I read 1,000 true fans by Kevin Kelly in 2017 and ever since I could not stop telling fellow entrepreneurs about this concept. Although the article was originally written in 2008, the theory is more feasible now than it was then. An artist/creator who sells $100 worth of merchandise in a year to 1,000 true fans can make $100,000 – a decent yearly salary in most parts of the world (probably in all parts of the world?). If the artist could sell $200 worth of goods, he/she only needs 500 true fans. $1,000 a year only needs 100 true fans.
Applying 1,000 true fans to entrepreneurship is comforting. Entrepreneurs will always dream of building a product or service that could scale to millions of users. At least that’s my dream. Every day, I browse through websites like Starter Story to study how businesses scale. And read Failory to see why businesses with big visions fail.
It is no secret that going mainstream is cutthroat. Peter Thiel, in his book Zero to One lays out his experience building Paypal. In order for Paypal to work, it had to reach a critical mass of at least one million users. Paypal paid $10 to each new customer and then gave them $10 more for every friend they referred. In a nutshell: Paypal had to pay customers to join, had to worry about competition from other fintech companies, and had to deal with very high number of fraudulent transactions. Absolutely mind boggling how unicorns like PayPal do it.
My point is: reaching millions of users is not for the faint-hearted. There is an alternative path to success as an artist/entrepreneur. Reaching 1,000 people is doable. The internet makes this easy. Crowdfunding sites like KickStarter makes the whole process of raising funds from your fans so much easier. And with the advent of blockchain technology, artists could sell their work as NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
So much possibilities! Let’s keep dreaming.