Building in Public

Jon Reedy
2 replies
Building a startup from scratch is no easy task. On one hand, businesses want profit from consumers. Consumers want authenticity, and their needs met without feeling like businesses only want their money. The conflict of interest makes it challenging for a startup to market its product or service without appearing solely money driven. This calls for the need to have alternative methods for marketing and growing the startup. The build-in public method is a more hands-on approach that is perfect for avoiding issues of inauthenticity. In addition, it helps a startup bridge the gap between its product and the market. Below is an extensive guide on the build-in public approach to growing a startup. What is "Build-In Public"? Building in public is exactly what it says, you launch and grow your startup in front of your audience by publishing successes and failures, revenue numbers and KPI (key performance indicators). When startups build their product in public, they allow consumers to witness the building process from scratch. It is a way to gain the trust and favor of potential consumers without overselling themselves or appearing completely money driven. While consumers understand that businesses are after profit, they ideally don't want to feel as if a company puts their monetary needs over their consumer needs. Importance of the Build-In Public Approach This approach serves different purposes, including: Building in public leads to improved transparency Transparency helps a startup to solidify trust in its brand. The more trustworthy a brand is, the more authentic and less self-centered it appears to its target consumers. Unfortunately, most businesses hide their practices from the competition, which may seem relatively reasonable. However, in doing so, they are also hiding vital brand elements from their consumers. Therefore, a startup should strive to find the balance between transparency and security in a bid to promote a new product. Building in public allows consumer testing and review The building public approach allows target customers to test a startup's new product. Subsequently, they can provide valuable, constructive feedback to improve the product. Ideally, getting constructive feedback from your customers before fully launching your product allows for gains in features and benefits for your target customer. In addition, the build-in public approach is easier and much more effective than holding focus groups and never-ending market research projects to collect data. Once you have collected relevant data, you can iterate or even pivot the product to match your target audience's exact needs. Building in public helps you gain a loyal audience before the project launch The build-in public approach simply exposes your goals and processes to the public during the initial production stages. Ultimately, this is less costly than investing a lot of time, money, and effort in marketing. As an effective marketing strategy, the build-in public approach helps you gain a loyal customer base. Interested parties are likely to stay with your product through the development phase, give ideas for improvements, and finally purchase your product after launch. Building in public increases your brand authority The approach involves being constantly watched by prospective customers, other founders, and your competition. Inevitably, you are likely to appear and be considered as an expert in your field. Especially if your build in public approach runs effectively and smoothly with minimal errors. By sharing successes and failures, your audience is invested in your success and may step up to help. Building in public makes you more approachable An approachable startup makes it easy for investors and customers to want to be a part of your growth. As previously mentioned, this approach attracts and builds authenticity. Authenticity inspires loyalty. Consequently, the community that builds around you will then start to engage in straightforward and honest conversations about your business strategy and vision. Building in public also attracts top talent to your startup As your startup grows, so will your work. Some businesses would consider the build in public approach a reliable employee value proposition (EVP) strategy. By putting yourself in the public eye, you attract your ideal employees who want to join the startup and be a part of the journey. As a result, you spend less time and money searching for top talent, especially if your build in public approach effectively reaches a wider base. Most importantly, by attracting top talent to your team, you also attract new ideas and innovations to make your product even better. How to Build Your Product in Public Now that you understand the benefits of building in public, how do you implement and accomplish this approach? Below are a few steps you can take to build in public and gain product users. Socialize (Use Social Media) Use social media to gain followers interested in your sector. Whether Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even Tik Tok, share relevant information that gets people interested in your startup. Share your product's development and the product's concept photos or videos. Publicize your minimum viable product (MVP), share your current revenue/MRR/ARR and your goals. Share your company’s mission and values – anything to engage