You Don’t Need a Beta Tester, but an Early Evangelist

The title is a phrase of Tim Jackson of Lean Investments, met yesterday at the Google Campus in London. He admitted that it’s a famous quote but none of us recall the name of the original inventor (if you do, please write it in the comments).

Besides the copyright issue, I agree that avoiding the trap of free beta testing is a good strategy for (almost) any projects. In our world, it’s quite common to launch a free app or website, get 10,000 users in a few days/weeks/months and get excited. We think we have a market and we start charging. Because “If we keep 10% of the users for 10$ a month we make $10,000 a month”.

The only problem: we are damn wrong. As soon as we start charging for the service, the users disappear. I don’t mean 10% or 5% of them. They disappear completely.

What you need aren’t 10,000 users ready to disappear. You need to find 5 users willing to pay your (crappy) beta version. If they do, they have such a big need of your service that they are ready to pay any version (even an alpha). They will interact with you, suggest how to improve your service, and – if you solve this need – they will be so grateful to share their joy.

If you can do that, THEY will sell your service.

p.s. – I believe the original quote was “Startups have beta testers. Great startups have early evangelists” but I can’t still remember who said that. Do you?

Image credits: Simon Webster a.k.a. shaggy359 at Flickr.com

9 Comments

  1. At the moment I am providing access to the service for free. I would like to increase our traction and have some number to show to potential investors. Do you think is wrong?

  2. Hello I am planning to write a blog to improve my reputation in my job line. I can write but I am afraid that non-writing takes a lot of effort (seo, smm, etc). May I ask what are you doing to promote the website and how many hours it takes?

    • Hi Chris, the answer is simple. I am not doing anything at the moment. I don’t sell anything, so I don’t need to promote the website. However I have an (unexpected and good) passive income from other websites, and indeed it can takes times. The commitment depends from your goals. Maybe you can start writing just one post and see if you like it?

  3. Great post and I like the wordpress theme – do you know its name and if it’s free?

    • The theme’s name is “Yawning lawyer at the park”. Short story: I did it (using Headway and a few personalised css). Full story: I was drafting contracts in a park. As a personal rule, if I am working on something and I yawn 3 times, I switch to something different (well, unless I have a deadline). After two contracts I was so border that I took a little break. The little break last 4 hours and this theme was born. Glad that you like it.

  4. hey Stephano it’s interesting but difficult. Who’s going to pay for a beta test?

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