/Overview/ Since 2005, when I've launched a hardware tech think tank, I’ve been exploring things that connect technology, data and society. Over my journey, I worked on tech projects, companies and labs, helped to create public policies, evangelized computer science and technology in different corners of the world from North America to APAC or Africa. My involvement taps tech ecosystems, programs, institutions (MIT, Singularity University, 500 Startups, Techstars etc) and multilateral organizations (World Economic Forum, European Commission). /Currently/ I'm open to EIR involvements, expert requests and checking your samples & products at any time. ● Top interests - wellbeing, learning, inclusion, personalization, ethics ● Top technology - data, ai, ml, social robotics, devices, platforms ● Top expertise - screening and connection of emerging technologies & products, networks
From my experience (both as a mentor and accelerators founder / investor) I would say:
- Use community and your network to gain an initial vision;
- Gain your own experience to develop your vision;
- Then pick mentors to scale some specific areas or overcome some challenges (leadership, time-management, networking skills and etc).
In fact, nothing can replace your own experience. However, without this experience, you will also not be able to find and select relevant mentors who are really able to deliver a value within specific challenges.
It's important to note that:
1) Early-stages startups are not interested in such services because: they don't have money for it / it's too early to scale anything until traction.
2) The other thing - more mature startups: seed, Series A and later.
It's right audience. Because as soon as you prove your hypothesis and get a traction, it's time to scale it.
But in this case it's better to formulate a question:
"What kind of marketing channels I need to use?". It's a very wide and abstract question.
But usually it works like:
1) Direct Sales (confs, linkedin);
2) Content Marketing (Good guestposts);
3) Partners program.
In reality there is no big problem. Any startup which crossed "traction line" has a need to leverage more quality traffic. And I don't think that it's a problem to reach them.
The main problem to provide them with really good user acquisition in terms of Price / Quality. It's a hardest part.
There are thousands companies who do the same. In my taste, only 1% provides service which worths of attention.
What do you mean when you talk about SEO? It's really simplified thing in nowadays.
There is a pretty consize list of things which really matter, it's:
2) SXO (Search User Experience + Site User Experience);
3) On Page Optimization.
1 and 2 point give you 95% of effect, 3 - not more than 5%.
First point (content) should be done in house. You can outsource some writing, but ideas and plan is a part of your strategy.
Second point (SXO) - it's again about you and your product. You can hire some guys to improve or check it, but there is no need it in constant works.
Third point (On Page Optimization) - in nowadays it's really simplified and I don't think that there is a job for outsource team.
Write texts for people, not for machine. But as only you know your customer, it's obvious that you should make this job.
As an conclusion:
80% - In House;
20% - It's mostly about checking, improving and some writing.
One more advice. Don't believe old-fashioned SEO agencies and freelancers. In most cases they "help" to make your site penalized, not boost it.
Have a nice day.
"Should startups scale with online ads?"
Yes, but only after you exhausted:
1) Direct Sales potential;
2) "Word of mouth" potential;
3) Content Marketing potential;
4) Partners Program potential.
In other words, when you have built an organic base of your marketing channels.
If you already done with it, measure exact values of customer acquisition costs and try to keep it. It's normal, if paid channel has a fluctuation about 20-30% to this value, but don't exceed this figure.
One more thing, don't focus your attention only on CAC. Make cohort analysis for paid channel, keeping high quality of lead nurturing.
Remember, that Quality always outweighs Amount. Mostly because of viral and organic potential of quality leads.
There are some algorithms which usually work
1) Define circle of your competitors and similar companies.
2) Find person who wrote about them in past 6-12 months. Use Google Search or tools like Mention. Also you can use twitter search. Because good media professionals always twit about everything they do.
3) Use BuzzSumo to define more trustable and relevant among them.
4) Don't try to cover dozens of persons. It's useless and ineffective.
3-4 local, 3-4 nationwide, 3-4 global is enough.
Accuracy is thing which defines success in this field, not amount!
Otherwise, you become bothersome spammer.
