Asking for payment upfront VS free trial

April 14, 2022

I used to think asking for CC upfront is the kiss of death!! Because I don't want to limit growth and if they really liked the product, then they would pay after 30 days. But at the same time, I was told to "Focus your time on building for believers. By definition, they are happy to pay upfront bc they truly believe in what you're building -- Let them have skin in the game!!"

So in the beginning of running my community Founders Cafe, so I A/B tested free trials (no CC) and paying upfront.

The founders on those free trials were flakey, and did NOT engage at all. They joined and didn't show up to ANY events. Barely messaged.

The founders who paid immediately were SUPER ENGAGED! Day one, they started posting everywhere, and they showed up to the events. They were believers. What I learned is founders value something more if they pay for it :)

There is something really special about getting to work with believers from Day 1, not Day 30. Although drop off was higher for paying upfront, instead of waiting 30 days to see if people were a "believer" or not, I got to know who they are right away and fit to their feedback ASAP.

I also felt SO ALIVE. Instead of getting mixed signals/feedback from those on the trials ("Add this" "CHange that"), I had reliable feedback from the believers/paying members. I could iterate SO MUCH FASTER and trust feedback so much more because I was fitting to my believers. I stopped getting distracted by those lukewarm.

Ended up getting 40 customers in the first 2 months. Half of those on the trial churned off quickly, and most of those on the paid membership have stuck since.

Maddie Wang founders of founders cafe solo founder
Maddie Wang
Gay / Solo-Founder / Stanford Dropout

I'm building Founders Cafe because as a solo founder, it can be very isolating. Last year, I lost 4 co-founders and a best friend on a previous startup.

Previously built a Minecraft Server ($61k), Amazon Store ($120k), and Queer Chart, where I met my girlfriend & close friends.

If you're interested in joining the Founders Cafe, let's talk and if it's a good fit, down to invite you!

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