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Startup Diaries Week #11: Head Down

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Startup Diaries Week #11: Head Down

The hard thing about writing a blog series like this is that it relies on “stuff happening”.

That sounds weird to say, of course it does. The reason that I bring that up is because this last week has been a serious case of “head down”, in search of the fabled hockey stick graph of user registrations.

As we approach the last three weeks of the Ignite accelerator programme, it all boils down to the following:

  • Do we want to raise a seed round of investment?
  • Get users, get users, get users.
  • Develop a perfect pitch.

This is the time where it all gets real. Where the last 10 weeks of learning, assimilating and “working it out” comes together to culminate in preparation for the showcase on April 15th. But more than that, it is simply about making sure that we're in the strongest possible position for building relationships with potential investors.

Without that, Pip™ simply may not exist.

Challenges This Week

Buzz words piss me off. Perhaps none more so than the word “hustle”, but that's a story for another day…

“Growth Hacking” is a term that is thrown about within the startup world that I perhaps used to think was “buzzy”. The reason I say perhaps, is that I can't remember anymore, because we've had to do it.

In simple terms, last week we came down from the back of our Product Hunt success and had to find a multitude of other ways to drive user registrations to Pip™.

And it's hard!

Adam really took point on this as I focussed on Facebook Ads (back to this later) and he really shone. He put together a growth hacking plan that allowed him to get Pip™ in front of a ton of new registrants thanks to creative use of platforms like Reddit, Hacker News and more.

It's funny, coming from a “digital marketing” background, how I found a million things to learn by watching Adam do this – it truly is “hacking”, with no budget and startlingly good results measured against that.

It was impressive to watch him hone is skills during the week and contribute superbly to the overall user registrations for Pip™.

Well played, that man.

Now, back to Facebook, and the ads.

It simply didn't work for Pip™. We tried all sorts of tactics, including Facebook contests and use of text shortcodes (you know the sort, text “PIP to 82055”) and, although we were getting impressions / engagement, it wasn't worth it against the monetary investment when we looked at the return.

I kept a journal of the changes we made to our Facebook campaign and honestly, despite the quality of the platform and data it works with AND the fact that we ran an Instagram campaign to trial that too, I believe the issue is in channel shifting users.

Let me explain: in podcasting, channel shifting users is notoriously hard – “Go to my website and enter your email address to get my exclusive content” – people are just rarely in a position to do that, at the time you're asking them to.

Shifting them from one channel to the other is just hard.

With Pip™'s Facebook campaign, we were appealing to people on a social network and then asking them to channel shift to SMS – that jump just never happened.

We'll try a web driven campaign next, I think.

Outside of the growth hacking work, we began to really focus on nailing down two pitches for Pip™: a 30 second investor pitch and a 4 minute showcase pitch.

Both of these have to be written, edited, infinitely tweaked and importantly, memorised, ready for the investor lunches that start on the 31st March.

These lunches are a way of strengthening relationships with investors so that both sides can find the right working relationship when it comes to the seed round.

And it's hard. By the end of the week, we'd pitched our first draft to the Ignite team and had some solid feedback.

The bottom line was: “it's good, but it needs a bit of work”. We'll take that!

Real-life: how the co-founders are doing

There's a lot of pressure, of that there's no doubt. But it's the exciting kind of pressure that we thrive upon.

That said, it's not without it's stresses – cracks that just appear now and then when it gets a little much. The great thing about being so closely focussed on a project, and something that comes from living with your co-founder, is that discussions happen all the time.

Adam and I continue to chat and be very open with each other. It's a superb little support system I feel we have going on, and we're able to share our concerns in a safe and measured way. It's great, I've never quite had a business relationship like it, and it's very valuable.

Right now, we simply have to pull our socks up and get stuck in, every day.

It's that simple: prepare the pitch, prepare the product and get ready to unleash it.

Next week at the first investor lunch, that's exactly what we'll do.

Keep you posted.

Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel!

About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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