5) Remember - you "tell the story". So the main rule here - think on media specialists and journalists like your agents, delivery mans. Don't make them think. Just give them real story which works.
That's why you should focus on really authentic and honest message. If story "catches" journalist's mind and heart, so he/she can deliver it to audience and catch them too.
6) Also try to combine your efforts with ProductHunt. It's an great opportunity to spread your product idea.
And one more advice...
Don't forget about your product and business. Very often startups spend too much time to DRIVE an ATTENTION to future product, instead BUILDING something that is WORTH this attention
Hope, it will help.
Have a nice day.
I try to give you an answer as angel investor.
1) "Does that mean that they are really interested in the company?"
It only means that type of your company is relevant to field of interests of particular angel investor.
2) "Is this something angel investors do on a regular basis or are the investors seriously interested in the company? "
People invest money to get more money. If you want to make money, you need to study asset which you plan to invest in.
Usually amount of VC money on market is greater than amount of good projects. So you need to study hundreds and thousands to find something really valuable.
3) "Should I contact each investor asking for a meeting or simply treat them like users?"
Usually investor wants to understand how your company/service works. What kind of user experience you can provide with.
SO, yes. You should treat them as general users.
And one more advice.
Think about customers, product and your business. Not about VC. Customers build your company and pay you money. Not VC.
It's more about type of your business.
In terms of B2B there is only one thing which helps startups live - is sales. Direct sales, conf. sales. Until you reach solid revenue content marketing efforts can be useless.
And it's also related to guest blogging.
In terms of B2C. Yes, guestblogging is a good strategy.
Some things you should know:
1) You need to guestblog before the launch. Create landing page with wait-list which aggregates emails and start to post on other resources to attract leads.
2) Use 2 types of sites - highly specific blogs and average specific blogs.
Highly specific blogs are your industry blogs (for example, on marketing, design). It helps to generate more targeted traffic. But once you reach a limit in this niche, you need to go further.
Average specific blogs. For instance, it.s Entrepreneur, Inc, Forbes. It's less targeted traffic. But! There is a much more readers. And it's a good opportunity to get new customers.
Always try to combine guest blogging on these types of blogs. NEVER focus only on industry blogs. Because there is a risk of writing for the same audience again, again and again.
3) Try to combine your guestposts with live speaking. Become speaker on some local events. Speak on your business topic and make alluions to your posts. It should sound like - "BTW, We also wrote about it in our post at Entrepreneur". You can also add this allusions as links in your followup letters.
It helps to generate more virality to your posts - drive more attention to you and your startup.
4) Last step is a cross-market distribution. But it's for mature stages of your startup.
HOWEVER! I should say it again...
...that for any early startup there is only one crucial thing is SALES.
You can make guestblogging. It's an effective strategy. But for early stage startup is not more than 5% of your overall efforts.
Rest 95% - is development and sales.
There is a very interesting trick you can use to define appropriate country/market for your business.
It's a content saturation method.
1) Firstly try to measure content saturation on different markets. There is a very high correlation between businesses and related content. It helps you to understand market size and level of competitiveness. More content - more market, higher saturation - higher competitiveness.
2) Then use google trends to define the fluctuations of demand on these markets. Choose options with higher growth and demand level.
3) When you define few winners, try to rely on Law, Tax environment to choose best option taking into account:
- how much you need to invest to start;
- how much you can earn after taxes and constant costs.
1) No. It should be 2 different pages.
You can find a lot of examples among 2-sides advertising and marketing platforms which use 2 different buttons for each proposition.
For example for ad platforms:
- For advertisers;
- For Publishers.
So you can use similar approach. Just choose one of them:
- add services to nav bar of the main page;
- or add 2 buttons with bright CTA on page.
in your case:
- For buyers;
- For photographers.
2) In terms of SEO...
My personal advice - never think about SEO.
- Good product;
- Good content;
- Right user experience.
If everything is good, it generates huge positive behavioral factors which impact search engines.
2 value propositions on the same page is a bad user experience. So it's bad for SEO too, because it has worse conversions.
Think in terms of people, not in terms of algorithms and machines.