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