Our Space Blog

How 5 Successful Start-Ups Won Their First Clients

Posted by Megan Hanney on June 6, 2017
Megan Hanney

Topics: Tips for Success

Sometimes the hardest part of establishing a new company is gaining your first client, customer or user. We’ve explored how 5 successful start-ups used different approaches to succeed to help you on your way.


  1. Tinder: Present and encourage downloads in person

In an interview with Bloomberg Technology it was revealed that the company’s CMO, Whitney Wolfe, would visit sorority groups, deliver a presentation and get all of the girls to install the app. After that, she’d go to the corresponding brother fraternity who would open the app and see the attractive girls they knew. Before Wolfe’s trip, the app had 5,000 users but afterwards this had multiplied to 15,000 users.


  1. Dropbox: Referrals, referrals, referrals

 We explored Dropbox’s Start-up Lessons Learned to discover their strongest strategy was word of mouth. They started out with paid advertising, but their cost per acquisition was up to $388 for a $99 product… fail. They turned things around in 2010 by sending 2.8 million direct referral invites. 

 They gave users better tools to shout about, devised a 2-sided incentive referral programme (increasing sign ups largely driven by $5 PayPal sign up bonus), sought help from Sean Ellis on big wins by exploring surveys, split tests, sign up optimisation and also invested lots in data analytics.  Through this strategy, the company's user base went from 100,000 to 4,000,000 in 15 months.


  1. Etsy: Word of Mouth Wins Again

 Estsy became an online craft fair worth$195.6 million in just under 10 years. Through word of mouth, the company has reached over 54 million registered users. With competitors including Amazon and Ebay, they carved out a niche market for handmade, vintage items. 

 They reached out to craft community platforms with large user bases so that by the time they launched, they already had people raring to join and get involved. 


  1. Foursquare: Guerilla Marketing

 Exhibiting at SXSW, one of the world’s largest creative conferences, Foursquare set themselves apart from others. They didn’t have $11k to spend on a campaign like Twitter did, nor did they have the average corporate exhibitors booth. 

 Instead, Foursquare gained 100k new users through the conference by creating an actual game of “four square” for attendees using chalk and 2 rubber balls. Dennis Crowley, FourSquare’s CEO, stated: “Anytime someone didn’t know what Foursquare was, we helped them find it on their phone. We helped get them up and running and using it.”


  1. Groove: Contacting Departed Customers

 Amongst many other techniques, the most noticeable technique used by Groove to acquire more customers, was to contact old ones. Alex Turnbull, CEO, highlights the importance of reaching out to customers who had left and chosen other competitors. 

 Groove would ask them to kindly share their reasons for choosing the competitor, allowing them to, first of all, fix the problems pointed out and, second of all, convince the departed customer to give the company a second chance once it had been fixed.groove.png

At Our Space, we have a Community Team dedicated to running an incredible events programme which members can attend or host, allowing the opportunity to hear more Founding stories such as those above. Learning from fellow entrepreneurs is usually one of the fastest ways to progress. If you’re interested in becoming a member, don’t hesitate to free one day pass at our first location in Marbella, Spain.


leave a comment

subscribe to email updates

be the first to know

offers, updates and more