On early customers.
In a startup, you'll need to convince a close knit group of customers first before you can win a market. Generally, for tech products, these are NOT the mainstream customers because of the lack of risk appetite among many of them.
So founders need to leverage this tiny group called "visionary early adopters". These are the kind of users who are looking for the next cool thing and love to snatch it before it goes mainstream. Think the folks waiting in line outside Apple stores to try the newest iPhone.
The really rewarding thing with this group is how wildly open to giving feedback they are. Often times, if they like the vision, they accept even the 70-80% complete product and can fill in the rest with their imagination. Even better, if you can convince them strong enough, they are willing to put down a deposit/pre-order so they can get a piece of your product. They believe in you and the product NOT for what it is currently but what IT COULD BE in the future.
Tomasz Tunguz, in this blog post elaborates how else early adopters add value to you:
First, their activity rate proves the product solves their need. In other words, these users validate product/market fit.
Second, these power users can readily articulate the product’s shortcomings and because they use the product on a daily basis, this feedback is fast and frequent. This enables the product team to make small daily course changes to fine-tune the product and inform the longer term product road map.
Third, active users are the best to test pricing because they understand the value of the product since it solves their need. It’s simple for them to express their willingness to pay.
What else? What are some more ways you think early adopters add value in a startup's journey?