.”
–David Apple, Head of Customer Success at Notion


“Get an advocate to post to early-adopter communities like Product Hunt. Those adopters tolerate the sharp edges of an early product. Still, they won’t sugar coat their feedback. So you’ll learn a lot. Give those users a Minimum Lovable Product and remember that good design transcends UI. You don’t have to have great UI to have great UX.”
–Jason Garoutte, VP Growth & Marketing Operations at Twilio


“Laser focus on your customer. Talk to them, understand what they need, what is working and what is not working with your offering. Listen, learn, test, make adjustments based on their input and keep repeating that cycle until you get it right.”
–Lisa Campbell, CMO at Autodesk


“Be more focused on feedback, relationships and references than ARR. The money will come if you pay very close attention to those early customers and adapt to their feedback quickly.”
Peter McKay, CEO at Snyk


“1: Identify who has the most pain/most to gain from your solution.
2: Reach out directly.
3: Rapidly adapt based on response and feedback.
4: Rinse and repeat.”
–Carol Meyers, Board Director at Zipwhip


“Understand your ideal customer profile from the start. Put all of your investment into what will differentiate your product with those users. Bring target customers into the process early; through one-one-one interviews, concept tests, surveys, etc. You need to find where you can deliver a better mousetrap to a focused set of buyers who explicitly care about your unique capabilities.”
–Ross Moser, GM of Surveys at SurveyMonkey


“Spend real dedicated time on customer intimacy. Solve a real tangible problem for your customers; they might not realize it is a problem, but your intimacy should bring it to the surface and allow you to solve for it.”
–Rashida Hodge, VP, North America Global Markets at IBM


“Obsess over understanding the problem you solve for your potential user, then move on to obsess over your solution. Before you have scale it is too easy to get lost if you don’t maintain laser focus on what problem you’re solving.”
–Jesse Miller, Head of Growth at Dropbox

Read more insights from the smartest people in SaaS

Partner at OpenView

Casey leads the end-to-end strategy & programming for OpenView’s network of industry experts, advisors & corporate partners. Her role is focused on creating connections between founders & their teams and the partners, advisors, board members & events they need to reach their goals. Additionally, she manages the OpenView portfolio peer networks and hosts the #WeeklyWalk series.