Early adopters are essential to the development and success of new products, providing entrepreneurs and companies with valuable feedback. Product developers are able to fine tune their technology and continue to enhance the product as it goes to market.
Brook Battle, founder of Birmingham-based software provider Swell Fundraising, is quick to attribute the success of her company on the buy-in from early adopters in her community. Swell Fundraising was founded in 2012 and provides nonprofit organizations with a software solution that activates event guests to raise awareness and funds from their personal network.
The Women’s Fund of Birmingham was the first nonprofit to adopt the software for their annual Smart Party fundraiser in 2012.
“The Women’s Fund of Birmingham was our first client – that’s where it started. We have a lot of Women’s Fund clients around the country now due to the network they share. The Junior League of Birmingham was also quick to adopt us and Planet Fundraiser. The case study on what they did has created a lot of conversation for us with other nonprofits around the country,” said Battle.
Battle shares three key ways early adapters make an impact:
- Allow you to test software.
“The Women’s Find of Hawaii and their executive director have been vital for us as an early adopter. She had a peer whom she trusted that shared about Swell and now she has made a real difference for our company. At the onset, she has rolled with us, we have supported them and we have owned our mistakes – it is a really good relationship,” said Battle.
- Allow you to have success
“The early adopters have enabled our success because they provide case studies. Without case studies, you have nothing. Every nonprofit in town that has adopted us early, we owe our existence to. We rely on those case studies – that’s what people open, that’s what we are able to send to potential clients. Plus, those peer-to-peer recommendations are essential,” explained Battle.
- They bare some risk disproportionate to later adopters.
“For some nonprofits, particularly in the Birmingham market, they acknowledged there was risk, but also realized they were gaining a lot by adopting early. That in fact, our company would work to make this successful, so it de-risks it in some ways.
Despite the risk, an early adopter gets all the company – they get the CEO’s focus and every resource of that company because the company depends on their success. The company has far more to lose than the early adopters do,” shared Battle.
Through the case studies and peer-to-peer references early adopters have provided, Battle has been able to grow Swell Fundraising to include many nonprofits across the country and thus expanding the reach of the Birmingham innovation community far beyond Alabama.
“I can’t stress enough how much this community and the early adoption of our product made an impact in the success of our company,” added Battle.