Learn how to acquire 100 early users for your start-up in less than 2 weeks. I’m sure Quora, as a marketing weapon, isn’t the...
3 Simple Steps to Prove Your Startup IdeaAnastasia Mudrova
I talked to more than 100 CEOs and founders to get proof of the startup idea
My story is the same as yours. I wasn’t an expert in many fields when my boyfriend and I began building our Clever.do startup. When the idea for the project became more tangible, we needed to get evidence supporting our beliefs about the product, in order to be certain that it would work. I’m not an expert in any analytical area, and understood that I needed some simple way to prove the idea. Do you know the easiest way to get answers to your questions? Sure, social networks! Social networks today give you an awesome chance to be closer to your potential customers, as well as to know more about their concerns, demands and wishes. The question is: How do you make your potential customers be honest with their answers?
Now begins the most interesting part. First, I created our Marketing Persona (a marketing persona is a composite sketch, representative of a segment of your target market, by Ardath Albee). The centre of our Marketing Persona sketch is a CEO/founder of a company. Where I could get these busy people to have a talk? I chose LinkedIn as a “battlefield”.
Step # 1: How to Find the Relevant Group of People on LinkedIn.
When you know your sample group, your task is to find a relevant group of people on LinkedIn for your questionnaire. I’ll tell you how I did it.
- First I Googled something like “new start-ups of 2015”.You can google any stuff relevant to your industry. After that, I identified CEOs and/or founders of startups from the list and again Googled something like, “CEO of G….L on LinkedIn”. You will see on a search engine result page the number of pages. Check every one and read the profile attentively.
- The other way is just to tap the stuff you need directly into LinkedIn’s search engine.
This part is the easiest one.
Step # 2: How to Contact Someone you are not Connected to on LinkedIn.
Now you have the list of people you’d like to survey. You know, if you don’t have this or that person in the list of your connections, you can’t write them a message. I mean, you can—but you’ll need to pay. What if you are not even second degree connections? In that case, how can you connect with them anyway?
- You can connect with them like a friend—but this is not fair, isn’t it? More than being unfair, it can offend the person (or even get you in trouble with LinkedIn). What else you can do besides this?
- You can connect with them via groups they are members of. Here, you first need to be a member of the group in question. I actually don’t like this method, but you, please, try them all.
- If you read a profile attentively, you can often find an email address inside. Cool. You’ll be able to send an email to this person directly.
- If there is no email in the profile, you don’t want to pay for InMail, and you think the idea of joining groups is not for you, then try the following hack: Use the Open Profile. Open Profile messages are free InMail messages that can be sent to any member with Open Profile turned on, even if they are outside of your network. Your only obstacle is to find people who have a premium account with the open profile function turned on.
Step # 3: How to Write LinkedIn Messages That Actually get Read
I’m sure you’d like to tell people about you or you project ASAP. But be respectful of the other person’s time. Many people don’t want to get a message from you at all, let alone hear about your startup idea. Here, you should be proactive.
- Start with as specific a subject line as possible: “Getting to know new IT startup with 10k in revenue” is more likely to be read than “New Startup”.
- Don’t hurry. Write a quick intro where you explain who you are and why you’re reaching out.
- Now you can briefly tell them about your startup idea and/or ask for a favour, like in in my case (I asked CEOs and founders to take part in my questionnaire).
Well, now you have the structure of your InMail: an introduction, body paragraph, and conclusion. One more critical fact—your message should only be a couple of sentences, tops. You have a much higher chance that a person will read your message if it’s short, straightforward, and friendly (and definitely not pushy).
100% you’ll get some refusals. No worries. Just say thanks them for their time.
The main rule of the game is courage, brevity and proactivity.
After some time passed, I had all my questions answered. Should I say I was happy and more than amazed by some answers? It was a great experience for me. The results are even more exciting; you can have a look at my Research Results.
LinkedIn is typically the easiest way to find people who work in a specific industry or hold a certain job title. LinkedIn also allows you to narrow your search based on skills and expertise.
Cindy Alvarez (from Lean Customer Development)
If you enjoyed reading, please support my work by hitting any of the little share buttons!
Photo by Aaron Clark