How did you get your first 10 customers?

Do you remember how you got your first 10 customers?

Ten customers doesn’t seem like a lot, but those first ten are usually hard-won. They are also a confirmation that you’ve actually made something that people want.

So how did you get those first 10 customers?


I’ll answer my own question:

I got most of my first 10 customers from Quora. I answered a few questions whose answer was “my product”. Most of these customers came from just one question, that was something like “What’s an affordable alternative to UserVoice?”

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Google and word of mouth. These days most of the leads are coming from our own documentation and some of the hard earned back links.


Google, and we also have a “Powered by” link in our free plan.

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This interests me. Did your “Powered by” link simply point to your home page? Or did you craft a special landing page for it?

When you say documentation, do you mean publicly accessible docs for your service (APIs, etc)?

Yes, that is what I meant. It is searchable from outside and people are inquiring if/how the vendor supports specific integrations or techniques.

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We just point to our homepage. I think crafting a special landing page can make sense. However it depends on your customer type. If your free customers are companies, they might not feel comfortable to have a type of “buy this now” link, even if the product is free. And we see that for some groups in a company getting on a paid plan has so much red tape, that they won’t attempt. However they are happy to be on the free plan and giving us much exposure on a credible domain.

So the answer is: it depends.

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They came from search engines to my web site. It was ugly back then and it was hosted on a 3rd level domain so I’m not sure why people decided to spend money in such a place :slight_smile: I was just starting, and first four months have passed with no sales at all. Those very first purchases were extremely important, and another 4-5 months with no sales may have ended it all. I should say thanks to those people. I even thought about contacting them, like 10-12 years after those sales, when my business have became much more mature, offering them some presents or something, but I still have not done so.

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In my case, it was from posting to an email discussion list (for Photoshop plugin developers & users), announcing the product & asking people to check it out. I’d already been a member of the email list for a long time & participated there and they had a culture of allowing members to announce things they were working on, so it wasn’t about randomly spamming user groups.

I don’t think I got any sales from the email I sent, but one developer on that list saw it, and he then mentioned my product in his own email newsletter with 30,000 subscribers. So that’s where all my first sales came from.

Prior to that I’d just made a website & hoped that people would magically discover it and buy from it. Obviously, that didn’t work! So there were a few weeks of zero sales before the newsletter thing happened.

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“Build it and no-one will come” is probably the first hard business reality most of us learn!

My first users came from user groups where I posted from time to time. Back in 2004-2005 these newsgroups were the only place where many communities gathered (MSMQ developers in my case). So first 10 customers were relatively easy to get. Even if it wasn’t big money, it was very important validation at that point that someone finds my software useful.

Nowadays these things are scattered through twitter, fb, linked in, forums, quora, stack overflow, in dozen places and I think it’s much harder to get free exposure that way.