How to find your first customers for $0

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Good morning! This is The Zero to One. Think of us like your local bakery - always serving fresh goods. Plus we smell great (you’re just gonna have to trust me on this one).

Here’s what’s in store for you today:

  • ICYMI: How Million Dollar Weekend became an Amazon bestseller.

  • Where you should look to find your first customers for $0.

  • Videos and articles to take your business to the moon.

  • Opportunities for you and your business to take advantage of.

  • Top tools for your business.

  • Cool jobs currently open in the startup world.


Last week I did something a little different. Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo, gave me a BTS look at the launch strategy of his new Amazon Bestselling book, Million Dollar Weekend.

I think it’s a super insightful look behind the curtains of how an experienced entrepreneur approaches a GTM strategy.

It’s been one of my most loved editions to date. So I’m going to see how I can incorporate more similar GTM deep dives going forward!

The three places to look to find your first customers for free

Back to one of my favorite Creators and Entrepreneurs to learn from - G, founder of Lempire, breaks down super practically how to find your first few customers for FREE. Here’s my take on it.

There are three types of potential customers you can reach out to, to get your first few customers:

1. Hot Leads

People who are already highly interested in your product or service.

Hopefully before launching, you did some market research - reaching out to potential target customers and speaking to them about their problem (that you are trying to solve).

And now, because you have built a solution to the problem they need solving, you want to reach out to them again. This time with your solution.

Essentially these are the people who you have already built trust with and thus, are much more likely to buy your product or service early on.

But, if you didn’t speak to too many people before launch, it can be other types of people - for example, ex-clients you’ve engaged with at previous jobs or ex-customers at previous businesses.

2. Community Leads

People who you can find a connection point to, to increase your closing rate.

There are tons of people who are a great fit for your product - think Personas or ICPs.

To find these people, you need to become a part of the communities and networks they spend time in and eventually make conversation from there.

This might sound vague, so to be practical, here are some examples of communities:

  • Facebook groups

  • Local events in your industry or niche (e.g., early-stage startups)

  • Co-working spaces

  • LinkedIn and Twitter (great for finding a community)

  • Reddit (subreddits like r/startups)

  • Slack groups

Integrating yourself into a community around your niche is super important to learn how people speak, how they act, and what their problems are.

3. Cold Leads

People who aren’t aware that your product or service exists.

This is often the one people associate with sales. And it’s for good reason - Most of your potential customers are in this bucket.

It’s also the bucket people have the most anxiety about.

Cold outreach can be intimidating and hard. There is a lot of rejection and ghosting.

There’s a trick to make it easier though: Find a common point of interest.

One example of this is to send cold outreach DMs to people who interact with Creators in your niche. This way you know they are the right type of person and are already engaging with similar content to you - now it’s about reaching out to enough people like this to book meetings.

Lempire, G’s company, has great tools for this. I personally use Taplio and Tweet Hunter and have used Lemlist in the past - they are all awesome. If you do any sales or content on LinkedIn and X check them out!

G uses some really practical examples, with message templates and outreach tactics - They are super useful and if you’re looking to get your first few customers, I highly recommend giving the full video a watch!

Videos or articles to help your startup go from Zero to One 📽️

  • What we can learn from YC’s W24 cohort (link)

  • How to run successful employee reviews (link)

  • How much should you have saved up before going all-in on your business (link)

  • How this Creator got 5B views with this proven formula (link)

Learn how to become an “Intelligent Investor.”

Warren Buffett says great investors read 8 hours per day. What if you only have 5 minutes a day? Then, read Value Investor Daily.

Every week, it covers:

  • Value stock ideas - today’s biggest value opportunities 📈

  • Principles of investing - timeless lessons from top value investors 💰

  • Investing resources - investor tools and hidden gems 🔎

You’ll save time and energy and become a smarter investor in just minutes daily–free! 👇

Founder Opportunities 🛎️

  • Google for Startups, Africa Accelerator: A 10-week-equity-free accelerator program for Seed to Series A startups based in Africa or developing Africa-centered solutions. The program runs from Jun-Sep. The deadline to apply is 20 May (link)

  • EU Startup Summit: Showcasing some of Europe’s most exciting startups, gathering over 2k founders, investors, corporates, and enthusiasts, the event is a great networking opportunity for those involved in the European startup ecosystem. The event is in Malta, 9-10 May (link)

  • Techstars Deep Tech Berlin Accelerator: Accelerator program for Deep Tech founders, focused on verticals including Novel AI & ML, Space, and Climate Tech. The program runs from Sep-Dec. The deadline to apply is 22 May (link)

  • Techstars Boston Accelerator: The program leverages the experience of the Boston ecosystem to accelerate the growth of disruptive innovations in the areas of health tech, sustainability/climate/AgTech, and AI. The program runs from Sep-Dec. The deadline to apply is 22 May (link)

  • Founders Inc: Investing the first check (up to $150k) into founders building emerging tech. The program is aimed at helping you transition from builder to founder (link)

Tools of the week 🔨

  • Drippi AI: Automate Twitter/X outreach messages

  • Cabal: Collaborative network for startups and investors

  • Draftboard: Get more customers by open-sourcing referrals

  • Brex: Spend smarter with this AI-powered platform

  • GetMunch: Create more content with AI video repurposing

Cool startup jobs I found this week 🕵️

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