We were amazed at the awesome turnout for the New York meetup on Wednesday. About 100 people joined us during the course of the evening. Thanks to everyone who came and everyone who spread the word.

It was a wonderful opportunity to meet old friends and make new ones. I saw lots of people exchanging cards and making new contacts. I only wish I had more time to talk to everyone.

What I learned

First, a few folks said there aren’t enough mixers for entrepreneurs and investors in New York. Can you recommend your favorite New York mixers in the comments?

# Second, lots of people were wondering how to spread the word about their products. They’re putting the cart before the horse. Instead of spreading the word, figure out how to make a handful of customers (say 100) happy. How?

  1. Build a minimum viable product. If your market is big enough, it doesn’t matter if you piss of 10,000 customers along the way with a lame minimum viable product. If you’re really worried about your brand, market your product under a different name.
  2. Get the MVP into the hands of few people. Use Twitter updates, Facebook updates, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, standing on a corner, blogging, emailing bloggers, etc. to get your product in front of people and see if they make it to the finish line. If you can’t find 100 customers this way, it won’t do you any good to be on the front page of the New York Times.
  3. Iterate your product with these customers through surveys and interviews, until they think your product is a must-have. Yes, they might not embrace your product if you show them something too early ā€” that’s fine. Don’t fear the false negative ā€” just build the next version and test it again.

Once you’ve reached product/market fit in a large market, then you can work on the economics of acquiring users profitably. Don’t worry about acquiring customers until you solve a real problem in a big market. This is the theory described in Sean Ellis’ startup pyramid or Steve Blank‘s customer development model.

And if you don’t have the resources to build a MVP, put up a survey on SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo and start finding your earlyvangelists. You don’t need a technical co-founder to do this.

People I met

Here’s a brief description of some of the people I met. The list is missing many folks I met and others I didn’t get to talk to ā€” massive apologies. There’s a lot of people working on cool things:

Josh Kaufman is writing a book version of the Personal MBA.

John C. Akbari is a sales agent for hire for early stage financial services software companies. No salary, higher commissions.

Anton Litvinenko is building Programeter so managers can monitor software development.

Manish Vora just launched Arlo, an easy way for artists to build portfolio sites.

Deepak Kapur is building a product to help you get more Twitter followers.

Sarah Tavel is off the rugby field and on her grind at Bessemer Venture Partners.

Lincoln Ritter from LearnVC is building an online cap table for entrepreneurs and their employees.

Massimo LoBuglio is working on the “(RED) of carbon emissions.”

Trever Owens is a student at Stern and burgeoning entrepreneur.

Eli Chapman’s Mediatronica is a software and entertainment consultancy in New York.

Kevin Murphy’s is working on Beeing to add a real-time social layer to the links you share.

Christine Lemke is COO and co-founder at Sense Networks which analyzes large amounts of mobile location data in real-time to make recommendations.

Jason Yeh recently joined Riot Games as Strategic Marketing Manager and also enjoys cardigans.

Bill Cromie is working on headliner.fm which lets you virtually open for other bands.

Zach Harris is working on DiGiTS, a show about a pickup artist gone wrong (think Ali G crossed with Derek Zoolander).

Zoran Knezevic is working on Fragrantica, an online perfume community. He forgot to bring free samples.

What did you learn at the meetup?

Topics Meetup

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