Everyday you read articles like “How I signed up 50,000 users before I built my product” and you feel like such a schmuck for actually building your product and then signing up customers. But guess what, follow these companies long enough and they inevitably fail.
Why? Because it’s actually relatively easier to sign up users with a promise than with a tangible product. Throw enough promises “easiest project management app”, “AI that builds your website for you”, “most powerful social analytics platform” and people may actually pay you without seeing the app since they have this awesome app in their heads – its called “The Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome”
BUT once you have a product people can see, they immediately see the flaws and they turn off.
The articles sound as if once you’ve “signed up 5000 users”, your work is done. Actually you’ve doomed yourself. The reason is you’ve got 5000 people who think your app will be what they have in their head. And they become a pain in the ass. At best, you piss them off when you fail to deliver, at worst they feel you cheated them of their money and become a big distraction.
However if your goal is to scam a bunch of money or to build a large email list so you can sell to spammers. Well congratulations!
Go look up the startups who got traction with a promise and see where they are today. A few come to mind – SpringSled, TheGrid.io, Myri.se.