Beta testers for your product are key. You’ve spent weeks, months, perhaps even years slogging behind your keyboard writing the lines of code that are bringing your techno-baby into the world. You may have raised money based on the idea or an MVP alone, you may have a team behind you or be flying solo. You’ve rewritten every problematic error, and resolved every bug, and the final product is as close to your original vision as you believe it’s going to get.
But you’re not finished yet. There are still a few vital pieces left before you can take your baby out into the competitive market and begin offering it to the masses. First, you need to find the fabled beta testers for your product. These are people who understand the type of technology that you have created and are willing to try it out to see if it solves their pain points, does what it says it’s going to do, but most importantly that it works “out in the wild” in a native environment rather than in the development environment that you’ve been working in.
After your baby passes the beta tester phase, you need to find the early adopters, those key consumers in the tech world who have a strong desire to get their hands on new tech innovations before anyone else. But there’s one key issue: where do you find them?
Perhaps your friends & family aren’t tech-savvy enough to understand your product or aren’t in the target demographic that your product is suited for. You may have spent years toiling away between work and your startup, alienating yourself from friends, family, and the outside world in the hopes that it would all pay off when you release your product and become the next fabled unicorn startup entrepreneur.
So where does one find the beta testers and early adopters who are vital to the beginning phases of a tech startup? We will help you find them through the tips listed below.
Companies can’t exist inside of a vacuum unless, of course, you are an aerospace startup. Even if you are an aerospace startup focused on building technology to work in the depths of outer space, your company itself will still need partners, potential clients, suppliers, salespeople, and many others. Before you embark on your journey of building a new product and company, you have to have some idea of who it will be for, and the pain points that it will fix. If it’s just another product with no true differentiator, it isn’t likely to find much success.
If you do have a specific customer or industry in mind that your product will be sold to, that’s the best place to start. Whether through good old-fashioned networking or social media outreach, you can find people or companies within your target demographic that may be willing to help try your product out.
More likely than not you will have to offer some type of perk for them to work your product into their daily usage: a free lifetime subscription, heavily discounted pricing, or some other deal that will make it worth their time. As a strong bonus for using this option to find beta testers, early adopters, or both, if your product does what it says and solves their pain points, you may find yourself in the middle of a strong “word of mouth” campaign that works to your benefit.
As an additional bonus, you will start racking up logos of companies within your target industry that you can proudly display on your website as customers. People may be hesitant to try something new, but they are far more likely to give it a try when they see that people within their own industry have tried and liked it.
Product Beta Testers & Early Adopters-Specific Boards, Groups, Forums, and Websites
If you don’t have any close personal networks who could fit the bill and don’t want to bother with trying to find beta testers and early adopters directly, you can always crowdsource either by launching a campaign on boards, within groups, forums, and on websites that are geared specifically towards connecting new technology with beta testers and early adopters.
These are excellent options because the people who join these groups are already on board with being beta testers or early adopters. They know exactly what will be required of them, know that you will need their feedback and that there is a strong likelihood that the product will not be 100% perfect just yet.
We’re all more connected than ever before, and social media is a great way to reach out into the digital universe to find exactly what you are looking for. Unless you are directly connected to groups of digital natives and tech-savvy folks, it may not provide a lot of usefulness to simply post your need for beta testers on your own social media profiles and hope that the right people will step up to help you kick the tires on your new tech.
But if you are willing to do a little work, the platforms below provide an opportunity to find the exact community that you need.
Specific Facebook Groups
Facebook is probably one of the best platforms in the market in terms of group functionality, and it casts such a wide global network that active groups can have membership from all over the world. Whether you opt to look for a beta tester and early adopter-specific group or other groups that may be interested in or have a pain point that may be solved by your new technology, these are great places to find who you are looking for. Facebook groups are run by moderators, and each one has its own rules. Make sure that you read the rules and are ok posting your links within the group, or you may find yourself deleted and permabanned quickly!
Unlike some of the other platforms, you have to provide something of value in order to get something in return on Quora. But this question & answer platform has an excellent search function, which allows you to search specifically for anyone asking a question that could directly relate to your product or the pain point that you are attempting to solve. Quora is quite popular, and if you are willing to provide insightful and useful answers regarding your expertise on a subject, a link at the bottom of your response offering the opportunity to beta test or be an early adopter of your product could find a lot of traction there.
“The front page of the internet” has subreddits for just about everything imaginable and is extremely popular with the tech-friendly crowd. You have to build up some karma through comments and interactions in order to post in many of them, and you should be forewarned that if you don’t know much about Reddit or the way it works, the user base can be pretty fierce if you violate the rules. In the search for beta testers and early adopters, however, it can be well worth your time to learn the ways of Reddit and find subreddits that align with your product to post links for potential beta testers or early adopters to join your program.
You may think of Twitter as nothing more than a dumpster fire of political arguments, but there are a substantial number of influencers and tech intellectuals within the Twitterverse. There are also a substantial number of 3rd party lead generators that work through Twitter and could be great tools to search hashtags or find relevant leads who may be willing to participate and help you make your product the best that it can be before it hits the market.
LinkedIn has become pretty spammy lately, but it’s still a great way for you to find targeted leads from professionals. Most people who use LinkedIn as a professional profile, networking tool, or digital resume will have contact information within their bio. The platform itself can be searched to find the right people, whether based on their job, industry, or background, who may be willing to give your product a shot before anyone else and help you perfect it. It may be wise to contact them directly rather than going through LinkedIn, however, as some people aren’t prone to checking their account or LinkedIn mailbox often – and you’re in a hurry!
Good Old Fashioned Networking
The lockdowns forced everyone inside for years, and now that people are coming back out and events are coming back into the light, proper in-person networking is once again on the table to help make connections and grow your business. Industry conferences, trade shows, or conventions are all great ways to press the flesh and meet people or companies who may be willing to test drive your product and see if it will meet the demands of the marketplace.
It may seem a daunting or scary task to let total strangers play around with your product and try their hardest to find any failures therein, but it’s a vital part of any technology that plans to one day go up for sale in the competitive marketplace. People will likely try to use it in other ways than what you’d imagined (remember, after all, Facebook started as merely a platform to gauge the attractiveness of Harvard co-eds), and they will try it on systems different than what you’ve been working in or using, and they will have a variety of different setups & environments that are all necessary components of ensuring that it will work for paying customers once you release it.
Thankfully, there are people out there who love nothing more than getting their hands on technology or having the proverbial “first look” at something before anyone else. The digital landscape has created places for people of the same persuasions but separated by massive distances to all come together to share in their joys, and beta testers & early adopters are no different.
If your new technology product is ready to move into this phase but you don’t know who to turn to in order to ensure your product is ready to hit the market, use the tips listed above to find your beta testers & early adopters where they are!