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Denis Shatalin
Serial Entrepreneur & Founder Coach
Here are 2 of my recent issues:
Getting customers is simple.

There's no way you don't have them after putting these 3 elements together.

To get a paying user, we have to offer the right solution to the right person facing the right problem. If we get any of these factors wrong, a super easy deal becomes insanely hard.

We can have the best pizza in town, but our restaurant will go bankrupt if we offer it to people who've just come out from another restaurant.

To make the right person buy, we have to make it clear what we provide. Ideally, we'll fit our pitch in 1 sentence:

[Tornado] is an [instrument] for [mid-level business developers] that helps them [respond to clients quicker].

Let's break down three elements we need to reach such clarity:

1) Avatar

Avatar is our ideal customer. To find our customers we have to understand what their day looks like, what social networks they're on, which groups they're in. Canva would never go big if founders pushed it to experienced designers.

An incredible product dies if it doesn't reach the right audience (like our awesome pizza). We have to search for Twitter accounts / FB groups / subreddits where our avatars hang out.

It's easier to scale the startup solving our own problem because we already have the answers to these. If not - it takes 40 calls to find who needs the product most badly.

It's common to be unsure about our avatar at the start, but we'll still write 3 assumptions. We'll understand our avatar with every sale we make.

2) Problem

This is a pain our product is aiming to solve. People pay us when they save time and money. They don't pay us when they don't realize how we save their time and money.

9/10 startups die because they're not solving a real problem. Are founders stupid and don't know this? No. We believe in our vision and that the problem is real until the market proves we were wrong.

20 pre-sales help to avoid building a solution no one needs.

Scaling a startup is way easier when we're excited about the problem.

Working on something we don't relate to will turn us into a hotel manager that hates their guests.

3) Solution

Solution is "how" we're going to save time and money for our customers. Notion makes money by allowing us keep notes in one place. [Tornado] makes money by helping business developers reply faster and close more leads.

We’ll prioritize our problem over our solution. If initial users don't convert, it might be because we're offering them water when they're dying from hunger.

There's a single problem of people getting hungry and a million products that solve it.

By sticking to 1 problem (starving rugby players after the match), we have a high chance of hitting the right solution after a couple of tries.

If we don't give up after water, smoothies, and soups fail, we'll eventually offer the right product (pizza) to the right avatar (casual rugby players with no diet) at the right time (after the match).

Staring at the user count doesn't 10x their number


Answering these 5 questions does:

1) Can you decrease the time to value gap?

AirBnB made $3,3B in 2020. Their core function is available on the first screen. They doesn't ask you to create an account unless you see good offers. The faster you bring value, the more people benefit from your product -> more people refer it. Think how you can deliver in seconds.


2) Can your onboarding be better?

Zapier made a 7 step process intuitive. Their ARR is $140 million. Turn your UX into a tunnel where it's impossible to get lost. Users should run from signup station to value station and have no door to escape. Remove everything that helps them run away and take a driver's place in locomotive. MailerLite and Getresponse got it right.


3) Can you encourage more referrals?

Rewarding people for bringing new users brings phenomenal results. The boring option is to pay them for it. You don't have to be boring. I made my friend buy Call of Duty to unlock a unique gun. Come up with memorable rewards for signing up friends and you'll conquer Europe faster than Caesar.


4) Can you get amazing partnerships?

Partnerships are a fast-track to Monaco. Communities, influencers, and newsletters have 20 000 people hungry for your product. How do we get these partnerships? Easy. We grab attention of owners and impress them with our product. Show up such way they badly want to partner with you. Make it obvious they 5x their income with your product, don't even mention it. 50/50 affiliate works.


5) Do you have the right vision?

I spent 4 months scaling an app. I built on my vision and was deaf to users' feedback. Killed the product when all of them faded. Being besties with paying users saves our startup. It's tough to keep track of their birthdays. What's not tough is to write personal messages and show we care about them. Ask how you can serve users better and your startup will flourish.

It's time to scale your startup
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