5 Lessons Every Startup Can Learn From Superhuman

Learn why users are willing to pay $30 for an email app.

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

Almost everyone is talking about Superhuman. And they are all saying good things. Or at least most of them are. What is so great about an email app that has made the startup world go crazy?

And no, it is not because Superhuman is a perfect app. It is not available on androids and on PCs it can only be navigated with a keyboard. There are no fremiums either. To use this email app, you’ve to pay $30. And join a waiting list (referral only) and then fill out a long questionnaire about your mailing habits and workflow.

Yet Superhuman users sound like obsessed fans when they talk about it. Articles have been written about its brilliant business model (this article is one of them) and the reviews are glowing.

Here are 5 lessons every startup can learn from the success of Superman.

1. Don’t build for everyone

Access to the email app is restricted by a lack of presence on the app store. You also have to fill out a questionnaire that determines whether or not you can use Superhuman. If you need a feature they currently do not support, they do not let you in through the front door.

Some people might think this is quite rude. But it solves the problem of angry dissatisfied customers and a harried support team in the future.

Rahul Vohra, CEO of Superhuman has focused on developing his product for the smallest viable amount of users. He says,” With your early marketing, you may have attracted all kinds of users — especially if you’ve had press and your product is free in some way. But many of those people won’t be well-qualified; they don’t have a real need for your product and its main benefit or use case might not be a great fit. You wouldn’t have wanted these folks as users anyway.”

Stop looking to gain the largest amount of customers possible. Focus on finding users that need and value your product so much that they almost can’t live without it.

Read how Rahul Vohra achieved product market fit.

2. Sell a great (not perfect) product

There are 3 main things that make everyone fall in love with Superhuman.

It is insanely fast. The workflow tools make repetitive tasks easier and faster to complete. The triage feature lets you get to important emails quickly. In summary, they deliver on all their promises to reinvent the email experience.

Superhuman is still not perfect (it is currently being beta tested) but the benefits are enough to outweigh the cons of the app.

You can build hype around a product but the only thing that keeps customer retention rates high is giving users what they signed up for and more.

3. Always ask “How can we make this better?”

A question the Superhuman team constantly asks “Is how can we improve?” They do not leave this to surveys or speculations, they collect indispensable data from watching how their product is being used. By acknowledging that their product is not perfect they have a chance to keep building a better one.

Asking questions about the things that need improvement is scary but it is necessary. No product is perfect. Every good product is built on the feedback of people who have used it.

4. Help your customers succeed and they’ll talk about you

The secret behind this is that Superhuman feels less like an email app and more like a productivity tool. By enabling their users to save valuable time and simplify their workflow,

Your startup may not have the CEO of TechCrunch or a top VC using it but what it does have are users who will tell others about how it solved their problems. Even without being compelled.

5. Take user feedback with a pinch of salt

Instead, they focus on the responses of high expectation customers. Rahul Vohra defines a high expectation customer as the most discerning person in your target market. They love and enjoy your product. And they spread the word about it without compulsion. These are the consumers that come up with the best recommendations for scalable improvement.

Most startups set out to solve problems for people they think their product is for. But the reality is your product is not going to appeal to every user. No matter how awesome it is. Focus on tweaking it to satisfy the needs of the “very disappointed” and “somewhat disappointed” segment of your user base.

Building a business is not an easy feat. But by focusing on your high expectation customer, evolving your products to meet their needs, and ensuring they succeed every time, you can build a startup as incredible as Superman.

Content Marketing Manager at Animalz. Part-time Otaku and occasional poet.

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