The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten
335: How to Run an Early Access Program
Aug 14, 2018
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In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about what Steli calls a beta program and Hiten calls an early access program.

Before you launch a product or a new feature, it is important to test things out to catch bugs and product issues prior to launch. But how do you go about doing this in a way that provides value to you and the user who test it out for you?

Tune in to this week’s episode to hear Steli and Hiten thoughts on what an early access program is, why it’s so important, how to do it properly and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:46 Why Hiten calls it an early access program.

01:53 Steli’s point of view on what to call it.

02:40 Hiten gives an inside look at how his company handles their early access program.

03:53 How an early access program can be beneficial to your startup.

04:22 The 3 kinds of releases you can aspire for.

06:53 The right time to go from internal release to early access.

07:56 How to ramp up an early access program.

09:10 Why it’s important to give your customers something worth their while.

09:52 How to do an early access program properly.

3 Key Points:

You don’t wanna call it a beta, because that implies it’s buggy.
Never call your customer an early adopter.
The early access program is designed for you to learn so that you can figure out what that full release looks like.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.



Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah, and today on the Startup Chat, we're gonna talk about what Steli calls a beta program and what I call a early access-



Steli Efti: Access program.



Hiten Shah: ... Program. And that's okay. This is one of my pet peeves. I don't like calling it beta, so I'm gonna jump right in and talk about how to do this correctly.



Steli Efti: Boom.



Hiten Shah: I like talking about and framing it as an early access program because we have to grown to think of beta as buggy. So when you want to bring people into your product early, or a new feature, it doesn't matter, you don't wanna call it a beta 'cause that implies it's buggy. Also, I don't think the general population out there knows that a beta really is. It is a very techy type term.



Steli Efti: Fair.



Hiten Shah: So for me, I like calling it an early access program. I like framing it like that because that feels more exclusive. It really pulls in people that we would consider early adopters. Also, by the way, never call your customer an early adapter to their faces. That doesn't help you. They are just a human being, they're a person, and they're eager to use your product early because they really want this problem solved, or they're really just excited. So that's what I'm gonna start with, Steli. It's called early access and it's meant to make people feel special, not make people feel like robots.



Steli Efti: Boom. All right, Hiten's on fire. I can already attest. You're right. You're very right. You know, when I talk about it in a sales context, whenever I talk to start ups about how to get the first few customers, I learned this phrasing from you a long time ago and I always talk about early access. But when I talk about, when we talk about it internally about giving a certain subset of our customers access to a new feature, we still call it beta. So I'm gonna work on changing that because I really like your reasoning and we both deeply care about words and communication, the impact it can have on things.



Hiten Shah: I'm gonna go a little deeper. So what we're doing and my company is basically aspiring towards,

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