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Jeffrey Shaw, Wine Enthusiast

How I got my first 3 customers and the steps for you to do the same.

Jeffrey Shaw

Wine Enthusiast started from a radical idea. A daily-deal website for wine that didn't use discounts. To most that sounds like an oxymoron -- "Where's the DEAL if there's no discount?!" So I set out to test my concept of using randomized free upgrades for buyers instead of discounts.

The way I did this was to throw a party. Everyone who showed up paid $15 and got a bottle of wine, which I put each in its own brown bag...some bottles were high priced ($100 bottles), others were lower priced ($15). We randomly distributed the bottles to the party-goers and it was fun to see the reaction of those who got the more expensive bottles. Everyone loved the excitement of seeing what they got; which resulted in everyone passing the bottles around and sharing.

So the point is that even before I built out the website platform to do the allocation randomization and to accept payments, I did it manually without any technology at all. Being able to test the concept without spending months and thousands of dollars was huge in terms of gathering market research.

The Tip

To whet your beak

Test different versions of your product for different target audiences even before you have a prototype.

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