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How the biggest consumer apps got their first 1,000 users

Lenny Rachitsky
Lenny's Newsletter
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Every startup confronts the question of how to acquire their first 1000 users. Below are strategies used by major consumer apps to acquire their earliest users:

Top seven strategies:

  1. Go where your target users are, offline- find early target users and where they currently congregating offline e.g. Tinder and Doordash
  2. Go where your target users are, online- find early target users, and where they currently congregating online e.g. Dropbox
  3. Invite your friends- e.g. Lyft and Yelp
  4. Create FOMO in order to drive word-of-mouth- e.g. Spotify and Instagram
  5. Leverage influencers- e.g. Twitter
  6. Get press- e.g. Airbnb and Slack
  7. Build a community pre-launch- e.g. Product Hunt

Key questions to ask yourself to determine where to focus:

  1. Who are your early target users, and where they currently congregating, offline and online?
  2. Do your friends fit into the target user group?
  3. Does your product rely on UGC?
  4. Is your value-prop incredibly strong?
  5. Is your product innately social?
  6. Who are influencers of your target users, and how could you get them to talk about your product?
  7. What’s a unique, compelling, fresh story you could pitch press?
  8. Could you build a community now, to leverage later?
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