Alex Tew, co-founder of Calm app

Entrepreneur’s Guide: How to Get 100,000 Sign-Ups Pre-Launch

The biggest hurdle any entrepreneur faces is gaining traction, especially at the start of their venture. With that said, unless you are well-connected, lucky, or already an authority in your niche, you will struggle to make your business grow quickly. At the time with rapid innovation, you are required to move fast and scale quickly. With money already in short supply, how do you achieve that?

Well, here is one strategy Alex Tew, the co-founder of the meditation app, Calm, pursued to make his project go viral.

The Story

Alex Tew was venturing into a very niche market, one with already a reasonable level of business saturation. To achieve success, he needed to spread the word quickly and to a large audience. And so, what did he do? He did what any successful entrepreneur does – think outside the box and get creative.

And Alex was certainly no stranger to this. At age 21. to fund his college education, he developed the Million Dollar Homepage, where each pixel was sold for $1. Within 5 months since launch, he had made his first million.

Moving forward to 2011. while his app was still in the conception stage, he launched the website As the name applies, you are required to do nothing for 2-minutes, else the timer would restart.

Here is the thought process behind it:

“What would the simplest website in the world be. It would be a website that does nothing. Let’s build a website that invites people to do nothing. Okay, let’s invite people to do nothing for two minutes.”

People immediately loved the website. Within ten days, it had garnered 2 million unique visits. To encourage sharing, he added a tweet function at the end of the timer.

To convert visits, he added a Call-to-Action at the end of the timer asking visitors if they would like to submit their emails and be notified of any future tools he might develop. The result was over 100,000 sign-ups.

Calm was launched the next year to an already receptive audience. Within 5 years, it was generating a revenue upwards of $22 million. By 2019, just two years later, it reached a valuation of $1 billion.


Key Takeaways

  • Think Outside the Box: If you want to get noticed, think of something outlandish and make it workable.
  • Keep it simple:  The easier it is to understand for people, the more they are willing to engage with it.
  • Invest in the Name: It should be catchy and convey what your project represents.
  • Make it Social: Make your visitors your social ambassadors by encouraging them to share it in their social circle.




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