The benefits of being an early adopter

Exploring the value of being a first mover, connecting with founders and building a profile in a nascent community.

While reading through a Medium post a couple of months ago, I stumbled upon an email subscription form near the bottom of the article. I’m always thinking of how I can better convert readers to my newsletter, so it immediately caught my interest. Why? Because I had never seen an embedded form on Medium.

Up until then, I had been using a service called Rabbut, which embedded an image that looked like a form and when clicked, would open a new page with the actual form. The new service looked much better. I immediately signed up.

It’s called Upscribe and after signing up, I went to see how I could export collected email addresses. This service, like Rabbut, was geared at the bigger email newsletter services, like Mailchimp, but I’m an early adopter of a service called Revue. So I chose ‘Other’. I got an email from the founder:

So I told him about Revue and after a week he wrote me back, telling me he had added the integration. Super awesome.

Being an early adopter makes you a VIP

Early adopters are often services’ most important users. This may mean that you can interact directly with the service’s founders or chief product person.

Revue founder Martijn de Kuijper mentions that all the time they put into talking to their users is essential for feedback and validation of the product. A feature he says came directly out of user feedback is their recently launched Themes. “We got a lot of requests for HTML templates and customization options, so we developed a new feature that lets people add personality to their digests in an easy-to-customize theme.”

Other examples of how the Revue team connects with their community are a Slack channel, where they ask people for occasional feedback, but also keep the community connected, and an open roadmap on Trello, where users can see what features to expect and can give input on features through comments.

This means that as an active early adopter, you can have a lot of sway in the product direction of a tool and have it tailored to your needs, with a bit of luck.

Wil Benton, who founded Chew, a livestreaming platform for DJs and other personalities in music, feels that the “first 100/500/1000 users are the most important users you’ll ever have.” In part because you can’t think about everything yourself and users help you figure out things you missed.

He adds:

“Early adopters are critical to you going from janky MVP that only you would ever use to a product a completely random person on the opposite side of the world could (and would want to) use.”

Being an early adopter makes it easy to stand out

There are benefits beyond being an important voice for founders. If you’re active in a young community, it’s easy to build a profile for yourself.

Sales can be interchanged with users, or other metrics you’re tracking.

Be active, engage with others, and if what you’re doing on the platform is really good, you’ll build a following. This will get you featured. The power of being featured is that startups usually aim for something named hockeystick growth.

If you’re featured when the growth suddenly starts accelerating, you benefit from the network effect, because new users often end up following existing accounts, since they won’t have any friends on the platform yet.

Sebastien Lintz, who does digital for Hardwell, manages Revealed Recordings and Sorted Management, recently explained on a panel at Play & Produce in Ghent, that he had had a lot of success by simply being the first with quality content and a good strategy for new platforms, mentioning Musical.ly and Live.ly.

I’ve had similar experiences with Revue, where my newsletter was featured, and if I had more time, I’d love to build a profile on DJ / remix apps like Pacemaker and 8Stem.

Check them out.

Your chance to be an early adopter

I really recommend spending about half an hour a week on Product Hunt. It’s a place where people post new products and services, so you’re among the first to hear about them. If you want to be a super early adopter, you could even sign up to Betalist, where you can get early access to beta versions of products when founders need people to test their products.

And a special opportunity:

I’m working with a startup that’s building a tool to easily message large groups of fans on Facebook Messenger. The idea is simple: you onboard your fans, ask them for a few things like location and email address (just in case Facebook changes algorithms again), and then you can push personally relevant updates to fans about new releases or shows.

I’m going to be writing a lot more about this topic once we’ve got everything set up for you to give it a go, but if you’d like to get on the list and be among the first users: use this link.

Top image by Jurgen Appelo (CC-BY)


Written for my weekly newsletter MUSIC x TECH x FUTURE.

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