I will be honest. As we slowly built the billing infrastructure for this product, I wasn’t entirely sure if people would pay. Every pricing experiment we’d done said the value proposition was there, but then you know how products with seemingly compelling value propositions fall out of favor once the free trial is over.
Over the past two years we had nailed down a known market need, built a functional prototype and ran a limited time ‘invite-only’ pilot. Our beta users loved the prototype.
But how do you really know when people love your product? How do you know that it really solves a problem that they really care about?
Try this. Ask for payment in return.
Everybody loves free things, but if you are paying for something in exchange for using it — it must deliver value. Enough value so the differential is in favor of the buyer.
So the question in front of us was
Will people really pay for our product?
The thing is, you can simulate as many ‘will they pay us?’ experiments as you like, but rubber doesn’t really meet the road until you’ve launched something real in the wild, and are asking for money from total strangers who are are evaluating your product merely on its merits and value proposition. No tricks anymore. Lean start-up has its limits.
Your biggest success metric in this case would be — did people pull out their wallets to pay you in exchange for your solution to their problem?
That one act of pulling out a credit card and buying your product is the single biggest indicator of two things.
First, that you have found a need in the market (that hopefully enough market participants care about ),
And second, that they care about this problem enough to actually pay for it. Thats when you know you have a real business opportunity.
Next step? Delight your users, learn from their usage and go find more people with the same problem. And if you are successful, thats when you know you have a viable business.