Piggyback on popular Tweets to get brand awareness

We’ve aggregated many of the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Our community consists of startup founders and heads of growth. You can participate by joining Demand Curve’s marketing training program or its Slack group.

Without further ado, on to our community’s advice.


Analysis of YouTube trending videos

Insights from Ammar Alyousfi.
We reviewed an analysis of every trending YouTube video from 2019. Here are some of our learnings:
  • 95% of videos took less than 13 days to appear on the trending list. The minimum number of views needed for a video to trend was 53,796.
  • Videos stay on the trending list for ~5.6 days after publishing.
  • The top three categories for trending videos are entertainment (28.6%), music (14%) and sports (10.4%).
  • Videos posted on Saturday are the least likely to trend.
To dive deeper, check out the full report.

Don’t forget to transcribe podcasts

#column, #computing, #extra-crunch, #google, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #microblogging, #operating-systems, #real-time-web, #social, #social-media-marketing, #software, #startups, #tc, #text-messaging, #tweet, #twitter

Facebook’s former PR chief explains why no one is paying attention to your startup

At TechCrunch Early Stage, I spoke with Coatue Management GP Caryn Marooney about startup branding and how founders can get people to pay attention to what they’re building.

Marooney recently made the jump into venture capital; previously she was co-founder and CEO of The Outcast Agency, one of Silicon Valley’s best-regarded public relations firms, which she left to become VP of Global Communications at Facebook, where she led comms for eight years.

While founders often may think of PR as a way to get messaging across to reporters, Marooney says that making someone care about what you’re working on — whether that’s customers, investors or journalists — requires many of the same skills.

One of the biggest insights she shared: at a base level, no one really cares about what you have to say.

Describing something as newsworthy or a great value isn’t the same as demonstrating it, and while big companies like Amazon can get people to pay attention to anything they say, smaller startups have to be even more strategic with their messaging, Marooney says. “People just fundamentally aren’t walking around caring about this new startup — actually, nobody does.”

Getting someone to care first depends on proving your relevance. When founders are forming their messaging to address this, they should ask themselves three questions about their strategy, she recommends:

When you need content to build links, use social proof of concept

Before tackling a new content idea, it’s comforting to have evidence that it’ll go off without a hitch.

Of course, that’s not possible.

You can never know 100% that a piece of content will meet your objectives. But you can get a better sense of whether it’s likely to succeed.

We call it “social proof of concept.” This strategy is often used by marketers as a way to gauge the promotional viability of what they’re going to create.

Let’s examine what it is and how to use it to create compelling content.

What is “social proof of concept”?

“Social proof of concept” is one of the many ways you can come up with content ideas.

It essentially means a similar piece of content has performed well in the past, meaning it’s likely that something in the same vein that’s better will perform even more impressively now.

By exploring content examples that got a ton of social engagement, you can ask yourself:

  • Are people talking about the topic?
  • What was it about this content that might have made it so successful?
  • Is there something missing that we can add/improve upon?
  • Is there something about the methodology/design we can learn from?
  • What conversation is happening around the topic that you can contribute to now?
  • Is there an idea that complements this content and contributes to the discussion?

When you can identify what’s been successfully engaging in the past, you can start with a much higher chance of creating something that really resonates with people.

Where do I find social proof of concept for my ideas?

My favorite places to look for social proof of concept is on Reddit, Twitter, YouTube and others. I’ll walk through my process for vetting potential topics and methods of finding inspiration for new, related ideas.

#buzzfeed, #collective-intelligence, #column, #content-marketing, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #hashtag, #pinterest, #reddit, #search-engine-optimization, #seo, #social, #social-media, #social-media-marketing, #startups, #tc, #twitter, #verified-experts, #viral-marketing

Emergence’s Jason Green still sees plenty of opportunities for enterprise SaaS startups

Jason Green, co-founder and partner at Emergence, has made some solid enterprise SaaS bets over the years, long before it was fashionable to do so. He invested early in companies like Box, ServiceMax, Yammer, SteelBrick and SuccessFactors.

Just those companies alone would be a pretty good track record, but his firm also invested in Salesforce, Zoom, Veeva and Bill.com. One consistent thread runs through Emergence’s portfolio: They focus on the cloud and enterprise, a thesis that has paid off big time. What’s more, every one of those previously mentioned companies had a great founding team and successful exit via either IPO or acquisition.

