Early Adopter Users and Startup Communities

When starting out one of the biggest challenges is finding early adopter users. You know, the types of people that love trying new things and are happy being the guinea pig. As part of customer discovery, it’s important to talk to as many relevant people as possible and work to find the best opportunity in the market. Even when someone says they’re interested in a potential product, it doesn’t mean they’ll actually use it. Using a product requires a behavior change and behavior changes are hard, very hard.

One of the big benefits of startup communities, like the Atlanta Tech Village, is a built-in group of early adopters. Here are a few of the great things about startup community early adopters:

  • Desire to dive in and try out a product in the wild with minimal handholding
  • Willing to provide direct feedback and not sugar-coat things (friends are often tough early adopters due to not wanting to hurt any feelings)
  • Actively make introductions to other people outside the community that are good candidates to be early adopters
  • Eager to act as a reference to talk to other potential customers and share their experience with the product (references and testimonials are always gold, especially so in the early years)

Early adopters are critical for entrepreneurs and the difficult process of finding users is slightly easier with a strong startup community. The larger and stronger the community, the easier the process.

What else? What are some other thoughts on early adopter users and startup communities?

2 thoughts on “Early Adopter Users and Startup Communities

  1. Geoffrey Moore stated it best in Crossing the Chasm:

    “Visionaries (ATV residents) drive the high end tech industry because they see the potential for an “order-of-magnitude” return on investment and willingly take high risks to pursue that goal. They will work with vendors who have little or no funding, with products that start life as little more than a diagram on a whiteboard, and with technology gurus who bear a disconcerting resemblance to Rasputin. They know they are outside the mainstream, and they accept that as part of the price you pay when trying to leapfrog competition.”

    The Atlanta Tech Village has tons of “visionaries” willing to try software. This helps immensely with getting the first 5-10 customers/users.


  2. Great Post.
    I want to add that early adopters are important. But sometimes startups misread the possibility that all early adopters are the same, and that simply isn’t true. The early adopter’s a startup ought to acquire should be incredibly dependent on the problem & solution the startup is offering. Very small things that may seem obvious to the average tech adopter may be unnecessary or not important to the real problem owner.

    I think startup communities are great in the sense that they provide you with camaraderie, support, advice, and introductions. But unless your product is made for the startup community, it can be a waste of time. Immense focus on the problem owner, the core user, the real customer is really importat.

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