Since the end of last year, I offer sociological context and organizational design at work.io What´s work.io? Work.io is a start up of my dear friend, mentor and congenial mastermind Bruno Haid. He gathered a team of champions to create “some new kind of marketplace” for experts and companies…
There was an interesting question from the audience at the panel with Airbnb, Brit + Co, TaskRabbit, And Lyft at Disrupt SF 2012. “How did you get your first 10k users?”. Because we are thinking about the same challenge at work.io at the moment I want to collect various cases and try to group them by method.
Initial traction is nearly always friends, family and fools. But these only get you up to 1-2k depending on who you are. Vacanti wrote a post how to get the first 1000 users. And Rob Fitzpatrick says that it is the CEOs job to email those 1000 users which I fully agree on.
AirBnB: National Democratic Convention ‘08. Demand and Press.
TaskRabbit: Boston moms.
Facebook: Harvard. src
Word of Mouth
Lyft: Pink mustache on front of the cars.
Pinterest: It took over a year to get to 10k. At 5k Silbermann contacted many of them directly. src
Dropbox: Demovideo on digg src
Linkedin: Employees invited 112 people and it grow from there. src
Quora: Invited friends and grew from there. One could argue it was also hyperlocal silicon valley because of that. src
craigslist: At the beginning it was just craigs mailinglist. src
kickstarter: Friends src
Yammer: Product and winning techcrunch50 src
change.org: Every campaign gets new people in src
OKcupid: Spun out of popular quiz site TheSpark src
reddit: many fake users which were operated by the team src 20:00min
fab.com: 200k subscribers before launch src
I think that is enough for the moment. Reading through all those stories tells me three things. The product is the key; That is nothing new but should still be mentioned. How to get first traction is influenced by many factors; it is mostly a decision where to start; some things better than others but you can’t know them upfront. Many founders have no clue what really worked. Also because they tried different things and often it is a mix of several things. I don’t really buy the viral category. Of course it is important to implement virality in the product but if you don’t hit the user at the right spot they won’t care. AirBnBs piggybacking answer gives real insights. Many startups had those initial events that accelerated their growth significantly. For some it is winning a contest, for others a event where they prove their usefulness.
Studying others can inspire you but at the end it comes down to what you decide to do. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
I told you that you can expect one post from me each day. Make it ‘at least one’. (I don’t like scheduled publishing.)
Some of you already know my startup work.io. We want to change how people work. At least some of them. People who like to work on their own but don’t don’t want to be responsible for acquisition, making sure that customers pay and other stuff that is not what they are interested in. It’s like removing most of the stuff people read on clients from hell from freelancing. We go three steps further than elance or odesk. Imagine a stream of assignments that fit to your interests and expertise on which you can start working immediately. You also can stop when you get stuck and still get paid for everything you have done. It will take time until we found appropriate tools for the different industries but with for most research and analysis tasks it already works quite good. People need to know what they want to buy and the system forces them to define it clearly. But they also get high quality in short time for a fair price without additional overhead.
I will write more about the things we have planned and why I think it is important to change how we think about work nowadays.
I am known in Austria. Some people may even recognize me in Germany. But if you drop my name at a meetup in New York City or the Silicon Valley chances are very high everyone will stare at you with asking eyes. I used me, the person, as a vector in the past to push things that I found important. Like the change of the educational system in Austria. Or Social Media as a tool for social movements. I am not sure if it is the best idea but I believe that real people are more trustworthy than companies or even fictional characters. I will try to be myself. To voice my disapproval if the startup goes in a different direction. This is such an early point of the journey. In my head there is a vague plan. A direction. I will publish as much of it and answer all questions about it to make it clear to everyone what my intend and goal is.
Launch is coming. I will need your help. You don’t need to like me. You don’t need to approve of how I use my person. But if you find the ideas and visons interesting, I ask you to criticize them, help me improve them, share them and give them the attention thy need to grow.
Last week we started the private alpha. I was in Berlin to meet Bruno and fix last things together. The whole team was in a good mood and I think we started at the right time. Some weeks ago some core features simply didn’t work. Waiting any longer would have hurt the team and the product.