I spoke with Green in June about his investment performance with enterprise SaaS to get a sense of the secret of his long-term success. We also asked a few of those portfolio company CEOs about what it has been like to work with him over time.

All in on SaaS

Green and his co-founders saw something when it came to the emerging enterprise SaaS market in the early 2000s that a lot of firms missed. Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff told a story in 2018 about his early attempts at getting funding for his company — and how every single Silicon Valley firm he talked to turned him down.

Green’s partner, Gordon Ritter, eventually invested in Salesforce as one of the company’s earliest investments because the partners saw something in the SaaS approach, even before the term entered the industry lexicon.

#aaron-levie, #box, #cloud, #david-sacks, #emergence, #enterprise, #enterprise-saas, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #jason-green, #saas, #servicemax, #tc, #yammer

How Moovit went from opportunity to a $900M exit in 8 years

In May 2020, Intel announced its purchase of Moovit, a mobility as a service (MaaS) solutions company known for an app that stitched together GPS, traffic, weather, crime and other factors to help mass transit riders reduce their travel times, along with time and worry.

According to a release, Intel believes combining Moovit’s data repository with the autonomous vehicle solution stack for its Mobileye subsidiary will strengthen advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) and help create a combined $230 billion total addressable market for data, MaaS and ADAS .

Before he was a member of Niantic’s executive team, private investor Omar Téllez was president of Moovit for the six years leading up to its acquisition. In this guest post for Extra Crunch, he offers a look inside Moovit’s early growth strategy, its efforts to achieve product-market fit and explains how rapid growth in Latin America sparked the company’s rapid ascent.


In late 2011, Uri Levine, a good friend from Silicon Valley and founder of Waze, asked me to visit Israel to meet Nir Erez and Roy Bick, two entrepreneurs who had launched an application they had called “the Waze of public transportation.”

By then, Waze was already in conversations to be sold (Google would finally buy it for $1.1 billion) and Uri was thinking about his next step. He was on the board of directors of Moovit (then called Tranzmate) and thought they could use a lot of help to grow and expand internationally, following Waze’s path.

At the time, I was part of Synchronoss Technologies’ management team. After Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank took us public in 2006, AT&T and Apple presented us with an idea that would change the world. It was so innovative and secret that we had to sign NDAs and personal noncompete agreements to work with them. Apple was preparing to launch the first iPhone and needed a system where users could activate devices from the comfort of their homes. As such, Synchronoss’ stock became very attractive to the capital markets and ours became the best public offering of 2006.

After six years with Synchronoss while also making some forays into the field of entrepreneurship, I was ready for another challenge. With that spirit in mind, I got on the plane for Israel.

I will always remember the landing at Ben Gurion airport. After 12 hours traveling from JFK, I was called to the front of the immigration line:

“Hey! The guy in the Moovit T-shirt, please come forward!”

For a second, I thought I was in trouble, but then the immigration officer said, Welcome to Israel! We are proud of our startups and we want the world to know that we are a high-tech powerhouse,” before he returned my passport and said goodbye.

I was completely amazed by his attitude and wondered if I really knew what I was getting into.

The opportunity in front of Moovit

At first glance, the numbers seemed very attractive. In 2012, there were roughly seven billion people in the world and only a billion vehicles. Thus, many more people used mass public transport than private and users had to face not only the uncertainty of when a transport would arrive, but also what might happen to them while waiting (e.g., personal safety issues, weather, etc.). Adding more uncertainty: Many people did not know the fastest way to get from point A to point B. As designed, mass public transport was a real nightmare for users.

Uri advised us to “fall in love with the problem and not with the solution,” which is what we tried to do at Moovit. Although Waze had spawned a new transportation paradigm and helped reduce traffic in big cities, mass transit was a much bigger monster that consumed an average of two hours of each day for some people, which adds up to 37 days of each year*!

What would you do if someone told you that in addition to your vacation days, an app could help you find 18 extra days off work next year by cutting your transportation time in half?

* Assumes 261 working days a year, 14 productive hours per day.

#adas, #apps, #automotive, #brazil, #chile, #colombia, #column, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #google, #growth-and-monetization, #israel, #latin-america, #ma, #maas, #mobility, #moovit, #sao-paulo, #sequoia-capital, #startups, #synchronoss-technologies, #tc, #transportation, #uri-levine, #waze

Accessing social groups through referrals

We’ve aggregated many of the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Our community consists of startup founders and heads of growth. You can participate by joining Demand Curve’s marketing training program or its Slack group.

