Race to Saturn

Onboarding Customers Fast Examples


Founders not only want to get potential customers interested, but get them to actually sign up and start using the product without a long delay. This document can be a place where we track examples of founders doing this.


Sign them up before you sell to them

In its early days, DoorDash (notoriously) would sometimes put restaurants on its platform, and allowed people to order that restaurants’ food through its platform, without getting the restaurants’ consent, or event talking to them first. People would see the restaurant on DoorDash and order, and then DoorDash folks would just go to the restaurant and get what the user had requested. The DoorDash folks would then deliver the order to the user.

This was, I would say, questionable from an ethical perspective, and not something I would recommend. But maybe there is a way to do this ethically.

For example, you could put together a profile for the potential customer, gearing everything up so that it all looks just like it would if the customer set up the profile itself. In the case of signing up bakeries to an app that connects bakeries to customers, this would entail putting together a profile for the bakery–including the items from the bakery’s menu. Everything would look ready for customers to start ordering.

Then, when you go and talk to the bakeries, show them the profile, and say they only need to give the “Ok” and the profile can go live.

If there is a way to start lining up customers for the bakery ready to use the platform beforehand too, then of course that would be even more powerful.

Signing them up live

A similar approach was implemented by Stripe in its early days. They would show their app to potential users, and if the users showed any interest, they would go ahead and set the users up with Stripe, ready to go, right then and there. So, like the “sign them up before you sell them” strategy, you take the effort that the customer would have to put in to get things rolling, and do it for them.

The difference here is that you are setting them up live (not beforehand). One of the benefits is if you can show them how quick and easy it is to set them up, letting them see how nice it is to use your product.

Helping them shine brighter

Another approach is to approach the potential user by discussing how you are a big fan of their work, and you want to help get their work into more people’s hands. This is a targeted user-acquisition strategy, where you target potential customers that you especially believe in and want to have as part of your product. When you talk to them, the “pitch” is not so much “here is a great product I think could be useful to you,” but more so “I really admire your work, especially [something specific], and this is a way to make [that specific thing] more successful and powerful.”