How do you find people to interview when doing early product discovery?

Laura Luttmer
5 replies
Suppose you want to break into a new market or you want to source outside of your customer base. Do you use an app or service? LinkedIn? Forums?

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founder of mean-bean
It's a bit tough out there! I'll share my experience, maybe it helps. I was in the same position, really wanting to get to know more people I could speak to and broaden my horizons, but I really had no idea how to do it. So I first tried cold methods- posting on forums about what I'm doing and asking if anyone would be interested to speak, posting on LinkedIn, posting on the YC Startup School threads, slack channels, anywhere I could find. It wasn't very successful- especially via LinkedIn, as people see you immediately as a marketing agent and your message gets ignored. So I then tried going from the network I have and already know and asking them to share my call with others- this worked decently, but it doesn't give you a great deal of control regarding the types of people you are getting to speak to. Now, I am trying a much more personal approach, starting with the startup community as it is. It seems like a huge detour, but making friends amongst other founders and networking heavily actually broadens the people you can ask for help and their connections for potential user interviews. So, in a nutshell, take a personal approach- don't send standardized messages, try to get involved in communities, to comment, and to drive people towards what you want to validate.
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@andreea_bunica That's good advice. For some reason, I tend to forget about my personal network when doing user research, but you're right. They could be a great resource.
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I build and ship Physical Products
I definitely look for friends of friends to start out with. And if I can't find anyone connected to my target customer it means I need to go meet more people! For that I usually search LinkedIn for people with shared connections so I can get introductions.
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@jono_sanders Thanks. I've cold-contacted some people on LinkedIn, but requesting introductions from people I know is probably a much better idea.
Fintech | Startups | Automation
I've used forums and groups -- definitely helps to join and actively add value to the community first. Engage with the posts and if you can start building valuable relationships I think you'll find a more positive response than just cold posting :) Better if you know someone in any of those spaces that can support your ask or share it with their network as well. I have seen others examples of cold posts to forums/pages offering an incentive for feedback. As a bootstrapped venture we went for an add-value-first approach.
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