Earlier this week I was talking to founders of a local startup about finding product / market fit (stage 1). They had a minimum viable product that was rapidly approaching minimum respectable product but didn’t have any active users yet. We were talking through goals for the next six months and it was emphasized to me that they were going to do everything in their power to sign up 30 paying customers.
After hearing the customer goal, I emphasized that signing 10 customers that fit their ideal customer profile was more important than signing a large number of random customers in the near-term. Here are a few reasons why quality is more important than quantity at the earliest of stages:
- Customers will always ask for product enhancements, so it’s key that requests align with the entrepreneur’s vision of the future
- Signing non-ideal customers is fine as long as you are prepared to say ‘no’ to feature requests that don’t fit the vision
- Live customers represent oxygen for the product, so clean air is better than the alternative
- Ideal customers are going to be happier customers and happier customers are going to provide testimonials as well as references for future customers
Of course, some customers are better than no customers. As co-founders working hard to find product / market fit, it’s critical to bring on ideal customers as well.
What else? What are your thoughts on focusing on signing ideal customers instead of random customers at the beginning of a startup?