Without further ado, on to our community’s advice.


Accessing social groups through referrals

Excerpt from Demand Curve’s Growth Training.

A surprising benefit of referrals is how they often lead to social partnership opportunities.

Consider this process:

  1. Find your happiest users.
  2. Figure out what social groups they belong to. This could be anything from a female founders group, to university alumni networks, to a restaurant management trade association.
  3. How do you find out? Just ask them what groups they belong to. Don’t be afraid of conversation.
  4. Ask the happy user to connect you with the heads of those groups. Solve a problem they collectively have — even if it’s only tangentially related to your business. What matters is that more of these ideal customers know and trust you. You can also refer speakers, offer deals, write content for them or offer free office hours.
  5. Down the road, these people inevitably send you referrals.
  6. Reach out cold to people in other, similar groups. Reference the endorsement of the original group and provide a case study (with their permission).

Going through groups can be a high-leverage way to land and expand into ideal audiences.

Pixel-sharing tactics

#column, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #online-advertising, #social-media, #social-media-marketing, #startups, #targeted-advertising, #tc, #verified-experts

Y Combinator President Geoff Ralston shares actionable advice for startup founders

Running a startup accelerator comes with a number of occupational hazards, but “skepticism is the easiest thing to fall into when you’ve seen too many companies,” said Y Combinator President Geoff Ralston, “and it’s the thing you have to avoid the most.”

Ralston joined me last week for an hour-long Extra Crunch Live interview where we talked about several topics, including how YC has adapted its program during the pandemic, why he has “never stopped coding” and what he sees changing in tech.

“We try to not be too smart, because great founders often see things beyond what you’re seeing,” he said. “If you try to be too smart, you’ll miss the Airbnbs of the world. You’ll say ‘Airbeds in peoples houses? That’s stupid! I’m not going to invest in that,’ and you could’ve bought 10% of Airbnb for like nothing back then… 10% of that company… you can do your own math.”


Extra Crunch Live is our new virtual event series where we sit down with some of the top founders, investors and builders in tech to glean every bit of insight they care to share. We’ve recently been joined by folks like Hunter Walk, Kirsten Green and Mark Cuban.

To watch the entire interview with Geoff Ralston, sign up for ExtraCrunch — but once you’ve got that covered, you can find it (and a bunch of key excerpts from the chat!) below.


Advice for getting into YC

I prefer it when an Extra Crunch Live conversation starts out with actionable advice, so we kicked things off with any suggestions Ralston had for folks looking to apply to YC. And he had plenty! Such as:

  • Mind the deadline, but all hope is not lost if you miss it: “If you miss the deadline, it’s not the end of the world,” says Ralston. “Don’t tell anyone on the admissions team that I said this, but it’s a little bit of a soft deadline. We would never turn down the next epic company because you missed the deadline… although your odds go down of getting in if you don’t make it in by [the deadline]. Why shouldn’t your odds be as high as possible?”
  • Don’t change things up for YC’s sake: “Do whatever you can do to make your company as successful, as real as possible… but don’t try to like, pretty up your company for YC,” he says. “That’s never smart [to do] for an investor. Don’t make bad short-term decisions because you think there’s a deadline that you should do wrong things for. Instead, build your company for the long term, and do the best you can possibly do to find product market fit, to build the right product, to build the right technology, to build the right software or whatever it is you’re building.”

Later in the video (around the 40:55 mark), a question from the audience leads Ralston back to the topic, and he has a few more pieces of advice:

  • Stick to the instructions: “The instructions are fairly clear. It says: do a one-minute video, have all the founders there, and talk to us. That’s a good idea! Don’t give us some marketing video, we’re not interested in that. That’s not how we’re making our decision.”
  • Hone your pitch: “Think about expressing yourself concisely, with great clarity. It does not help to write a book in the application. Be kind to us! We’re reading, you know, hundreds of applications. Get your idea across as clearly as you can. That’s actually a really good signal to us, if you can describe what you’re doing with a minimum of words. That helps us a ton.”
  • Tell your story: “Do not skimp on talking about yourselves!” Ralston notes. “We are super interested in you, who you are, and why you’re doing what you’re doing.”

