Controlled scaling — A better way to grow your product
Published on 4/6/2019

Controlled scaling — A better way to grow your product

How you can reduce complexity and grow one segment at a time

Imagine you’ve had an excellent idea for an app, you wrote down your vision, you did your homework and tested whether your assumptions are true and now you’re creating a prototype. You’ve put in a lot of effort and surely you want as many people as possible to use it. However, is it a smart idea to grow this way? Probably not. Let me explain.

Especially in the beginning, your app will only have a limited amount of features and countless bugs that you were not yet able to fix. Not very convincing arguments for your product.

And even if you get users to use your app, negative experiences create a lasting effect that is difficult to get rid of later on. On one particular occasion, I had a competitor using some early-stage errors against us to keep us from stealing his business — even when we fixed them directly after occurring. Pretty frustrating. However, being a small project also brings along some advantages. Using them — while growing — will help you.

Pick the right entry niche

Imagine you limit yourself to just 100 users for your trial period. Instead of serving a whole market, you limit yourself to that niche that is desperately longing for a solution like yours. And not only that. Within that niche, you pick those that are perfectly in line with your vision. Chances are, they even support you to bring your project forward.

Provide first-class customer service and nail your product

Keeping your audience small also allows you to provide first-class customer service. Skype with them, get to know their use-case, help them solve their problems. This is a unique opportunity that you can only maintain while you’re small. Growing to other segments, later on, will inevitably make it necessary to set boundaries between you and your customers. You then simply won’t be able to take into account specific users anymore if they don’t fit your greater vision.

Positive side effects

Scarcity is attractive: Somehow the human brain is more attracted to scarce resources. Limiting your beta trial to a few users creates exclusiveness and as a result, makes participation more attractive. Furthermore, participating in a closed trial makes it also less likely that people write bad stuff about it. That would erode all the positivity of owning a scarce resource.

Predictability: One other big reason that favors closed trials is predictability. Imagine when — against expectations — you have 1000 instead of 100 sign-ups. Ten times the number of requests, questions, issues. Your team would be overwhelmed. Opening up in a controlled manner leaves you free of such surprises. It’s faster: You may think now: “But that’s going to take forever. I want to go fast.” It turns out that avoiding all these inconveniences of uncontrolled growth is the fastest way to go.


  • Define your ideal customers and find a way to get in contact with them.
  • Offer them to apply for your beta trial and choose only those that fit your mission.
  • Make them happy.
  • Grow segment by segment until you finally open up.