Sam Altman : How to Get Your First 100 Users

Robert’s MetaMask

Sam Altman walks through four common strategies to get your fist 100 users in order of best to worst:

1. Use your network. Email everyone you know and call in favors from anyone you can think of. But if it’s a paid product, make sure you charge them. “People who are inclined to do you favors are going to be too nice in what they tell you. So if it’s a paid product, charge them.”

2. Research people who might use your product and email them asking them to try it. “Conversion rates are low—maybe 2-3%—so you’ll have to reach out to more people. But you can send targeted emails saying ‘Hey, I just made this new product. I’d really appreciate if you would try it out.’ Most people want to be helpful.”

3. Social media outreach, posting to HN, forums, PR, etc. “The important thing to look for here is a traffic source that is sustainable rather than one big pop that then promptly goes away.” Airbnb is an example of a company that made PR work as an ongoing process—they were able to come up with press stunt after press stunt. But it’s hard.

4. Buy ads and point them at your website. “This is the ‘laziest’ and least impressive thing you can do… This is not what I’d recommend. I don’t know of any startup that has gotten big starting this way. I include it because it’s the idea that most people try.”

This may sound basic, but I think this advice is important. Getting your first 100 users is mostly hard work. As Sam puts it:

“Everyone thinks they’re going to put up this website, tell one person about it, and it’s going to take off like wildfire. But that’s not what usually happens.”

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