#entrepreneurship, #events, #extra-crunch, #extra-crunch-live, #geoff-ralston, #growth-and-monetization, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #y-combinator

Three growth marketing experts share their best tools and strategies for 2020

At last month’s Early Stage virtual event, channel growth experts joined TechCrunch reporters and editors for a series of conversations covering the best tools and strategies for building startups in 2020. For this post, I’ve recapped highlights of talks with:

  • Ethan Smith, founder and CEO, Graphite
  • Susan Su, startup growth advisor, executive-in-residence, Sound Ventures
  • Asher King-Abramson, founder, Got Users

If you’d like to hear or watch these conversations in their entirety, we’ve embedded the videos below.


Ethan Smith: How to build a high-performance SEO engine

Relying on internet searches to learn about growth topics like search engine optimization leads to a rabbit hole of LinkedIn thinkfluencer musings and decade-old Quora posts. Insights are few and far between, because SEO has changed dramatically as Google has squashed spammy techniques “specialists” have pushed for years.

Ethan Smith, owner of growth agency Graphite, says Google didn’t kill SEO, but the channel has evolved. “SEO has built a negative reputation over time of being spammy,” Smith says. “The typical flow of an SEO historically has been: I need to find every single keyword I possibly can find and auto-generate a mediocre page for each of those keywords, the user experience doesn’t really matter, content can be automated and spun, the key is fooling the bot.”

Artificial intelligence has disrupted this flow as algorithms have abandoned hard-coded rules for more flexible designs that are less vulnerable to being gamed. What SEO looks like today, Smith says, is all about trying to “figure out what the algorithm is trying to accomplish and try to accomplish the same thing.” Google’s algorithms aren’t looking for buckets of keywords, they’re looking to distill a user’s intent.

The key to building a strategy around SEO as a company breaks down into six steps surrounding intent, says Smith:

  1. Target by intent

    #advertising-tech, #artificial-intelligence, #brand-marketing, #digital-marketing, #email, #ethan-smith, #events, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #online-advertising, #search-engine-optimization, #startups, #susan-su, #tc, #techcrunch-early-stage, #verified-experts

Funding in an uncertain market: using venture debt to bridge the gap

While a handful of tech companies like Zoom and Shopify are enjoying massive gains as a result of COVID-19, that’s obviously not the case for most. Weaker demand, slower sales cycles, and customer insistence on pricing concessions and payment deferrals have conspired to cloud the outlook for many tech companies’ growth.

Compounding these challenges, a lot of tech companies are struggling to raise capital just when they need it most. The data so far suggests that investors, particularly those focused on earlier stage financings, are taking a more cautious approach to new deals and valuations while they wait to see how individual companies perform and which way the economy will go. With the outcome of their planned equity financings uncertain, some tech companies are revisiting their funding strategies and exploring alternative sources of capital to fuel their continued growth.

Forecasting growth in a pandemic: a difficult job just got harder

For certain businesses, COVID-19’s impact on revenue was immediate. For others, the effects of slower economic activity and tighter budgets surfaced more gradually with deals in the funnel before the pandemic closing in April and May. Either way, in the second half of 2020, technology CFOs face a common challenge: How do you accurately forecast sales when there’s very little consensus around key issues such as when business activity will return to pre-COVID levels and what the long-term effects of the crisis might be?

Unfortunately, navigating this uncertainty is just as daunting a challenge for investors. These days, equity investors’ assessment of a company’s growth potential, and the value they are willing to pay for that growth, aren’t just impacted by their view of the company itself. Equally important is their assumptions about when the economy will recover and what the new normal might look like. This uncertainty can lead to situations where companies and their potential investors have materially different views on valuation.

Longer funding cycles, more investor-friendly deals

While the full impact of COVID was felt too late to have a material impact on Q1 deal volumes, recently released data from Pitchbook and the NVCA suggest that 2020 will see a significant decrease in the number of companies funded, possibly by as much 30 percent compared to 2019 among early stage companies. And, while it often takes several months to see evidence of broad trends in investment terms, anecdotal evidence indicates investors are seeking to mitigate risk by demanding additional protective provisions.

#column, #corporate-finance, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #funding, #growth-and-monetization, #investment, #money, #nvca, #private-equity, #shopify, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #venture-debt, #zoom

More thoughts on growing podcasts

We’ve aggregated many of the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Our community consists of startup founders and heads of growth. You can participate by joining Demand Curve’s marketing training program or its Slack group.

Without further ado, on to our community’s advice.


More thoughts on growing podcasts

Insights from Harry Morton of Lower Street.

