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The ultimate guide to getting your first 1000 users: Lessons from 10 successful startups

Starting a startup can be exciting, but getting the first 1000 users can be daunting. In fact, getting the first 1000 users can often be the most challenging part of building a startup. However, it’s not impossible. In this blog, we’ll take a look at 10 startups and how they got their first 1000 users. From these examples, you’ll get an idea of what it takes to get your own first 1000 users.


Dropbox

Dropbox is a popular cloud storage and file-sharing platform that currently has over 600 million registered users. However, when it started, it had zero users. To get their first 1000 users, Dropbox used a simple tactic: incentivized referrals. They gave existing users more free storage space for each new user they referred to the platform. This tactic was incredibly effective and helped Dropbox quickly grow to thousands of users.


Airbnb

Airbnb, the online marketplace for renting vacation homes, was initially struggling to get traction. However, they managed to get their first 1000 users by leveraging Craigslist. They created a tool that allowed Airbnb listings to be posted on Craigslist, which helped them reach a wider audience and get their first bookings.


Instagram

Instagram, the photo and video-sharing social media platform, has over 1 billion monthly active users. However, when it launched in 2010, it had zero users. To get their first 1000 users, Instagram leveraged Twitter. They created a Twitter account and started following influential people in the tech and startup community. This helped them gain exposure and attract their first users.


Square

Square is a mobile payment company that allows businesses to accept credit card payments. To get their first 1000 users, Square used a combination of guerrilla marketing and social media. They targeted small business owners and offered them a free credit card reader, which helped them get their first users. They also used social media to spread the word about their product.


Pinterest

Pinterest, the image-sharing social media platform, has over 450 million monthly active users. To get their first 1000 users, Pinterest used a tactic similar to Dropbox: incentivized referrals. They gave users more features and benefits for each new user they referred to the platform. This helped them quickly grow their user base.


LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a professional networking platform that has over 700 million registered users. To get their first 1000 users, LinkedIn leveraged email. They sent emails to their professional contacts and invited them to join the platform. This helped them quickly attract their first users and grow their network.


Yelp

Yelp is a platform that allows users to search and review local businesses. To get their first 1000 users, Yelp used a combination of guerrilla marketing and partnerships. They targeted small business owners and offered them free advertising on the platform. This helped them quickly grow their user base and attract more reviews.


Slack

Slack is a communication platform for teams that has over 12 million daily active users. To get their first 1000 users, Slack leveraged their personal networks. They offered their product to friends and family and asked them to share it with their own networks. This helped them quickly attract their first users and grow their network.


Uber

Uber is a ride-sharing platform that has over 100 million monthly active users. To get their first 1000 users, Uber used a combination of targeted ads and referral programs. They targeted users who searched for taxi-related keywords on Google and offered them a free ride. They also incentivised existing users to refer new users to the platform.


Evernote

Evernote is a note-taking app that has over 225 million registered users. To get their first users, Evernote utilized a freemium model, offering a basic version of their app for free while charging for premium features like increased storage and offline access. This strategy helped to attract a large user base and convert some of them into paying customers.


Bonus Tip

In my personal experience of starting a marketplace business, I found that going guerilla and physically going to where your users are can make a big impact. Despite the vast array of online tools available, it's important not to forget about the power of in-person interaction. For B2B marketplaces, such as those targeting beauty service providers or car dealerships, you can generally find them in particular locations, such as industry conferences or trade shows. By physically showcasing your platform to potential users, you not only get to connect with them directly, but also receive immediate feedback on your product. So don't overlook the power of real-world connections in building your marketplace business. As a bonus tip, consider attending industry-specific events to build relationships and gain valuable insights that can help your business thrive. Don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to stay tuned for the next blog in this series!


Getting the first 1000 users for a startup is no easy feat, but it is possible with the right strategy and execution. The 10 startups we have discussed each had their unique approach, but they all had one thing in common: they were creative, resourceful, and persistent in their pursuit of growth.


Whether it's leveraging existing networks, generating buzz through creative marketing, or focusing on building a community, the key is to find the right approach for your product and audience. And once you find it, keep experimenting, measuring, and iterating until you achieve the desired results.








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