How Pastel found its first 25 customers

May 19, 2018 — in Articles

For those who are not familiar with the product, Pastel is a website feedback tool that helps designers and developers collaborate on live websites. They started off as a SaaS product priced at $25/mo. The ideal customer is a product facing creator (designer, developer or product manager) that participates in the feedback process during the process of building websites. These include folks that work at creative and digital agencies, freelancers, and enterprise marketers.‍

In the year or so since they’ve launched, they’ve tried a myriad of ways of connecting to those types of customers. Before reading this list, one thing to keep in mind is that some of these failed methods may still have legs and it’s possible that they execution on some of them were just poor. With that said, They’ve collected a list of the tactics they’ve tried, along with the outcomes and lessons they’ve learned.


Cold Demos via email

Result: No customers. Word of mouth possibly?
Lesson: Spamming doesn’t work. it’s better to offer something of value, have a conversation and see if your solution is even useful.

Door to door

Result: 1–2 paying customers
Lesson: In person relationship building is by far the best. It is definitely more intimidating to do but very useful in generating a buzz. Also, receptionists at larger agencies are really good at turning down solicitation attempts. Huge shout out to all the receptionists saving their teams from distractions!

Twitter search

Result: No paying customers, but good karma!
Lesson: Automated outreach needs to be followed up with real conversations or it just becomes a novelty.

Free feedback

Result: No tangible ROI
Lesson: People don’t have time. Respect everyone’s respective process.

Chatbot on our website

Result: 20+ paying customers
Lesson: A short conversation can provide short term support for the user and can allow a brand to potentially build long term trust.

A sorry email

Result: 10+ paying customers
Lesson: Having humility and asking straightforward questions can yield honest straightforward answers.

Targeting gig platforms

Result: Zero customers
Lesson: Contextualizing in real business cases is powerful but the time commitment of on-boarding a new tool and process is expensive.

Submitting to design inspiration galleries

Result: 100+ trials started
Lesson: Anything you spend a lot of time working on for your product can be reused as marketing. Think about podcasting, interviews, inspiration and open source as ways of marketing the most time-consuming parts of your role. For us, we spent a lot of time creating the narrative for our landing pages.

Online communities

Result: No tangible ROI
Lesson: Having conversations online can expose you to honest feedback and can sometimes expose product vulnerabilities that you might have known deep down, but didn’t think were as important.

Brand partnerships

Result: Interesting revenue generation
Lesson: Understanding the challenges of other companies can surface ways to working together in mutually beneficial ways.

Talking about our obstacles in public

Result: Huge growth of trials
Lesson: Being more vulnerable and sharing stories can help gain supporters and empower the growth of your business.

Supporting side projects in our community

Result: Zero paying customers
Lesson: In the beginning, prioritize inbound efforts over uncertain expensive outbound.

Coffees with small studios

Result: Met some awesome super supportive friends.
Lesson: Learn about your business and the business of your customers.

Doing agency work for other brands

Result: Added time to our runway
Lesson: Sometimes clever things can also be cleverly distracting.

Sitting at coffee shops

Result: Our first serious demo for a studio
Lesson: Get outside your comfort zone and chat with people, wherever they may hang out.

Branding on our products

Result: Hundreds of visits to our landing page
Lesson: Own your product. Control the message.



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