Podcast growth is all about relationships. To increase your listenership, consider partnering with:

  1. Other podcasters. Do an episode swap where you play an episode of your show on theirs, and vice versa. Make sure the two podcasts share similarly minded audiences.
  2. Curators. Every podcast aggregator has someone responsible for curating their featured content. Look them up on LinkedIn. Reach out via email. Be their friend. Send them only your best stuff.
  3. Subscribers. You rise in Apple’s podcast charts (which account for 60% of podcast listenership) by having a subscriber growth spurt in a concentrated period of time (24-48 hours). So, when you release an episode, immediately run your audience promotions aggressively and all at once.

Increasing referral incentives might not increase referrals

#column, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #podcasts, #social-media-marketing, #startups, #tc, #verified-experts

The essential revenue software stack

From working with our 90+ portfolio companies and their customers, as well as from frequent conversations with enterprise leaders, we have observed a set of software services emerge and evolve to become best practice for revenue teams. This set of services — call it the “revenue stack” — is used by sales, marketing and growth teams to identify and manage their prospects and revenue.

The evolution of this revenue stack started long before anyone had ever heard the word coronavirus, but now the stakes are even higher as the pandemic has accelerated this evolution into a race. Revenue teams across the country have been forced to change their tactics and tools in the blink of an eye in order to adapt to this new normal — one in which they needed to learn how to sell in not only an all-digital world but also an all-remote one where teams are dispersed more than ever before. The modern “remote-virtual-digital”-enabled revenue team has a new urgency for modern technology that equips them to be just as — and perhaps even more — productive than their pre-coronavirus baseline. We have seen a core combination of solutions emerge as best-in-class to help these virtual teams be most successful. Winners are being made by the directors of revenue operations, VPs of revenue operations, and chief revenue officers (CROs) who are fast adopters of what we like to call the essential revenue software stack.

In this stack, we see four necessary core capabilities, all critically interconnected. The four core capabilities are:

  1. Revenue enablement.
  2. Sales engagement.
  3. Conversational intelligence.
  4. Revenue operations.

These capabilities run on top of three foundational technologies that most growth-oriented companies already use — agreement management, CRM and communications. We will dive into these core capabilities, the emerging leaders in each and provide general guidance on how to get started.

Revenue enablement

#artificial-intelligence, #column, #communication-tools, #contract-management, #crm, #customer-experience, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-success, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #finance, #growth-and-monetization, #highspot, #machine-learning, #madrona-venture-group, #marketing, #sales, #startups, #tc

Leverage AI to optimize customer service outcomes

As offices worldwide shift to remote work, our interactions with customers and colleagues have evolved in tandem. Professionals who once relied on face-to-face communication and firm handshakes must now close deals in a world where both are rare. Coworkers we once sat beside every day are now only available over Slack and Zoom, changing the nature of internal communication as well.

While this new reality presents a challenge, the advancement of key technologies allows us to not just adapt, but thrive. We are now on the precipice of the biggest revolution in workplace communication since the invention of the telephone.

It’s not enough to simply accept the new status quo, particularly as the overall economic climate remains tenuous. Artificial intelligence has much to offer in improving the way we speak to one another in the social distance era, and has already seen wide adoption in certain areas. Much of this algorithmic work has gone on behind the scenes of our most-used apps, such as Google Meet’s noise-canceling technology, which uses an AI to mute certain extraneous sounds on video calls. Other advances work in real-time right before our eyes — like Zoom’s myriad virtual backgrounds, or the automatic transcription and translation technology built into most video conferencing apps.

This kind of technology has helped employees realize that, despite the unprecedented shift to remote work, digital conversations do not just strive to recreate the in-person experience — rather, they can improve upon the way we communicate entirely.

It’s estimated that 65% of the workforce will be working remotely within the next five years. With a more hands-on approach to AI — that is, using the technology to actually augment everyday communications — workers can gain insight into concepts, workflows and ideas that would otherwise go unnoticed.

Your customer service experience

Roughly 55% of the data companies collect falls into the category of “dark data”: information that goes completely unused, kept on an internal server until it’s eventually wiped. Any company with a customer service department is invariably growing their stock of dark data with every chat log, email exchange and recorded call.

When a customer phones in with a query or complaint, they’re told early on that their call “may be recorded for quality assurance purposes.” Given how cheap data storage has become, there’s no “maybe” about it. The question is what to do with this data.

