20 Startup Founders Share How They Acquired Their First 100 Customers

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A business’s first 100 customers is a huge milestone, setting a foundation for the company’s success. Determining the best way to obtain your first 100 customers depends on the type of startup you’re operating and your marketing strategy. We’ve asked numerous founders to share their advice to help you decide on the best strategy for acquiring your first customers. After all, if you want to learn something, sometimes it’s best to talk to those who have already done it.

Entrepreneurs Share How They Acquired Their First Customers

Whether you’re a skincare or music tech startup, establishing a method for attracting your first 100 customers is an important step in ensuring your startup success.

Recommended: Learn how to launch your own company by reading our comprehensive guide, How to Start a Startup.

1. Parallel Health, Natalise Kalea Robinson

Industry: Skincare, Beauty Tech

”Word of mouth. It has been incredibly inspiring to hear people's stories of why they really need this test and effective products.”

Read more about Parallel Health by visiting its company profile.

2. Hast, Elliot Cao

Industry: Cookware

“We did a Kickstarter campaign.”

3. Pabio, Carlo Badini and Anand Chowdhary

Industry: Interior Design 

“We started by sharing our website and product with our friends and family, and our first few customers came from there. Since we raised our pre-seed round early on, we had enough cash in the bank to start growing via digital ads, so most of our first customers found us online, liked our value proposition, and decided to rent their furniture.”

Read more about Pabio by visiting its company profile.

4. Zilio, Andrew Kwok

Industry: Fashion Tech 

“We've signed up nine fashion labels so far through warm introductions. Our first 100 users came from our Pilot in BY BETTINA LIANO's online store.”

5. Pepper the App, Jake Aronshead

Industry: Food Tech, Apps 

“We started with giving creators exclusive access. They helped us get 1,000+ users in the first two weeks.”

Read more about Pepper the App by visiting its company profile.

6. Linguix, Alex Lashkow

Industry: Edtech 

“Content marketing and promos like launching on Product Hunt.”

Read more about Linguix by visiting its company profile.

7. Chaos Audio, Landon McCoy

Industry: Music Tech 

“We set up a ‘VIP’ reservation funnel where our audience could reserve their pedal at a discounted price in exchange for a $1 reservation fee. This resulted in a surge of backers for our Kickstarter campaign at the very beginning, surpassing 100 sales in less than 24 hours.”

Read more about Chaos Audio by visiting its company profile.

8. Bottle+, Christian Käser

Industry: Sustainability, Consumer Goods 

“With our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter! Within a few hours, over 100 people pre-ordered Bottle+.”

9. Tango, Ken Babcock, Dan Giovacchini, and Brian Shultz

Industry: Employee Management 

“Referrals have been the primary driver of early customer growth.”

Read more about Tango by visiting its company profile.

10. Nektar.ai, Abhijeet Vijayvergiya

Industry: Artificial Intelligence (AI)

“Word of mouth, network, outbound, early access program.”

Read more about Nektar.ai by visiting its company profile.

11. Blitz Checkout, Adel Nasser Abdalla

Industry: Apps 

“We told our friends who told theirs! Word of mouth goes a long way.”

Read more about Blitz Checkout by visiting its company profile.

12. AaDya Security, Raffaele Mautone

Industry: Cybersecurity

“All-in-one doesn’t mean one-size-fits-all.  We understand that different businesses have different needs -- we offer three levels of service to best meet our customers’ needs.  When we first began our company, we partnered with several customers across different verticals to really understand their wants and needs.  This was instrumental in designing and building our product.  More than 90% of our initial design partners remain our customers today.  We also have several partners that we work with who recommend our product to their customers.”

Read more about AaDya Security by visiting its company profile.

13. Rinseroo, Lisa Lane

Industry: Petcare 

“We initially applied to the Grommet and were approved to sell on their platform. They have a huge following and help small businesses with good products launch. They placed a PO, showed it to their customers, and the Rinseroo really took off. From there, it was picked up by Buzzfeed, and then we got a great ranking on Amazon. Ever since then, we have been on an upward trajectory.”

Read more about Rinseroo by visiting its company profile.

14. Rentround, Raj Dosanjh

Industry: Real Estate Tech 

“The initial outreach was done manually — cold calling agents. This provided little success. Purchases [via] email lists also fell flat due to low response rates. By far the best method to obtain the first 100 customers was through influencers and bloggers talking about Rentround. I'd offer cash incentives as well as free research to be featured in certain articles and posts.”

Read more about Rentround by visiting its company profile.

15. Realworld, Genevieve Ryan Bellaire

Industry: Edtech, Apps 

“Before launching our direct-to-consumer platform, we had an educational course that we sold to college career centers and alumni offices. Through those partnerships, we were able to build a pipeline of young adults who turned to Realworld for their adulting resources, and that's where we gained our first 100 customers.”

Read more about Realworld by visiting its company profile.

16. So Syncd, Jessica Alderson and Louella Alderson

Industry: Apps 

“Building a following on Instagram!”

Read more about So Syncd by visiting its company profile.

17. Scrapp, Dan Marek

Industry: Sustainability, Clean Tech 

“Through leveraging email marketing and growing our Instagram community.”

Read more about Scrapp by visiting its company profile.

18. Anapi, Ruth Haller

Industry: Insurtech 

“Partnerships with VCs and Accelerators, referrals, and cold calling through LinkedIn.”

Read more about Anapi by visiting its company profile.

19. A Good Company, Anders Ankarlid

Industry: Sustainability, Consumer Goods

“PR was our best friend! We focused heavily on word of mouth and used Instagram and Facebook, using these platforms both organically and for ads. Also, we always had a strong focus on our customer service; they were fantastic at getting customers to review us on our website and Facebook.”

Read more about A Good Company by visiting its company profile.

20. e-gree, Keith Fraser

Industry: Legal Tech 

“We had early press releases regarding our launch. One of our advisory board members is Natalia Vodianova, a philanthropist, investor, and well known model. She was featured in various press interviews where she spoke about e-gree.”

Read more about e-gree by visiting its company profile.

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