Hi! This’s Yakov, Founder @ Intch
Before Intch, I co-founded Sailplay — a Marketing Automation Platform for B2C companies which was recently acquired. I shared a part of the story recently here.
Long story short
Back in 2013, when we’d just started, we met the same problem as all B2B startups have: an MVP which is still pretty ugly, and yet you need to approach your first potential customers.
Your value proposition is not 100% clear, you don’t have big name customers, and you don’t have enough cases to prove that your product works.
That’s why our first acquisition strategy was based on our professional network. This is how we did it:
- We specified our target potential clients (food delivery companies, e-commerce, fashion, etc).
- Because we were from the IT industry, we didn’t have enough contacts from these verticals, but we had ex-colleagues, class mates, and so on, who did.
- So, we simply prepared a brief deck and started to call and message our peers.
Benefits of using your professional network
This approach worked perfectly well because of 3 key points:
- We approached people that we knew personally. They had trust in us, that’s why we skipped parts related to big names and discussed the concept and value.
- Our contacts had relevant people in their professional networks. So, each contact was able to introduce us to a few potential customers.
- When they did, conversations also started from a normal level of trust created thanks to the introduction. All people in this chain knew that we would do everything to achieve results. And the people who introduced us were able to confirm it based on our past experience.
That’s how we acquired our first 8-10 clients (design partners).
Btw. My best client is in the first row in the middle. Yeah, these guys also have a loyalty program.
This strategy was awesome. However, we ran out of warm contacts pretty fast.
And this is exactly the task that Intch can help you with.
How to acquire customers via Intch
Think about Intch as a trusted community where users specify their names, professional background, and all have their professional networks.
So, we don’t ask you to filter people by specific parameters and start cold messaging them (we actually ban accounts for this).
Instead we suggest you do the following:
1. Specify what kind of people you’re looking for
First, you need to decide who you want to approach. It’s not as straightforward as one might suggest. Think about it this way: what kind of people have contacts that we’re looking for.
Because it does not work like a display ads – Intch will not connect you directly with your potential customers, but it will connect you with people who are in contact with your potential customers.
2. Describe your request
This is the hardest thing, I know. We all want to post something like “I want to connect with XXX from YYY” and wait for the magic to happen.
Magic will not happen (at least in this way). Think about it: you build your product and that is why you think that everyone around must desire it.
But other people have their own context and it’s hard to switch.
That’s why we designed requests at Intch in this way — it looks like a short deck. More than that, for each type of request we prepared templates. You simply need to use it and fill it in with the information related to your project.
3. Pay for warm introductions
This is why this mechanism work. We give an option for professionals (our users) to monetize their professional networks. How it works:
- Based on the parameters you specified, Intch will select relevant users and will show your request to them
- Users will check your request, contact you and ask additional questions related to it
- Then, they will go to people that are relevant and will verify your offer with them
- Finally, they will make introductions via Intch with you
- If the introduction is relevant, you will need to click the button within the chat and the user will get his/her money for it
- Win-win-win: you get a warm introduction, the person who introduced you receives money, and the target customer has your product
If you have any comments or questions, please ask them below.
Check out the next article about creating a request.
I believe that without networking it is impossible to build a business and start selling. I support every word of the author.
Thank you for creating Intch )
Well, that’s how all startups begin – you start selling to (or with) your friends, then you get the word of mouth going and then you invest in marketing (if you can). But thanks for sharing your story, interesting insight from the founders themselves
Thanks for sharing, interesting framework
Yep, social capital is the most valuable capital – because it helps you earn in the future