I'm currently developing, on an independent basis, an application that is highly domain specific; a niche application if you will.

This is all well and good, of course; but there is one problem; I'm not in a situation where I have a natural tester group.

The issue is not really one of finding testers for technical accuracy; the application in question has the twin benefits of being (at least for now) dead simple in design and implementation, and having a developer that is also has the appropriate domain knowledge.

Despite my relevant knowledge, however; I am not actually in the target audience for the application, leading to problems in identifying useful features for future implementation, among other things.

What then, are the avenues to explore with regards to actually finding end users?


Ship it.

Get it into a state where it will have some value to an end user, even if you haven't yet implemented every feature you plan to. The feedback from real users will help to shape the product. Make small incremental updates to maintain a steady progress.

Read 'Getting Real' by 37signals for inspiration: http://gettingreal.37signals.com/

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Practice Customer Development.

Test your product or idea before investing too much in it.

To test it, you will have to request meetings with important people in the niche and discuss with them about your project.

A nice book on the subject is The Four Steps To Epiphany. It has been written for you. Read it.

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I you can't easily find a decent number of early adopters to help you in beta testing your initial version, then as Andy suggested you should make it public and start marketing it. OK, that's not easy, but it's the only way to validate your idea and refine your beta.

Work in small steps, have a way for users to give you feedback and then act based on the feedback.

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