Audience-First Products: Moats, Founding Influencers, Optionality

Emoji featuring hands up in celebration.

“Everything can be commoditized except trust and attention.”

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❓ What You’ll Learn

  • How to embed yourself in communities?
  • What are the benefits of building in public?
  • What are examples of one-person media companies?
  • What are the downsides of an audience-first approach?
  • Which brands earn equity instead of selling attention?
  • Why does proprietary distribution matter?

💎 Why It Matters

An audience-first approach can help you validate products, build distribution and stay accountable.

🔍 Problem

You don’t know what to build or how to reach customers.

💡 Solution

Build trust before products.

🏁 Players

🔮 Predictions

  • One-person media companies will continue to grow. Creation and distribution tools democratize leverage. Johnny Harris left Vox to build a YouTube channel with 1,500,000+ subscribers. Barstool, The Verge and Fortune are seeing similar exoduses.
  • Brands will opt for equity over selling attention. Kylie Jenner built a cosmetics company instead of promoting one.
  • Commoditized backends will help smaller firms sell physical products. Printful lowers execution risk and marginal costs. Turning physical products into digital products, from the creator’s perspective.

☁️ Opportunities

🔑 Key Lessons

  • Audience = Optionality. Building trust is hard. Monetizing trust is easy. We’ve seen audience-first agencies, digital products, SaaS companies, platforms, funds and more.
  • Proprietary distribution gives you pricing power and control over unit economics. Bidding on paid ads leads to unpredictable customer acquisition costs.
  • Build an audience to increase your luck. Once we know your goals. We can conspire to help you out.

😠 Haters

“Audience-building is slow.”
Paid channels are faster but less defensible. There’s no free lunch.

“Where doesn’t this make sense?”
If you’re not serving a tribal audience or have a small set of stakeholders.

“What if my validation efforts lead to false positives?”
We saw this with Level and Beme. Your supporters don’t want to let you down. So they may lie. The Mom Test helps you validate in biased environments.

“What if I give away my secrets?”
We don’t care about 100% of your business. Share the good parts. You can build public without sharing revenue numbers, key distribution channels and algorithms.

🔗 Links

📁 Related Reports

🙏 Thanks

Thanks to Arvid Kahl (The Bootstrapped Founder), Justin Jackson (, Sharath Kuruganty (, Lwany (Petite Fashion Weekly), Vishal Srivastava (Trainedge), Aadil Razvi (Demand Curve), Ashwin Gurbuxani (, Ash (Bad Unicorn), Whit Anderson (Bad Unicorn), Jelmer (Venturism), Ray Deck (Sustained Ventures), Jamil Abreu (Substack), Shashank Yadav (Omdena), Lu Doan (OSBundle), Vincent Haywood (Vhdigital) and Edward Mcenrue (True Fit). We had a great time jamming on this report.

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    📈 What else?

    Trends PRO #0067 — Audience-First Products has more insights.

    What you’ll get:

    • 20 Audience-First Products (233% more)
    • 8 Predictions (166% more)
    • 12 Opportunities (140% More)
    • 6 Key Lessons (100% More)
    • 10 Links (233% More)
    • 10-minute audio episode with exclusive Audience-first product stories, insights and opportunities.

    With Trends Pro you’ll learn:

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