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So you want to build a high growth web startup? Part 1

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by Startacus Admin

beta usersGrab yourself some beta users

You can never wait too long to start acquiring users, although be careful to manage expectations. If its going to be months before your beta users can get access to your app, then make sure you tell potential signups about this and keep them updated with your progress.

There are various services that you can use to start collecting beta user email addresses. Launchrock is probably the most well-known of these, but my tip would be to use a combination of Unbounce and CampaignMonitor.

Unbounce is a brilliant tool for creating A-B tests without any need for technical skills. If you aren’t familiar with A-B testing, then in short it is a way of showing different versions of the same page to a percentage of your site visitors to allow you to see which version converts better. In this case, the conversion event is when you capture the visitor’s email address.

A-B testing at this early stage will enable you to test out different explanations of what your startup does – these short sentences explaining your idea will be used extensively in your deck, press releases, accelerator applications, etc., and so if you can inject some science into it at this stage, you are getting ahead of the game.

Your Unbounce page can be configured to send the captured email addresses to CampaignMonitor, which is an incredible tool for sending beautiful email newsletters, again with minimal technical skills.

Get in the habit of emailing your beta list on a regular basis, somewhere around monthly is probably about right unless you have a lot of interesting stuff to say. Every email should have a clear call to action to encourage the recipients to forward the newsletter to their friends. This helps get around the disadvantage of not using a service like Launchrock which has a social referral engine built in.

Unless your business is in a sector that has a readily accessible early-adopter audience (i.e. services for developers), then be aware that building your beta user list will be a bit of a slog. You should aim to build at least a four figure list of potential users, as this will be a good number to include in your deck and, more practically, will be enough to seed your app with early users when you come to launch.

One fairly common tool used these days to attract beta users is the product overview video. This is a one or two minute animated explanation of what your product will do (when you’ve gotten round to building it!) The normal approach is to be a bit quirky, with an upbeat soundtrack and a simple, punchy message.

Grumo Media are a company who helped pioneer the low-cost approach to making these videos (their Hipmunk videohelped differentiate what couldweb startup have be just yet another flight search engine). Despite being cheaper than conventional video agencies, their fee is still in the tens of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, they offer an online course on how to copy their technique for a mere $150.

When it came to making our product video, we couldn’t afford to pay someone to do it, and so I used the Grumo Media course to enable me to go down the DIY route. Including watching all the videos, the entire process took me around 3 weeks. If you have any experience in animation or video editing you might be able to do it quicker, but as a complete novice in this area I was still amazed with what I was able to produce in such a short period of time.

One final thing to note is you’ll need to use some very expensive Adobe software to make a video like this. However, you can rent the entire Creative Suite from Adobe for around £60 a month which will help keep your costs down.

In Part 2 of So you want to build a high growth startup Craig highlights learning to code and getting started with your Minimum Viable Product.

Cheers Craig! Craig can be followed on Twitter @lefthandme and also via @StorkUp

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Published on: 30th April 2013

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