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Finding Customers Ahead of a Startup Launch

Lining up buyers in advance of launch can be challenging for a new company. But finding the right ones--and capitalizing on them--can go a long way toward ensuring early success.

This story appears in the August 2011 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When Ariel Seidman left Yahoo last year to start his own tech company with two former co-workers, he knew that success out of the gate would hinge on having some big-name customers already lined up. So he spent most of his time in Silicon Valley coffee shops or on conference calls explaining the idea behind Gigwalk--harnessing the power of millions of users to create what the company likes to call "the first on-demand mobile work force"--and gauging the market need for its services.

By the time Gigwalk launched in May, Seidman--along with co-founders Matt Crampton, the chief officer, and David Watanabe, the chief of design--had lined up , the Amsterdam-based maker of satellite navigation devices, and MenuPages, the online restaurant directory.

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