I put up a launch page on LaunchRock, without writing one line of code and within
30 days CloudGirlfriend.com was listed on TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential
things of 2011, covered by Mashable, Cnet, PC World, PC Magazine, MSNBC.com,
ABC News, and a tons of international coverage. CloudGirlfriend.com was mentioned
by Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien, CNN and by radio stations across the world. We
received 850,000 unique visits and 85,000 registrations. We launched within 30
days and TechCrunch and many other new outlets covered out launch.
It is a story of an extreme lean start-up. It is born of quick pivots, long nights, an
incredible team and years of preparation. Did I expect the reaction we received?
No. Was the ride crazy? Definitely. Can you replicate the process for your idea? Of
My friend Kusno and I had a crazy idea. Create fake girlfriends for social networks
that would be managed by real girls. We talked about it for a couple of months.
When we talked to people about the idea they were always intrigued. We decided
to see if we could get anyone else to care. Maybe if 1,000 people were interested we
could convert 10% and build something with 100 users at go-live. We decided to
test the idea before we built anything. I encourage you to learn from my experience
and apply it to your project.
Step 1) Have a Compelling Story
You need a story that incites conversation. Our story was about social media,
technology, love, dating, gaming, and fantasy vs. reality. It is about how our world
is changing because of Facebook, Twitter, and online dating. These are disruptive
technologies that are changing society. Are we more connected now than ever? Or,
are we less connected personally? Nobody knows the answers, but everyone has an
Step 2) Understand Diffusion of Innovation
You need to know how technology is adopted. There are innovators, early adopters,
early majority, late majority and laggards. You need to target the innovators and
understand that awareness does not mean adoption. How many people use Twitter?
How many people are aware of what Twitter does? I first put a link on HackerNews
back to our launch page page. Why? Those are the innovators that are thinking
about my story. Find your innovators.
Step 3) Learn and use the rules of influence
Robert Cialdini wrote a great book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”.
This is a MUST read for everyone. The tools that I used in the beginning for
CloudGirlfriend.com were social proof and scarcity. The media attention reinforced
the social proof and introduced authority. Using these tools helped create
conversation, sharing and registrations.
Step 4) Use LaunchRock (or other launch page with viral functionality)
There is no way we could have received the traction and attention that we did
without LaunchRock. Sharing on Facebook and Twitter were crucial in being able to
gain awareness for us. The site is easy to use and should be the default landing page
for any start-up. What is great about LaunchRock is that you have to be so concise in
your message and this forces you to be clear and simple. We described our site in 4
Step 5) Understand Customer Development
This entire process is intended to test your hypothesis (idea). Two of them are
fundamental: the problem and the product concept. We received very valuable
feedback from the media and from users on both fronts. We confirmed the problem
that people feel disconnected in the online world and would like to find a way to
be able to connect to others in an unconventional way. We also received important
feedback from attorneys representing Facebook that impacted our product
hypothesis. (Cease and Desist) This forced us to change the product to solve the problem. Despite set-
backs, this means that the process worked! We discovered a lot about the problem
and the product. This is what you want.
This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. Up next- Recruit a Team and Build Something.