Knowledge Sharing · Enterprise software

How to get your first Enterprise Customers as beta users?

Nishant Pant Serial Entrepreneur, Software Architect /Founder /Hardcore Developer

January 31st, 2015

I am the founder of an "Enterprise Knowledge Management & Search" startup and we are getting ready for a private beta.

I am looking for advice on how to reach out to companies or teams within companies (the product can be easily be used just in a team inside a company too and does not need company wide adoption to be useful) who can become our Beta Users and potentially move on to becoming real customers.

I have read advice so far which is very vague like "talk to your potential customers", "interview them", "find street customers" etc, I agree to all of those, but my question is which channels are good for finding them in the first place?

We registered our site on and are beginning to see some interest from there. What other channels/options do I have?

Dick Hardt

January 31st, 2015

1) Ask all your friends and past work colleagues. 2) Get some press on your company and vision and announce your beta and you may get some inbound. 3) Use the same techniques used in outbound sales. Identity a contact at a potential customer and send them a concise personal email.

Rob G

January 31st, 2015

In-bound is good but don't stop there. I would focus on departments of larger companies as u don't want to go through a formal Corp purchase process...not yet. Have your team dig through their networks as the low hanging fruit will be someone your team has a relationship with. Smother them with support to be sure they are successful. Much easier to get 10 more "customers" within 1 company than it is to get 10 more companies on board . Sales orgs within large software companies would seem like a good fit.  As these sales Orgs are selling to a wide range of prospects they r constantly looking for tribal knowledge within their company about the industry, the competition, etc. I would have killed for a product like yours when managing large software sales teams!

Nishant Pant Serial Entrepreneur, Software Architect /Founder /Hardcore Developer

January 31st, 2015

I am so thankful and amazed by the quality of answers you all have posted here so far. It is amazing how the startup community is so close knit and always willing to help each other. I have talked to friends and past colleagues from previous jobs, and most of them haven't even bothered to take time out of their busy lives. But then I see people here who I don't even know, willing to offer real and heartfelt advice for no personal benefit. It is just heart warming. Thank you all again!

Alex Ermolaev Founder at TeamCamp

January 31st, 2015

The first sale is always hard and time consuming. You have no credibility yet. The software is not perfect. None of the sophisticated lead aquisition and sales techniques will work super well. Basically, you are looking for people who would do you a favor. So, start looking for people who might be willing to do you a favor for some reason - your friends, former co-workers, family members and etc. You don't need to be super picky which companies you approach. Sometimes you can meet people like this at industry events, but remember that people are doing you a favor and, therefore, it is up to you to make sure they feel appreciated.  

Travis Russi

March 12th, 2015


TL;DR; - Get very clear on your value proposition first.  Then find the right/best customer.  Then get hyper-focused on a few, perfect customers and figure out how to position your solution to get them as paying customers.

Your ICP is way too broad.  You can't boil the ocean. Get hyper-focused on your target market.

Forget your 'credibility issues'.  Forget trying to find 'beta users'.  Forget getting feedback from friends & family. 

Find 10 specific organizations that are absolutely DYING to find a solution to the problem you are solving. Spend all your guerrilla marketing gusto on getting them as customers.

Forget giving away a free anything.  Nobody values free.  You want customers, not users.  You need to validate with customers.

Find a way to articulate the value you provide to make the cost a no-brainer.  Your site's copy doesn't get anywhere close enough to communicating the value to the customer.  It's all focused on the product.  Don't make the visitor guess why they would use it.  Tell the 'why' before you tell the 'how'.

Gregory Stromberg Founder/CEO cannedwater4kids inc.

January 31st, 2015

I have someone you can contact. Send more info on your product. Sent from my iPhone Greg Stromberg Cell 414-791-2450

Nishant Pant Serial Entrepreneur, Software Architect /Founder /Hardcore Developer

January 31st, 2015

My last question where I provided more info was deleted by the moderators as "self-promotion". I am concerned the moment I give more info, they will do the same again.

But I will try to provide a one liner. The product is "indexedmind - a search engine for finding people, talent, skills and most importantly knowledge inside organizations".


David Morse VP of Sales at Censio

January 31st, 2015

Nishant - 
  • What is your ideal customer profile?
  • What are some use cases?  ("search engine for..." is too broad and non-specific.  what problems are you solving and who has them?)
  • What is the price of your product?
  • How much effort is required to implement and integrate your product into their operations?
Answer these and I can give some relevant advice.


Nishant Pant Serial Entrepreneur, Software Architect /Founder /Hardcore Developer

January 31st, 2015

Thanks Dick!
For David, here is the reply.
  1. What is your ideal customer profile - Any team or company with more than 10 people. That is when you start losing track of "tacit knowledge" that people are holding.
  2. What are some use cases? -
  • Want to know who knows about "Groupon Promotions" in your company? or maybe someone who has done "Facebook advertising" in the past, or who is the resident Java expert? - Start typing ..."face" or "grou"... and you will start seeing people or projects who know are associated with what you are looking for :
  • Start asking questions about projects or processes - and experts linked to the projects will get notified to answer your question. All QnA collected becomes searchable as part of the enterprise wide search. 
How much is the pricing? Product is in beta and free at this time. Pricing is not published yet but will be competitive (per employee for bigger organizations flat fee)How much effort is required to implement and integrate the product? - We spent a lot of time in making it completely effortless for people to use the product  because the biggest problem with organizations is employee adoption. Because the product is designed to be viral and invites people to join as you go about doing using the site. eg. You add "Steve Jobs" as an expert for a project. The product will send an email to Steve Jobs in your company to join the website. It will be then prompt him almost holding his hands to do the needful. search.png

Ian Gotts Founder at Q9 Elements

January 31st, 2015

If you are selling something innovative to enterprise customers, you need to read this.  It is an abridged copy of a book called IMPACT. BTW I am one of the co-authors.  

IMPACT summarised in 5 sentences:

Our 25 years of research has shown that every buyer follows a universal buying process, irrespective of industry, country or market and we have distilled this process into 6 steps; IMPACT. Idea, Mentor, Position, Assess, Case, Transaction.

The buyer of your disruptive and innovative solution is the Early Adopter (Geoffrey Moore; “Crossing the Chasm”). Early Adopters talk to vendors at the Mentor stage and work with them through to Transaction. Sadly most early stage companies try to engage their buyers as though they were Early Majority, which is not until the Case stage. With disastrous results.

The purpose of this book is to enable you understand what is happening for your Early Adopter customer through the IMPACT cycle and how to engage with them so that it all makes sense and becomes repeatable.