🥁 5 Ways to Find Your First 1000 Users

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Good Morning, this is Napkin Notes: the startup newsletter that wakes up and decides to give away a $100 Apple Gift Card to one of you because giving cool shit to founders is our #1 love language.

Wanna win the card? It’s going to the reader who refers the most people in 7 days. You read that right.

You see, our boss wants us to grow this puppy. And since we didn’t have enough sway to give you a ticket to Apple’s Wonderlust event, we’re giving one of you $100 to spend on any Apple product.

Here’s a photo of the card to prove we ain’t bluffing.

All you gotta do is:

  • click below to share the newsletter

  • between now and next Thursday, Sept 21st 10 PM PST

  • then we’ll tally up the names

  • and announce a winner in our next newsletter

Little hack to keep in mind: you don’t have to email one friend at a time. You could drop it in your team Slack, spin up a LinkedIn post, or even riff it into your own newsletter.

One cleverly worded tweet may just win you $100. In the great words of Ms. Katniss Kernal Everdeen, “may the odds be ever in your favour 🤞

Today’s Newsletter Line-Up

  • 🗞 News round-up

  • 💸 Apply to pitch at our first demo day

  • 📈 5 ways to find your first 1,000 users

  • 🐦 Startup memes of the week

  • 🍻 Get you back to your Friday inbox

📰 Business News You Missed: iPhone 15 had its big debut. Mexico found alien mummies. 82% of us were sad we missed the All-In Summit. Databricks raised $500M. Birkenstock, the swanky sandal all your cool friends wear, filed for an IPO. Starlink made $1.4 billion last year. TikTok launched in-app shopping. And your pals at Kernal are hosting our first-ever demo day. 🥳

You heard us. We’re getting the gang together for a big pitch day. And if you wanna pitch on centre stage all you gotta do is apply today by midnight.

Now let’s quit the blabbering and talk about hacks to land your first 1,000 users.

🤝 How to Land Your First 1,000 Customers

Playbooks are critical. And so are customers.

So we put 2 and 2 together and sourced a playbook that teaches founders how to land your first 1,000 customers.

It’s written by a founder named Noah Kagan. He built a cool website called AppSumo.com that over 1 million people use. It’s a software website that gives entrepreneurs deals on everything under the sun.

But before they had 1,000,000 users, they had 1,000. And before 1,000 they had 0. My goal today is to:

  • Remind you that every founder starts at 0 users

  • Show you some hacks to get your first hundred users

  • Then spill the beans on how you can get to 1,000 users and beyond

Sound like it’s worth 3 mins of your time? We sure flipping hope so.

1. 👋 Hand To Hand Marketing | 0 -50 users

Noah recommends “meeting your customers where they are at and introducing them to the product one by one” in the early days.

This could be on Instagram, in the LinkedIn comments, deep in the subreddits of a niche, or even a pop-up shop in NYC.

  • Find out where your customers are hanging out, what they read and who they follow

  • Chat with them: email, text message, commenting, group chat, slack

  • See how/if/when your product can help them with a problem they have by bringing them into a beta group/early product offering

Example: When Tinder started, the team went to different sororities/fraternities to land their first 15,000 users.

2. 🥘 Buffet Marketing | 50 - 100 users

The focus of part two is: "Test, test, test, and collect” as Noah says. “Test everything. Collect the data. Determine what works best.”

Example: When Kernal first started, we posted on 20 different Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups and Slack groups to see which one got the best reply. We then learned the Trends Group (made by Sam Parr) was our highest converter with the most engaged users in that group. So we doubled down and did a follow-up blog with their team.

This is where “Buffet Marketing” got it’s name.

Because you wanna test as many bites as possible to see what’s gonna reel in the best return on your investment.

3. 🏈 Refine, Block & Tackle | 100 - 500 users

And as you eat, you figure out the curry’s better than the pasta. So for your next dinner at the restaurant, you skip the spaghetti and focus on the curry.

Locking down your first 100-500 customers is no different.

Noah recommends founders “find and tackle the 1-2 things that have the potential to 10x”. Then double down on them.

Example: For Kernal, it’s been our newsletter, posting on Twitter, and giving invite codes to community managers.

4. 📈 Scale | 500 - 1000 users

For the next step, Noah suggests “taking what’s proven to work and 10x’ing it”.

So anything that’s not bearing fruit, you drop. Anything that’s distracting, you let go of.

Focus on the 1-2 channels that are crushing it for new users and after you’ve seen it work, pour some gasoline on the fire.

Example: For Noah at AppSumo, this was focusing on email marketing and hosting daily giveaways. This took ‘em from 500 customers to 1000 in a week.

5. ☸️ Flywheel Marketing | 1000+ users

You’ve found your niche, you’ve generated demand and now you’ve crossed the 1,000-user mark.

Firstly, congrats.

Secondly, time to focus on the flywheel, fam.

A good marketing flywheel is only as good as its business model.

After you know where your users hang out and you’re actively solving a problem for them, it’s time to bake acquisition loops, referral loops, and affiliate loops into your product.

Then, spin that flywheel again and again until you’re dizzy.

When you do that right, it creates a system that feeds itself.

And when you have that right, investors will be all over you to book a meeting.

Now, all you have to do now is:

☕️ Interesting Finds

  • Kacper Staniul just made offmarket.so, a site that collects data from marketplaces like WordPress, Shopify, Figma and Indie Hackers to lets you find untapped acquisition opportunities with no competition.

  • YC’s biggest rival nobody’s talking about. Hint: it rhymes with Feel Thellowship

  • 7 big announcements from Apple’s WonderLust event

  • 1,000 VC firms to pitch for on your big startup idea

  • Nvidia CEO runs his company in a wild way

🍷 Swipes of the Week

*The only thing better than memes is winning a $100 Apple Gift Card. Refer a few friends to the newsletter before it’s too late.

There’s a new set of AirPods with your name on it 👂

💚 The Kernal Fam

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