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Written by Alexander Hipp

12/04/2021

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Understanding Our First 1000 Users

This article is the first in a series where we share stories and best practices of our quest for reaching product/market fit with Beyond. This time: How we are using user research techniques and methods to define our target customers and learn about their underserved needs.

We don't have a dedicated user researcher in the team yet. Therefore, everyone in the team is responsible for talking to potential users.

Marc Andreessen defined the term product/market fit as follows: "It means being in a good market with a product that can satisfy that market." So this means you build something people want. But who are these people? What are their needs, fears and dreams and how does your product idea fit in their life? How are they solving the problem at the moment?

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These questions can only be answered if you start talking to them a lot and frequently. We try to speak to five potential users a week in an open interview format for 30 minutes and with the whole team involved.

We mainly ask open-ended questions and let the interviewees do the talking without having too much structure in the discussion. Questions you ask should be around the problem they might have, that your solution is supposed to solve, possible friction with their current solutions, and where, when, why and how often the problem occurs for them.

With Beyond, we are creating an entirely new market: The Curator Economy. Most people haven't heard of this before and therefore don't know that they might be potential members of this new emerging opportunity. This is why the possible future customer's answers should mainly drive the direction of the conversation. Don't tell them how great your idea is, what you envision the market to be and how it will change their lives in the future. You can do this at the end.

After a few interviews, there might already be specific patterns that evolve (we structure our notes with Notion. People are saying the same things or complaining about similar hurdles in their daily lives. These are great starting points for running a survey with a broader audience of people that might fit your target group. By doing this, you either verify or falsify first assumptions, and you get a lot more interested people to reach out to for an in-depth interview later on.

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Also, you can build a first landing page that describes the problem as you see it and the way you want to solve the problem for them. The solution part doesn't need to be super specific since you probably don't exactly have a solution in mind yet. That's ok. By allowing users to leave their email address on the landing page, you can capture early interest and build up a pool of potential users early on.

To get direct feedback from this waiting list group, we experimented with a quick video-based survey with three questions that we showed to the users right after they have signed up to the waiting list. This helped us to refine and improve the landing page directly.

After capturing many different opinions about your potential market, you are in a much better position to define your best customers. The first 1000 users will help you to the next stage. We talked to more than a hundred people as of now and had feedback from almost a thousand. This is still the beginning, but we have a much better picture now of what to build, and even more importantly, where to start.

The next article in this series will give more insight into how we are working on the traction topic. How do we get to these first 1000 users after we have defined their profile?

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