Here is video and slides from Feb-11-2021 talk “Landing Your First Ten Customers” at the Lean Culture Meetup. I have included some supplemental resources for further reading.

Landing Your First Ten Customers:
Video, Slides, and Other Resources

Landing Your First Ten Customers“A tactical talk that includes practical strategies, growth hacks, and specific techniques for startup founders to land their first 10 enterprise customers. It covers landing your first customer and validating your business model.”
Description from Feb-11-2021 Lean Culture Meetup

Is this you?

  • You have put their heart and soul into developing your product?
  • You see uses for it everywhere, but no one follows up after a conversation?
  • You launch your dreams and then nothing…nobody buys

If so, you may find this talk helpful. Here are  the topics covered:

  • Why the first ten customers are so hard
  • Customer buying process
  • Referrals and warm leads
  • Mapping Your Network
  • Building on your success
  • How do you find leads
  • Closing Sales
  • Common reasons sales don’t close

Video for Landing Your First Ten Customers

Slides from SKMurphy’s Landing Your Ten Customers at Feb-11-2021 Lean Culture Meetup

Notes For Mapping Your Network

Build on existing relationships and prior shared success, stronger referrals will come from top of list:

  1. Current customers and former customers–meaning customers from earlier startups or earlier jobs you have held. These are people who can vouch for what it’s like to be your customer.
  2. Former co-workers and managers. These people can vouch for your work habits and the quality of your work.
  3. Professional and interest group associates. These people can vouch for your domain knowledge and professional accomplishments
  4. Classmates and teachers / professors: preferably those you collaborated with on one or more projects.
  5. Family and friends: can often open doors, but their support may be discounted because it is viewed as colored by friendship (or blood).

For most engineers and scientists the easiest way to think about your prior work experience is projects. Make a list of projects that  you have worked on from most recent to older, going back three to six years. You can also think of a project as a company you worked for or different roles at the same company. The list can include volunteer work if that is relevant to your current focus.

Take your most recent project and make a list of contributors you collaborated with and the nature of their contribution. Add where they are now if you now if you know and the last time you remember speaking with them. You can search your inbox and calendar but the goal is to be accurate to the nearest three months or so.

Do this in turn for three to six projects.  Now consider taking one or more of the following actions

  • Send a thank you note
  • Invite to coffee, meal, event
  • Write a LinkedIn endorsement
  • Send them an update
  • See if you can assist these folks
  • Consider updating this list going forward

The goal is to help you reconnect with folks you have a prior shared success with, to appreciate how hard it can be to write an endorsement, and to see if you can assist them before you start to ask them for favors. All members of your founding team should go through this exercise and compare notes. You will reach out to people on this list not just for referrals to new customers but for help on challenges in their area of expertise, suggestions for who you should interview, and sanity checks on ideas that you are considering.

Spreadsheet for Mapping Your Network

Related Resources

Blog Posts

Startup post mortems

I mentioned in the talk that a common post mortems is “we asked if people would pay for our product before we developed it, they said yes so we developed it. When we brought it back they would not actually pay.

Working Capital Vol1Working Capital Book