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ArticleSmart Founders Stay in Customer Support

Smart Founders Stay in Customer Support

Founders ask the big questions for our startups. Customer service answers them.

In nearly every startup I've ever built, I've always stayed incredibly close to our customers. In fact, if you're reading this via our email list, which goes out to over 250,000 Founders like you every week, you'll notice that's my name on the reply button. That's actually me. If you're one of the brave souls who have attempted to contact what you were probably assuming was a bot or some customer service queue, you were probably surprised to get a message from me instead.

We've got over 200 people, a team of marketers, a team of customer support folks, and an insane amount of infrastructure. I also own a personal assistant business in Zirtual.com — so why am I a...



ArticleA Growth Marketing Stack for Startups

A Growth Marketing Stack for Startups

Startups.com marketing technology stack

What is a Martech Stack?

First up, what even is Martech? This is an abbreviation of “marketing technology.” It’s the tools and software you use in your day-to-day sales and marketing.

The reference to the “stack” has been used by developers for years, in reference to the technology and codebases they use within the products they build. Martech Stack references the marketing technologies and tools you use within your marketing infrastructure set-up.

By stacking these tools together and integrating them you create a consistent, automated flow of data between your tools.

The benefits of setting up a Martech Stack

The likelihood is that you already have some form of Martech Stack in place, even without...



ArticleHey Investors — Here's how to say "No" to us

Hey Investors — Here's how to say "No" to us

Investors — As Founders we love you, need you and appreciate you. But the relationship feels very one-sided when we're pitching for capital. As Founders, we just need a better way to communicate not only the evil word "NO", but the equally evil word "Maybe." "Yes!" we seem to have figured out.

All we're asking for here is to be treated with respect and dignity. We don't need to be coddled, we just need a clear "No" when the time is right and ideally some basic kindness along the way. It doesn't take much, but we could really use some shifts in how we communicate these days.

Don't be a Dick

I've met with and pitched hundreds of investors. If there's one thing that I could never figure out, it's why so many act like raging dicks. Not all of t...



ArticleHow Do I "Buy Out" An Equity Holder Fairly?

How Do I "Buy Out" An Equity Holder Fairly?

Getting equity back from an existing stakeholder isn't easy — but it is possible.

It's a situation that very few Founders have ever been through before, so no one really knows how to go about it. Let's talk a bit about how the situation develops and what we can do to get some of that precious equity back into our coffers.

Remember, Equity is a Promise of Payment

More than anything, equity isn't just a stock issuance. It's a promise that at some future point that stock will be worth cash money — maybe.

When we think about pulling the equity back, we have to think in terms of how to redeem that promise of payment in some capacity. It's not just a matter of "taking it away" per se, it's a matter of trading the terms of the initial agreement ...



ArticleEverything You Need To Know About Pitching Investors

Everything You Need To Know About Pitching Investors

The investor pitch. It's feared. It's desired. It's terrifying.

But don't worry: We've got you covered. Here's everything you need to know about that all-important investor pitch.

What should your investor pitch include?

Invisu.me Co-Founder and CEO Donna Griffit is a master pitcher who has helped countless founders distill their pitch down to exactly what they need — and nothing they don’t. She had the opportunity to sit in on a private pitching event where a delegation of startups had the opportunity give a five minute pitch and receive direct feedback from a group of top-tier Silicon Valley VC’s. (So top tier that she can’t even say who was there but, trust us, you will want to memorize this section before your next pitch.)

Here’s what ...



ArticleWhat's Product Design?

What's Product Design?

What is product design?

Product design is the entire process of taking a product from idea to customers — and everything in between.

“There’s a widespread misconception that design is all about aesthetics,” product designer Eric Eriksson writes. “Most people don’t seem to understand that it’s about solving problems instead.”

There’s another, more limited, definition of product design which we’re not going to explore in detail here. But basically, that other definition is talking just about how a product looks and functions. For the sake of product design for startups, we’re focusing on the more holistic, process-oriented definition.

What’s the difference between product design and product development?

While product design is part of produc...



ArticleWhat Is Product Differentiation?

What Is Product Differentiation?

What Is product differentiation?

Product differentiation is process used by companies to clarify the differences between their products and other products on the market. Those other products can include competitors but also a company’s own products, to prevent overlap between the offerings. The goal is to find a product’s unique selling point (USP).

Why is product differentiation important?

Product differentiation is important because it makes your product stand out from the crowd! It’s easier and easier to create a company or sell a product or connect directly with factories in China these days. So what makes your housewares product or dating app or SaaS product different from all of the other housewares products, dating apps, and SaaS pr...



ArticleHow to Be a Successful Marketer if You’re not Super Smart

How to Be a Successful Marketer if You’re not Super Smart

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not that smart, and yet I’m a pretty good online marketer. I am actually probably one of the better ones out there.

So, how’s that possible? Well, you don’t have to be smart to be the best marketer. Instead, you need to be creative, execute well, and continue to learn from others.

Here’s the process I used to become a great marketer, and here is how you can follow in my footsteps:

Don’t be afraid to bug people

When I first started out in the world of online marketing, I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know how to edit HTML; I thought MSN was a bigger search engine than Google; and I had no idea where to start.

But the one thing I did know is that there are marketers out there who are a...



ArticleSimple Ways to Create Delightful, Cross-Device Experiences

Simple Ways to Create Delightful, Cross-Device Experiences

It’s a crazy, multi-device world.

According to one report from Facebook, 60% of online adults in the U.S. and U.K. use at least two devices each day, meaning that mobile is at the epicenter of many brands’ marketing, sales, and product strategies.

This trend creates a window of opportunity for companies that are looking to reach audiences at multiple points in their buyer journeys. The challenge, however, is that mass-market tools and analytics technologies haven’t caught up—basic reports in Google Analytics only provide aggregate-level traffic data, for instance. It’s tough to dissect the steps that your audiences are taking to become customers and repeat customers.

Despite this lack of transparency, one concept holds tried and true: you’r...



ArticleWomen’s Business Magazines Don’t Contribute Anything

Women’s Business Magazines Don’t Contribute Anything

When I first left my full time job to try my hand at being an entrepreneur, I thought it would be helpful to join a women’s business networking group. The membership included a subscription to their women’s business magazine which provides exclusive content, advice, and tips for being more business-y.

I won’t name the organization, but I won’t be surprised if anyone recognizes it. I joined just over 6 months ago and every time I have received an issue of this quarterly magazine, I become a little more enraged.

The very first red flag is that inexplicably and despite the fact that the women’s magazine is only available to pre-paying members and can’t be bought in store, it has a price tag on it (but no barcode), presumably to con...



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