How to Get First Customers for Startup?

Building a product from scratch and finding the right product-market fit is a tough task. But as you are already here, reading our blog, it’s safe to assume that you are past that initial hurdle.

Nonetheless, building a good product isn’t enough, as a product cannot sell itself. Now the question that troubles every entrepreneur is, how to the get first customers for your startup?

Your venture cannot stay afloat for a long period if you are unable to identify the right profile of people who need your product. Because funding is often scarce in a young company, starting the revenue cycle is always the primary focus for any entrepreneur.

So, if you are struggling with the new business and no customers conundrum, here are six strategies that can help you:

  1. Identify the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
    Before you begin marketing your product, define the target audience for your product. Getting clarity on the segment of people that your product impacts directly can help you build a sustainable business model.

    Next, focus and evaluate various aspects of your target audience, such as which demographic is more likely to buy your product, where the majority of your target audience is located, and whether or not your product solves a problem that they frequently encounter. Identify their pain points and accordingly plan your go-to-market strategy.

    With the help of this ideal customer profile (ICP), you will be able to identify potential customers and build your first set of loyal customers.

  2. Be Where Your Customers Are
    If you have found your ideal customer but aren’t fully aware of where your target customer is, your marketing efforts will remain futile for the most part.

    Identifying the right medium for your presence is key to observing existing customer behavior and acquiring new ones. Finding the right online platforms to market your product is extremely crucial. You can start by observing people on Reddit threads, Twitter pages, and Instagram comments to understand how to position your product to get customers.

    If you plan to have more of an offline customer base, then plan your customer research at places where your potential customers might be. For example, pitch your idea on a college campus if your product is for young adults. If your target audience is families, explore malls and talk to them to better understand their pain points.

  3. Ask for Referrals
    This might be the oldest trick in the book, but asking for referrals has two primary benefits. It helps you connect with the customers that you might have had in your close network but weren't aware of, and it also creates buzz about your product through word-of-mouth.

    Take a look at your current network first. Talk to the people you know and the people they know. You might come across a few fascinating links among your friends and relatives, that could get the ball rolling for your startup.

    Apart from getting you your first few customers, this can also help create some anticipation and curiosity around your product.

  4. Create an Online Presence
    1. Building an online presence can help you form an individual identity for your brand. Platforms like Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, etc. get much more momentum with early startup clients than traditional marketing.

    2. Starting your social media pages before your product launch is an excellent approach to generating more curiosity around your product. Encourage your ICP to follow you on social media by using paid advertising, eye-catching organic content, or affiliate marketing on these platforms. Encourage them to tell their friends about it and spread the word.

    3. Create well-structured and optimized blogs on your website to get noticed when people search online for the products you sell. Write about your customer’s pain points and tell them how your product answers their problem. Very likely, a search engine will bring you your first customer. 

  5. Connect with Other Entrepreneurs
    1. The advice of someone who has already been in your shoes can make all the difference. Join networking sites as a startup founder to meet other business owners, many of whom may have useful connections that could accelerate your company's growth.

    2. Attend industry conferences and trade exhibitions to build valuable connections. A company that successfully employed this tactic is Etsy. The company's founders started it by visiting craft fairs and pushing sellers to build their businesses on Etsy's platform.

    3. Another lucrative option is collaborating with companies whose goods or services are compatible, not rivals, with yours. This can help you get access to potential customers.

  6. Last but Not Least, Create FOMO
    The fear of missing out has recently become a massive motivator for customers. The more exclusive a product is, the more people are intrigued by it.

    Holding invite-only events and product launches can benefit you tremendously. This will drive your promotion by word-of-mouth and get you new customers who don’t want to be left behind.

    If your product is incredible at solving an age-old industry problem, create a waitlist. This way, people will know that your product or service is sought after and that they should also get their hands on it.

    You can also do what Spotify did in its early years. Only allow existing users to invite new users. This not only helps you manage the growth of your platform and compels the initial users to stay but also creates a viral element that every early-stage startup needs. 


Getting the first set of customers for your startup can be tough, but it isn’t impossible. We hope that the methods suggested by us can help you get your first set of customers for your startup.

By building a strong relationship with your first set of customers, you can turn them into brand advocates for your venture. The age-old adage that ‘the customer is king’ is true for most businesses, and ensuring complete customer satisfaction can help you build a loyal customer base over the years.