From 0 to 100,000 users in 7.5 months — The only strategy you need

On 17th Oct 2016, we scored a first cricket match on CricHeroes. We crossed 100,000 users on 6th June 2017. It took us slightly more than 7.5 months to achieve this feat.

And the best thing, we achieved this growth with almost no PR and without spending big bucks on marketing. The app grew purely by word of mouth. Cricketers (our primary users) referred us to other cricketers and they referred us to some more and so on.

This proves the inherent value of the product.

Based on my experience working with startup founders for 13 years and facing multiple failures in our own startups, I believe many of us (founders) give very less importance to the inherent value of the product now a days i.e. being remarkable, and why should we?

With right traction strategies (Social Media, Online Ads, Blogs, etc), it seems comparatively easy to achieve our first 50k or 100k users. Glance through following articles to know what I am talking about.

35 Ways to Get Your First 100,000 Users That Actually Work
How to get your first 100,000 users. 9 practical tips.

Now don’t get me wrong, they give a lot of insights and does more good than bad. But the problem is, most of them do not talk a lot (or at all) about the importance of inherent value of the product (may be because it’s obvious).

In other words, we need to ask ourselves:

Are we building something remarkable? Will our users tell their friends about our product, incessantly?

If this is not the case, nothing else would matter. No traction strategies will give us a long-term success.

When Gmail launched, it was remarkable. It gave away 1GB of space compared to 200 MB of Hotmail; You never had to delete an email ever again.

When Facebook launched, it was remarkable. It allowed you to connect with your friends in the same university.

When Instagram launched, it was remarkable. It made you look a much better photographer than you actually were.

When AirBnB launched, it was remarkable. It offered better, cheaper rooms and made you a hotelier even if you owned just one room with an extra bed.

When KickStarters launched, it was remarkable. It allowed you to raise money for your project without diluting anything or any collaterals!

When these products launched, people kept talking about them incessantly!

Seth Godin has written an entire book on this topic— “Purple Cow”. It talks about transforming your business by being remarkable — a must read for startup founders.

Purple Cow

If you haven’t read the book (or don’t want to read it), at least read this excerpt by Fast Company and this article by the author himself.

So was CricHeroes remarkable, when it launched?

Well, I think so. Not only it allowed cricketers to score their local cricket matches and broadcast scores LIVE ball-to-ball just like an International Cricket Match, it also made them better cricketers during the process.

It automatically created cricket profile of every cricketer. The profile had all their matches, statistics, awards, teams, photos, etc.

It gave them recognition and made them feel like International Cricketers.

One of our early adopters beautifully said:

You’ve lifted the spirit of many players with this app. Everyone wants to perform and get recognised. As Milton said beautifully once, “The desire for fame is the last infirmity of noble minds”.

Another user expressed his emotions (in Hindi) beautifully. The best admiration so far. Please excuse the background noise.

So this is about remarkability of the product but it should not stop there. We need to seize every opportunity of being one, for e.g. Support.

How should we handle our customer support?

I wanted to talk directly to my users so I kept my personal mobile number on the contact page of app from day one. I keep getting calls at odd hours but that does not bother me at all. The joy of speaking to my users directly, listening to their questions, inquiries, problems, and praises gives me a great satisfaction. It does not get old ever!

How many times have you spoken to the founder directly when you called customer support of some app?

There are multiple famous examples of companies and founders being remarkable in different ways.

Craig Newmark (now a billionaire) calls himself “Customer Support Rep” and “Founder” of Craigslist.

Zappos call themselves a “service company that happens to sell shoes”.

Amazon is obsessively customer focused and not product focused or competitor focused.

Well, I believe you get the drill by now but let’s just take one more instance.

How can we be remarkable in promotion?

If you study some of the remarkable promotional videos by companies, you will notice a pattern. Most of them are not product-focused i.e. they don’t talk about the product features in their videos. Instead they focus on their users and evoking emotions in them. Author of this article has beautifully summarised it as follow,

It should be about more than just the product. It should be about the problem, the solution, the experience, and the larger vision of what you’re trying to build.

Here are some examples of remarkable promotional videos.

Check out some more examples on this article by Hubspot.

In my case, I always believed that amateur cricketers are the real HEROES of Cricket. Indian cricketers enjoy a godlike status just because there are millions of amateur cricketers playing and following the game with equal passion, if not more. That means each and every activity of ours should focus on recognising their talent and contribution to the game.

We came up with following — a 2-min video paying tribute to passionate amateur cricketers. The idea was to ignite the passion of these cricketers and make them realise their true worth.

It went viral on Facebook and Whatsapp and we saw considerable increase in the number of new users. First 50000 users came in 6 months. Next 50000 users came in 1.5 months after that. This video played a major role in this achievement.

Now, I am not claiming that you don’t have to do anything else. You still need a great team, big enough market, right timing, etc. CricHeroes is fortunate to have a fantastic team, who has created a very solid product. Market and timing are yet to be tested fully.

The strategy of being remarkable has worked for CricHeroes so far and helped us reach 100,000 users. I will stick my neck out and say, this will work for us to reach 1m users as well.

Be remarkable, always!

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