How to establish user trust in new startup?


My business is a brand new startup, and doing something that involves my clients placing a good deal of trust in my software (I let people rent out their computers over the internet - imagine a crowd-sourced Amazon Web Services).

After posting a survey on my website, a lot of customers come back saying that they are not sure they trust my company (which is fair enough - it's brand new), but how do I address this?

What I have done so far:

  • I have a proper .com domain name.
  • I have no third-party advertising on my site.
  • My whole site runs under HTTPS with a proper valid SSL certificate
  • I have my full contact details on the site (office address, phone number, business registration details, etc.)
  • I am in the process of getting a code-signing (Authenticode) certificate for my software download (will be done in a day or two).

I'm based in Hong Kong, which may give a negative impression for some customers. Not much I can do about that right now though.

[EDIT - based on feedback I've also:

  • Got a proper logo and website design
  • Added links to my personal and company social profile on sites like LinkedIn, CrunchBase, etc.

Website Trust

asked Aug 13 '13 at 22:48
310 points
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4 Answers


While I wholeheartedly agree with the security-based indicators of trust (i.e. Frank and Steve's answers have excellent points that are vital in terms of laying the foundation for trust; albeit beyond my area of expertise!)

I wanted to take a moment to approach the question from a somewhat different, complimentary angle, however. I think it's important to remember that trust has two parts: the objective side (i.e. facts, proof, evidence), and subjective psychological elements which I believe are equally important. There are countless books ('Blink' by Malcolm Gladwell comes to mind) that demonstrate that our initial, gut reactions are almost always accurate if harnessed correctly. Not to mention the onslaught of online reviews and proliferation of information via social media...

Of course, a site plastered in ads with an unprofessional layout and an absence of contact information is almost always going to evoke a sense of skepticism. So I think you are on the right track to the technical/security based assurances to include on your site. Before (as mentioned above) you invest all your funding on cold & hard 'proof' of security, I would revisit a sentence you included in your question: "Added links to my personal and company social profile on sites like LinkedIn, CrunchBase, etc. "

Establishing trust through your customers and the online community as a whole (by establishing yourself as an expert in your field ) is where (in my opinion) your efforts will skyrocket. Not only is this type of marketing far less expensive than other forms (besides, of course, the value of your time)--people trust other people, and by proxy also tend to have increased trust the businessman who cares enough to take the time to visit and guest blog on industry-related sites, provide on-site resources for download, engage via social media, answer questions, have Q&A sessions with potential customers, etc.

Anyone can buy something to showcase on their site signifying security (and there is 100% rationale for doing this--I am not discounting it in any way), but only the business that truly cares will take the time and put in the effort to demonstrate just how trustworthy he is. An expert with all the applicable security measures in place will always fare better than an identical site/product without a personality behind it. Maintain your passion, stay involved, and remember that the world is increasingly used to international business deals if they are done properly and securely. Best of luck!

answered Sep 30 '13 at 23:44
Sara Abc1
31 points


You don't say whether you have any customers at all, or only a couple, but fewer than you could.

It's difficult to establish trust as a totally new company. The fear is often out there that the company will be gone overnight. In fact, large companies are very careful to play up this fact in their sales conversations with customers: 'you can trust us to always be there for you, unlike the competitor'.

If you have existing customers, then get some 'social proof' up on your website. Talk about the number of customers served and/or get quotes from them up on your site. If you have marquee customers get them up there. 'If [a name I have heard of] trusts them, I should'.

Otherwise, your solution is to offer people something more. As a small company, go out of your way for the first few customers and offer them incredible customer service. The incredible customer service can make up for the risk of working with you, and may persuade a first top customer to join. Then advertise them.

That's the process you, and any new company, has to go through to get established.

answered Oct 1 '13 at 00:52
Kamal Hassan
1,285 points


You can fix the hong kong issue by incorporating your company in the USA, getting a usa toll free number ( you can forward this to a skype in phone number). With a usa company you can get an USA ev ssl certificate which usually builds more trust.

With that said, if your software is making use of computer idle time, then trust is a big factor. You need to give your clients a lot of information on what your software does, and how it is sandboxed to protect against issues your software may cause.

You can get a 3rd party company test your software for security vulnerabilities. And publish that in your marketing material. Over time you will get some testimonials which should make this a bit easier for you.

answered Aug 14 '13 at 03:03
2,079 points
  • Any idea how/where I would find a '3rd party company to test your software for security vulnerabilities'? – Steve 7 years ago
  • I would google security vulnerability testing or software security auditing. – Frank 7 years ago
  • +1. These certificates are VERY expensive, but if you are buying trust, you gotta pay up! – Frank 7 years ago
  • Yup - I already have code signing. Went with StartCom which is much cheaper than others ($120 for 2 years, and you can generate any personal or corporate certs including SSL). – Steve 7 years ago


the truste and bbb logos are expensive like $500 a year. It didn't do anything for me. I will reinstate it in the future after I get cash flow going.

answered Sep 13 '13 at 07:06
Efficient Leader
37 points
  • Out of curiosity, if they didn't do anything for you, why would you reinstate it when you have cash flow? – rbwhitaker 7 years ago

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