More tips on finding and interviewing your first 10 customers or users
There are exceptions of course and sometimes all it takes is a bit of courage and creativity, but usually - it means that either your customer segment is not focused enough, or there simply is no problem.
People will come out of the woodwork these days if you even MENTION that you are working on a problem they have. They will even refer you to friends and colleagues which is unheard of!
You need to go and find people "where they have the problem". If you start talking to parents about parent problems on their lunch break at work, it is less likely to yield good data than when you talk to them at the playground. If you are working on a travel idea, go to the travel section of a bookstore or just go to the nearest tourist trap. I usually advise against virtual customer development, but one of my favorite examples was at an event in Seattle, a startup was trying to solve a problem for gamers, and the went INSIDE THE GAME to talk to them:)
If you share your customer hypothesis - my colleagues and I specialize in helping you source and run interviews.
EDITS BASED ON SOME OF THE OTHER ANSWERS
- be very careful to note the difference between feedback and pure "problem sourcing"
- you do not need to comp people to talk about their problems, not the early adoptors - I have seen 100s if not 1000s of interviews and they never require comp if the problem or the context is remotely close
- focus groups do not work (especially before the problem customer statement is refined and more of a known variable)
- surveys do not work (especially before the problem customer statement is refined and more of a known variable)
- a landing page (bait page) is a great way to prove demand for your solution once your customer segment is known and their problem is crystal clear. It is an awful way to finalize your customer segment and learn their problem (and I LOVE landing pages - I am an addict.)