Another good article by Vinicius Vacanti, this one focusing on how to keep the first 1,000 users, particularly when your service suffers from a chicken-and-egg problem of needing users to attract users.
Vinicius proposes a few approaches:
- Focus on a niche (it's easier to saturate a smaller niche and then expand to more niches)
- Become a super user (in other works, fake it)
- Wow users (provide a level of service that won't scale past thousands of users, but will wow your initial users)
- Get them to invite their friends (a variation on the niche idea)
- Create the other side of a two-sided marketplace business to attract one side.
The key is to be willing to offer the kind of extraordinary service that won't scale up (though in some cases, it can), and to be willing to do things, like emailing every new user personally, that would not be practical at scale, because you really need those first users to stick.
On your way to millions of users, don't forget you have to get 1,000 happy users first.