Hey but, why should I care?
At this point you ended up reading this lines because you know already what are we talking about, but for the ones that are new on Startups scene, Earlyvangeslists and early adopters are the name for your first clients that are key to success with your Startup. The name was popularized by Steve Blank in his famous book The Four Steps to the Epiphany where Blank presents his customer development model, used around the world for most of the Startups companies. For the ones who haven’t read it yet, it’s a must for any starter.
Although the customer development model was influenced by Everett Rogers (Diffusion of Innovations), none of above has characterized deeply those first clients called Earlyvangelist (Blank) or Early Adopters (Rogers)But,why should I care? Well, in any Startup endeavor the first key stage of the processes to success or at least have some angel investment is market adoption, because as Blank says, Startups are “organizations formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model” so in that search, finding your first customer is critical.
But what is an Earlyvangelist? According to Blank, Earlyvangelist are Early adopters of your product/service “willing to take a risk on your startup’s product or service because they can actually envision its potential to solve a critical and immediate problem—and they have the budget to purchase it”. Steve Blank set some characteristics for Earlyvangelist to be found during the Customer Discovery-Validation pivot:
(1) Has a problem (2) Is aware of the problem (3) Has been actively looking for a solution (4) Has put together a solution out piece parts (5) Has or can Acquired a Budget.
According to Rogers, there are 2 type of first adopters of innovation: Innovators and Early Adopters described as higher socioeconomic status people with characteristics that set them off from later adopters. Between Innovator and Early Adopters, the last are a more integrated part of the local social system than are innovators meaning a greater degree of opinion leadership or influence. Then potential adopters look to early adopters for advice and information about the innovation because early adopters are not too far ahead of the average individual in innovativeness, so the role of the early adopter is to decrease uncertainty about a new idea by adopting it, and then conveying a subjective evaluation of the innovation to near-peers by means of interpersonal networks.
Having both ideas related to early adoption, some degree of adoption could be set inside the Rogers’ Early Adoption category, the ones having the described personality treats and the ones willing to act influentially. In my opinion for startups is search for early adopters and compelled them to a point where they are transformed to an earlyvangelist of what your startup is doing. This is why you should care because is about your first clients and how you can find and recognize them.
The main work about early adoption presented shows two key issues, Early adopter has personality traits, and context, this means someone could have high level of innovativeness to be your early adopter but can have the budget in that moment or can present all the characteristics presented by Blank but his/her avoidances of risk stop him/her from become yours’s early adopter. In other hand, early adopter could have influence among peers being an ideal candidate to be your earlyvangelist but if he/she is not compelled enough with your value proposition and startups vision, this key skill remains asleep. Finally, to find early adopter for your startup could be as hard as convert people to be earlyvangelist, so it is in your hands decide strategically what’s best for you at this stage for your startup.