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This is a summary of a YouTube video "How to Get Your First Customers | Startup School" by Y Combinator!
4.8 (79 votes)

Founders should focus on demos, outreach, and doing things that don't scale to close customers and drive growth when starting a startup.

  • 🚀
    00:00
    Founders must manually recruit customers and find creative ways to do so to get their startup off the ground, as explained in Paul Graham's essay "Do Things That Don't Scale".
  • 🚀
    02:18
    Founders should stay the course, learn sales, and focus on the minimum viable product to reach market fit.
  • 💳
    05:32
    Brex provides a corporate credit card with no personal guarantee and no annual fees for tech companies, and encourages plain text emails to address customer issues.
  • 📊
    07:19
    Track prospects and store contact info in a CRM to ensure successful customer retention.
  • 💰
    10:31
    Focus on the easiest customers and leverage your network to make sales easier.
  • 💰
    12:35
    Focus on finding the right customer and offer a money back guarantee instead of free trials in B2B sales.
  • 📊
    15:24
    Track conversions with a CRM to understand drop-off percentages and identify areas of improvement.
  • 💰
    18:22
    Focus on demos, outreach, and doing things that don't scale to close customers and drive growth when starting a startup.
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Key insights

Founder Sales Strategies

  • 💰 "Founder should be the ones doing sales in the beginning."
  • 🚀 It's the founders who stay the course and don't give up that eventually reach the promised land of crack Market fit.
  • 💰 Founders should learn how to do sales because it gives them full control of their startup's destiny and they shouldn't hire a sales team until they know what good looks like.
  • 💼 Founders who are passionate about solving customer problems are more likely to succeed in sales and attract customers.
  • 💰 "If you don't charge your customers they are not a customer and you don't have a company."
  • 📈 Successful startups understand that sales is ultimately a numbers game and work backwards from their sales funnel to ensure they have enough leads to close deals.
  • 🤝 Founders should do the demos themselves to ask a lot of questions upfront and close their first customers based on their knowledge of the product and customer pain points.

Customer Acquisition Tactics

  • 🤝 Personalized value propositions, like Brex's focus on underwriting startups without requiring a personal guarantee, can differentiate a product from competitors and attract customers.
  • 💡 When describing your team and social proof, "remember to show not tell" and include specific examples like impressive companies you've worked for.
  • 💰 One specific email led to 22 different customers, proving the power of targeted outreach.
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Detailed summary

  • 🚀
    00:00
    Founders must manually recruit customers and find creative ways to do so to get their startup off the ground, as explained in Paul Graham's essay "Do Things That Don't Scale".
    • Paul Graham's essay "Do Things That Don't Scale" explains how Airbnb used the Y Combinator mindset to get their feet off the ground and become a successful startup.
    • Founders must manually recruit customers and continuously find ways to do so, as pushing a button on an advertising network is not enough.
  • 🚀
    02:18
    Founders should stay the course, learn sales, and focus on the minimum viable product to reach market fit.
    • Most companies launch on Product Hunt or Hacker News and then experience a decrease in energy as early adopters look for something new.
    • Founders must stay the course and not give up to reach the promised land of market fit.
    • Founders should learn how to do sales to understand their customers and have full control of their startup destiny.
    • The Brex founders asked themselves what the minimum product they could build to be useful to other startups was, and then signed up the first 10 customers.
  • 💳
    05:32
    Brex provides a corporate credit card with no personal guarantee and no annual fees for tech companies, and encourages plain text emails to address customer issues.
    • Brex offers a corporate credit card with no personal guarantee and no annual fees, targeted at technology companies.
    • Write concise emails with clear language addressing the customer's problem, using plain text instead of HTML formatting.
  • 📊
    07:19
    Track prospects and store contact info in a CRM to ensure successful customer retention.
    • Include social proof and simple website information about your product with screenshots and bullets to show, not tell, your expertise.
    • Prospecting or lead generation is the first step in the sales funnel, which involves making a list of customers to reach out to.
    • Track industry, company, contact info, and onboarding status of prospects to ensure successful customer retention.
    • Storing contact information in a CRM software is a good idea and can be outsourced if you know what you're looking for.
  • 💰
    10:31
    Focus on the easiest customers and leverage your network to make sales easier.
    • Focus on the easiest customers and prioritize those who are most likely to close, while taking advantage of your network to make sales easier.
    • Startups are easier to sell to due to their short decision-making lines and lack of bureaucracy.
  • 💰
    12:35
    Focus on finding the right customer and offer a money back guarantee instead of free trials in B2B sales.
    • To reach early adopters, you have to send more outbound messages and focus on them instead of trying to convince everyone to become an early adopter.
    • Customers paying you money is a great sign that you're providing them real value, so resist the fear of getting a no because of price and focus on finding the right customer.
    • Go for a money back guarantee and opt out option instead of offering free trials in B2B sales.
  • 📊
    15:24
    Track conversions with a CRM to understand drop-off percentages and identify areas of improvement.
    • Track conversions when sending outbound emails to understand drop-off percentages and identify areas of improvement.
    • Track data to measure success when launching a product or doing sales.
    • You need to track your sales conversion rate with a CRM to understand why sales isn't working and to identify early adopters.
  • 💰
    18:22
    Focus on demos, outreach, and doing things that don't scale to close customers and drive growth when starting a startup.
    • Founders should do demos to close their first customers, asking questions to understand customer pain points and using the product to drive growth.
    • Outreach is key to success in sales, and outsourcing sales is not the answer.
    • I recommend Apollo.io, Close.com, Pipedrive, Hunter.io, Founding Sales book, and Lineage Newsletter.com for sales tools and resources.
    • When starting a startup, focus on doing things that don't scale instead of jumping straight into scalable growth channels.
    • To get started with growth, identify where your target audience is online and use personal networks, sales, SEM, SEO, or virality/referrals to reach them.
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Q&A

  • How did Airbnb use the Y Combinator mindset to become successful?

    Airbnb used the Y Combinator mindset by manually recruiting customers and continuously finding ways to do so, rather than relying on advertising networks.

  • What is the recommended approach for founders to reach early adopters?

    To reach early adopters, founders should focus on sending more outbound messages and prioritizing them instead of trying to convince everyone to become an early adopter.

  • What are some recommended sales tools and resources for founders?

    Some recommended sales tools and resources for founders include Apollo.io, Close.com, Pipedrive, Hunter.io, Founding Sales book, and Lineage Newsletter.com.

  • How should founders approach sales in the early stages of a startup?

    In the early stages of a startup, founders should focus on doing demos to close their first customers, asking questions to understand customer pain points, and using the product to drive growth.

  • What should founders focus on when starting a startup?

    When starting a startup, founders should focus on doing things that don't scale instead of jumping straight into scalable growth channels.

This is a summary of a YouTube video "How to Get Your First Customers | Startup School" by Y Combinator!
4.8 (79 votes)