In my last post I talked about how I used Twitter to do the initial market research for the Trybe platform.
One thing I didn’t mention there was the role that customer interviews also played in my initial research work.
I first learnt about doing customer interviews only recently, while completing a startup incubator with The Founders Institute in Sydney.
They involve, as the name suggests, finding potential future customers and conducting long interviews (up to one hour) to determine exactly what their needs and pain points are, and how you might be able to help them…
You may think you have the perfect solution for them, but it’s not until you start doing customer interviews that you realize that either they don’t have the problems you thought they had, or that your solution is not all that useful for them!
In some ways customer interviews are confusing, as everybody has different problems, but if you do enough of them then you start to uncover patterns, and that’s when you know you’re onto something.
The patterns which surfaced in my own customer interviews were these:
- The need for education within the crypto community was definitely strong — but people wanted to make sure the education was going to be provided by reliable experts.
- The need to be able to network with other people in the community was strong — a need I hadn’t realised existed.
So, with these factors in mind, I set about creating the next version of my product…
Building a cheap MVP
I was initially going to build my MVP for Trybe using the Minds.org software, which is open source social network software, but after speaking to the founder of Minds, a great guy called Bill Ottman, I soon realized that it was going to cost me thousands of dollars a month just in hosting fees, let alone all the development fees.
Sticking to my plan to bootstrap my startup for less than $10K, this really wasn’t going to work at all!
I hunted around for different options, checking out all the available open source software platforms, and eventually decided that WordPress was probably going to be the cheapest and most efficient platform to build my site on.
WordPress is free, comes with literally thousands of different plugins, and can be modified in almost any way you see fit. It’s not the perfect choice for any business model, but for a social network focused on content publishing, it was perfect!
Note: if WordPress isn’t a good fit for your own ideas, try finding an open source app that can be modified to suit your business. If nothing is available, check Google for terms like “whitelabel” or “clone”. For example, if you’re building a site which has similar functionality to Uber, then do searches for “Uber clone” or “Uber clone script” or “Uber clone software”. You might find that there’s something with sufficiently similar features to what you want that you can modify it (or have it modified) a lot cheaper than trying to build it from scratch.
Of course, if you’re doing something truly original, this method is not going to work for you. In that case you’ll have to work out the best way to build your MVP as quickly and cheaply as possible. But in most cases, some kind of MVP can be built with existing software. At least it will give you an idea of whether or not your idea will work — at which point you can go and get something custom built.
Okay, so once I’d settled on WordPress, I needed to find out which plugins were going to get me as close as possible to building what I wanted to build. From there, I could customize them. Development is expensive, so the less work I had to do, the better.
Luckily I’m very familiar with WordPress, so I was able to do a lot of the work myself.
Viral Marketing and Gamification using a built in Cryptocurrency
Meanwhile, I had to perfect my marketing strategy… There’s no point having a great product with a great distribution model, and the two really need to go hand in hand.
I’m sure there are plenty of techies out there who’ll tell you that the most important thing is to build something awesome, or plenty of sales and marketing people who’ll tell you that with good marketing, you can sell anything, but it’s my belief that they’re equally as important and should be developed in unison.
I soon realized that paying for ads on Twitter was going to get very expensive very quickly. Although I was having good results, for $10,000 (minus what I was going to pay to actually develop the platform) I wasn’t going to get very far at all!
Enter… A viral marketing strategy.
Viral marketing means you get your existing customers to do your marketing for you, in return for some kind of reward (you don’t have to offer a reward — but it makes it a hell of a lot easier!) In theory — you should be able to get a few hundred people on board, and they should do the rest for you…
Given I’m targeting my social network at cryptocurrency enthusiasts, then creating a native cryptocurrency for my platform seemed natural. In my case, I was going to use it to reward all participation in my platform, including sharing content to other networks and inviting friends.
Thus — viral marketing!
To test out my viral marketing plan, I signed up with a platform called www.viral-loops.com
Viral loops allows you to set reward milestones — such as inviting 5 friends or 10 friends — and provides an easy way for your users to (a) invite their friends via email or social networks and (b) keep track of their referrals.
I ran a series of Twitter ads getting people to sign up to my Viral loops program, and from 45 initial subscribers that I got through Twitter, I very soon had over 90 thanks to people recommending their friends and spreading the word…
It was working!
Here’s how it looked:
Building the Product
All I need to do now is finish off building my platform, create a cryptocurrency that I can use as rewards for my participants, and integrate the two!
By the way — part of the idea for this system came from one of my favourite Medium authors, Daniel Jeffries, who wrote this article here:
That’s it for this article. In my next one I’ll go more into depth on how I actually create my site, and how I build my own token (hopefully both will be done by then)!
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