9.9 out 10 Entrepreneurs expose the first look of their product to their friends, family and people who trust them and they trust. If we throw all of them under the umbrella of “Trusted Users”, these trusted users will help you a lot in the early stage of your product evolution. They will help you find bugs, give you friendly advise, moral support and so forth.
Let me clue you in on one biggest surprise about trusted users -
Trusted Users are NOT your Tribe Users
This blog is inspired by my conversations with Maxim Razmakhin, founder of Mixely – a new way to find friends . Max is really smart and is on to something interesting. Watch his progress.
Where can you find your tribe users?
- Tribe users typically emerge from those who have the problem that your product solves; and will “try” a new solution other than what they have been doing for a long time. Not all people who have this problem will become your tribe users. Only a small segment of them.
- Tribe users are also part of those users who have an immediate need, urgency, desire, resources and time to engage with your “not so great beta” product.
- For each startup, their particular tribe user is defined based on the
- Market (emerging, mature, crowded emerging, etc)
- Business Model (B2c, B2B, B2B2C)
- Revenue Model (Paid, Free, Ad supported)
- Age, demographic, etc, etc.
- In short this is very subjective to every startup – don’t mimic what others are doing. Define your tribe user based on what is ideal for your business
What are other characteristics of Tribe users?
- Tribe users are those who don’t care who you (founder) or your team is BUT love everything about the product
- Tribe users don’t hesitate to tell you that your product sucks and which features work well and what features don’t work well. Tribe users don’t hesitate to voice their dissatisfaction but at the same time change their opinion if you hear and address their concerns.
- Tribe users have an emotional and passionate relationship with the product and company rather than the company management or team. Of course that passion and emotion could emerge from how the management/founders engage with the users, but ultimately their relationship is with the product.
Picking people you trust for the tribe users does not qualify them as your tribe users. Also, picking who trust you rather than their own needs also doesn’t qualify as tribe users.
People who trust you and you trust might not be honest with you. More importantly they may not even fit the profile of your target user. You sister, college roommate, advisor, colleagues, drink buddy – while all of them have a trust relationship with you, they send you incorrect signals for the success of your product.
What to avoid when looking for Tribe users?
- When it comes to tribe users, don’t start with trusted relationship just because you could. They will lead you the wrong way.
- When it comes to tribe users, don’t accept everyone who wants to try your product. Define a “profile of your prospective user” and stick to it. Make it public – don’t worry about alienating others, as most of them are not even looking at your site or your product anyways.
- When you let your users pick their friends to be part of your tribe, I would use some caution; In the interest of “virality” and growth, most entrepreneurs allow their users to invite their friends. While there is less risk in the growth stage, but in the initial stage, this might be risky. So, add proper thought into how you can control this process at the same time empower your users. Priority is to find users who fit your qualifications -rather than just any willing users. Don’t expect your users (even though they are your tribe users) to care as much as you care about these aspects.