the community and help them understand where you want to go! While doing so, ask people for constructive feedback and improvement ideas. Your followers will feel more involved in the product's development and would want to test the final product. You may want to engage with other players in your industry. If they like your product, they may choose to share it with their audience. Be Consistent in Writing Content builds community. Most internet users read blogs and news posts. Writing helps to log your startup's progress. As such, it becomes easy to keep track of your milestones and to-do tasks. In addition, writing your ideas and challenges gives you a better understanding of them, allowing you to solve the challenges and expand the ideas. Most importantly, writing will grow your audience since your articles are more visible than social media posts. However, you may need to make good use of online tools such as content writing SEO to ensure maximum online exposure. Create A Podcast A podcast, like writing, may be consumed everywhere, allowing you to scale a bigger audience. In addition, it allows you to interview other experts in your industry, thus networking and helping to increase your brand awareness. Join Relevant Communities Different communities online are focused on entrepreneurs' progress. Quora and Reddit, where potential consumers go to seek answers from experts, have strong communities. Indie Hackers is a great place for new entrepreneurs, with a community of like-minded founders and side hustlers. You can share your progress on these platforms and receive feedback and advice along the way. Moreover, you can answer any posed questions, which helps to build your authority and expertise. Readers will then gain trust in you and what you have to offer them. Often, these communities tend to rank higher in search engines, meaning that the more active participant you are, the higher you place your product for increased engagement, potential leads, and sales. Livestream Your Progress Stream your live sessions and allow people to watch you while you work. Livestreaming helps you to get unedited real-time feedback and sharing of ideas. It is an important aspect of growing your startup since customers love to see how products are made. Customers love and are comforted by the idea of a human being behind a product. Therefore, you can appear more human by giving your audience auditory and visual engagement with you by live streaming. This helps to build a connection and healthy business-client relationship. Storytelling Telling stories is an art that brings people closer. Be open to your audience and tell them about your personal stories and how they connect to the product. Most importantly, be open about the setbacks as much as you are about the milestones. Real-World Examples It is easy to talk about the build in public concept. It’s an entirely different proposition to put yourself out there and share your vulnerabilities. Luckily, many of our fellow entrepreneurs have walked so that we may run. Twitter and Facebook are full of examples of companies and entrepreneurs building in public. If you want to grow your startup and market your product, there is no better way to reach those critical first 100 fans. Below are a few examples of brands that have implemented the building-in-public approach for notable product success. Superhuman The Superhuman email application is a highly sought-after product in the tech sector, commanding a $30 monthly subscription fee. Its strengths are speed and the feeling that its users are members of an exclusive club. However, some tech reviewers often find it a tad bit overhyped since its features are basic yet practical. But with a $260 million company valuation and over 100,000 prospective clients joining the waitlist to pay the subscription fee, what did they do differently? The product achieved its popularity and loyal customer base through a carefully planned build in public approach. Fast The Fast application allows users to centralize their online checkout processes. Instead of having multiple 2-FAs and passwords, the application allows you to go through your online checkouts with a single click. Since its 2019 launch, Fast has gained massive popularity in online shopping, regardless of the pre-existing one-click checkout APIs common in big names such as PayPal, Apple, Shopify, and Amazon. Fast achieved its status as a reliable application early in its Alpha and Beta stages, where the developers sought to eliminate common issues that consumers hated about online checkouts. By sharing the journey and soliciting feedback from potential customers, Fast was able to speed up the iterative process of building their product. Bottom Line The building in public approach is a highly effective growth practice for startups. It encourages authenticity and gains customers’ trust. In addition, the more your customers interact with, and feel a part of, the product during its initial production and development stages, the higher their chances of acquiring the final product. Ultimately, a startup looking to sell its product will benefit from this approach by implementing it as early as possible. Subscribe to our biweekly newsletter for more tips!


Gokhan Toksoy
Fintech, investment platforms
this is a good reading. thank you.
Jon Reedy
Owner and founder of Founder's Journey.
@gokhantoksoy33 Thank you Gokhan!