We planned to invite 10 to 20 close contacts who are familiar with startups to find technical bugs and test basic user experience. I didn’t expect them to overrun the platform but hoped for a bit more activity than we got. There was already some feedback but not enough. I am not sure if I designed the Alpha too complicated (facebook group for communication and two files with FAQs and Usecases), if the platform is too complicated (we don’t do social media procrastination but provide tools to change how people organize and do work) or the people simply didn’t have time/interest. Yesterday I wrote personal messages to them and tried to get some information about these issues. On the other hand I don’t want to be too intrusive.
If you are interested, you can join our Alpha Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/workio/
This has nothing to do with Early Access Signup we provide on the landing page as the platform is full of bugs and we operate with virtual money. Probably we will even erase all data from the platform before we launch. Everyone who has signed up for early access will get informed as soon we launch the public beta.
- I want to change the world.
- I am bad at working for others. As a freelancer and as an employee.
- If I think something needs to be done, I prefer to do it myself than to ask others to do it.
- I don’t care for money as long as there is enough to not worry how I will visit the people I love.
- I like to be responsible for my actions and be able to right the wrongs.
- If I fail I will feel better than if I haven’t tried.
- If I succeed we all win.
- I believe.
The first twenty years of my life were focused on education. My time horizont ended with the next term. When I moved to Vienna I had no clue what to study. I was registered for informatics, started economics and ended in communications. I read a lot about different jobs and got some insights at university. Most of them from people who tool a completely different path but said it should be possibly with our degree too. I knew that my degree won’t limit what I will do. Most stuff happend through contacts. From talks at events and companies to appearance on television. I made some money from blogging. Over time I stopped worrying about what I will do with my future and started to let it happen. I got in contact with interesting people and tried to help them. I worked for some. I never thought I will end up with one occupation. Startups always fascinated me. Those people who jumped on an unsolved problem and gave it a try. Failing and trying again. They need to adopt fast enough to new circumstances. Data helps but doesn’t solve. Decisions are neither wrong nor right, but need to be made. One more step and you could fail. Stay still and you will fail for sure.
Over the last months I troubled myself often. I stood still and risked the bets of the whole team. It’s time to move faster.
Long story short, if we were in the same room, after I put all my documents on the table and explained my thoughts, he would have thrown them on the floor, put one clean sheet on the table and told us to focus on this single problem.
At the moment the developers do their best and we come closer to launch date. At the same time I am motivated but don’t feel to be able to do much. Therefore I tried to think about stuff that comes later. Problem: As a startup we work on assumptions and every additional feature makes it more complicate to recognize the core problems.
As Andi said, it is good to think about the possibilities but we shouldn’t implement too much in the beginning as long as we haven’t verified our assumptions. I will keep on planning and making concepts but they will stay documents for the moment.
After using tumblr to recycle my soup.io posts since a year I will start to use it as my first public blog in english. If you followed me because of the images please head over to my soup and follow me there. I can’t provide you with a tumblr of it as the automatic import isn’t supported any longer.
Because I can. I am blogging since 2006 in german at 2-blog.net and was for some time quite successful. I still am. But who cares. Since some months I am part of work|i|o, a startup that tries to change how we work. My main role is communications at which I am awesome. In german. But my english sucks that much that I still have lots of problems with it and it makes me damn insecure. I was hiding, wrote concepts, planned stuff and everything but never went out there and told people how we want to achieve ALL the things.
This year is important to me and the startup. We need to get momentum. In the last months I was able to postpone stuff with stupid excuses. Now I am hungry and I want to see things happening.
My english is still bad but most of the people are able to understand what I am trying to say. Even if not they can always ask. Not doing anything won’t make me better. And it is just the language. I sometimes get told that I am still better than the majority of people for whom english is their first language. No excuse.
This is one of the few blogs where corrections about spellings and grammer are more than welcome. I can only improve myself if I get feedback. Of course you should correct me on a substantive basis too. If I write something wrong I hope someone will tell me. If you don’t want to do this in public shoot me a mail at email@example.com.
What to expect?
I don’t know. One reason for this was a post I wrote for the work|i|o blog which was too long, too unfocused and to unimportant. It will never be published there. But I think that I might still be interesting for some people who want to get the whole story. The content here will in most cases be centered around me. If you don’t like me or aren’t interested in what I do and think, you shouldn’t follow this blog. It won’t make you happy. To everyone else: Welcome to the future. If you have any suggestions use the comments or ask-a-question or mail.