Don’t Ignore Strangers: The Untold Secret of Our Startup’s Early Customer Base

In the embryonic stages of a startup, every founder’s vision is filled with the friends and family they imagine using their products. The mindset is that those who already know and trust us will likely be our first customers. But what if I told you that’s not always the case? For us, our earliest and most loyal customers were not people we knew. They were not the ones showering us with praises or feedback. Strangely enough, they were complete strangers.

From Strangers to Stakeholders

When we launched our Internet of Things (IoT) offerings, our instincts told us that our first customers would come from our immediate circles. But the opposite happened. The majority were people we had never met, who learned about us from someone else or stumbled upon our social media posts. Without a single request for a product demo or a questionnaire, these individuals took a chance on us. They were willing to pay for our solutions, no questions asked.

The Value of the Unknown Customer

The phenomenon of strangers becoming early adopters is not just surprising; it’s enlightening. These are individuals who don’t have any preconceived notions about us or our capabilities. Yet, they believe in the solution we offer enough to invest in it. These early adopters give us something invaluable: proof of concept. With them on board, we have tangible evidence that our solutions have market value, a powerful tool to attract more customers.

Trust, But Verify

While we are grateful to have these strangers believe in us without solicitation, it’s also a double-edged sword. The absence of initial feedback means we have to be extra cautious, constantly iterating and improving to ensure we meet the expectations that these customers have implicitly set by trusting us.

Why Strangers Matter

The power of these unknown first customers lies in their organic discovery of your product. There is no bias, no friendship obligations, just a straightforward transaction based on perceived value. The chances are high that if a stranger finds value in your solution, so will others.

Conclusion: Don’t Ignore the Unknown

While it’s natural to expect friends and family to be your first customers, don’t overlook the potential in strangers. These are the people who can give you an unbiased evaluation of your market value. They can be your best advocates, and they bring in an added layer of credibility when pitching to future prospects. We owe a lot to the strangers who became our early customers; they gave us proof, validation, and most importantly, the momentum to move forward. So, don’t ignore strangers; they might just become your most trusted customers.