#artificial-intelligence, #chatbot, #column, #covid-19, #customer-experience, #customer-service, #cybernetics, #ecommerce, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #onboarding, #startups, #tc, #telecommuting, #video-conferencing

VC Garry Tan shares 3 ways founders screw up their startups

There are many painful ways for a startup to fail — including founders who ultimately throw in the towel and turn off the lights.

But assuming a founder intends to keeps moving forward, there are a few pitfalls that Garry Tan has seen during his career as a founder, Y Combinator partner and, lately, co-founder of venture firm Initialized Capital.

During a fun chat during last week’s TechCrunch Early Stage, he ran us through these avoidable mistakes; for those who couldn’t virtually attend, we’re sharing them with you here.

 1. Chasing the wrong problem

This sounds insane, right? How can you be blamed for wanting to solve a problem?

Tan says people choose the wrong problem for a wide variety of reasons: Founders sometimes choose a problem that isn’t problematic for enough people, he said, citing the example of a hypothetical 25-year-old San Francisco-based engineer who may be out of touch with the rest of the country. When founders target the wrong problem, it typically means that the market will be too small for a venture-like return.

#entrepreneur, #entrepreneurship, #events, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #garry-tan, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #initialized-capital, #john-sculley, #private-equity, #startups, #tc, #techcrunch-early-stage, #venture-capital, #verified-experts, #y-combinator

Priti Youssef Choksi explains how to get your startup acquired — not sold

Today, Priti Youssef Choksi is a partner with venture firm Norwest Venture Partners . But she previously spent five-and-a-half years at Google, where she worked on strategic partnerships, and nearly nine years at Facebook, where she began in corporate development and later focused on M&A.

Because Choksi knows firsthand how some of the biggest companies on the planet think about potential acquisition targets and how deals ultimately come together, we asked if she would share some of those insights with us during our recent founder-centric Early Stage event. The idea was to help attendees better how understand how — and why — certain acquisitions come together; her advice was so helpful that we wanted to share it more widely here.

So where to start? Choksi suggested people first understand the “build, partner, or buy” mentality of big acquirers. Indeed, while deals can look very much alike to outsiders (a deal is a deal is a deal), they are not. First, big companies will build internally if they are bolstering a strategic asset or what they need involves sensitive information or technology. A good example of something that Google would never buy, for example, is search tech, because search is the company’s crown jewel, she noted. Companies will meanwhile partner in order to fill a product or service gap or when they’re looking to stand up a new platform, she said, pointing to the early days of Google’s Android ecosystem.

As for when they finally go shopping, companies are driven by three things, said Choksi: talent, technology and traction. With talent, as you might imagine, companies may conduct an acqui-hire with the goal of filling a talent or leadership gap internally or to acquire niche skills that their current employees don’t already have, she said.

Companies meanwhile shop for technology when they need outside tech to boost their organic efforts. Choksi pointed to Luma.io by way of example. Back in 2013, the young company, which created a video-capture, stabilization and sharing app, was acquired by Instagram (which was itself already owned by Facebook); a week after it closed the Luma deal, Facebook launched video on Instagram largely based on Luma’s platform.

#acquihire, #acquisitions, #entrepreneurship, #events, #exit, #extra-crunch, #facebook, #fundings-exits, #google, #growth-and-monetization, #ma, #norwest-venture-partners, #priti-youssef-choksi, #startups, #tc, #techcrunch-early-stage

Teespring’s comeback story

Startup stories are often too reductive — an entrepreneur dreams up an idea, snags some co-founders, raises a bit of money, and presto: success and riches.

It’s nearly never true. Even breakout successes like Slack that may feel straightforward have complicated stories. Amongst the most valuable startups there are hidden crises and disappointing quarters. Some famous startups even had to execute a hard pivot after their original idea flopped. Slack was originally a gaming company, Twitter was a podcasting platform and YouTube wanted to be a dating service.

But not all startups that struggle and eventually make it have to completely toss out their original idea. Some just need to shake up operations before seeing the sort of success they’d hoped for.

Social e-commerce and fulfillment platform Teespring is one such company.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. You can read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


From a 2017-era round of layoffs and restructuring, the company is on an impressive, profitable growth curve today.

I was part of the reporting team that covered the company’s earlier struggles, which came after it raised more than $50 million in venture capital. So when Teespring wanted to discuss the numbers behind its recent growth, I was more than curious.

This morning, let’s look at how one startup found its groove a few years after we’d figured it was a done deal.

A comeback

Rewinding the clock, Teespring’s 2017 was a difficult period. The company had sharply cut staff as sales declined, cost reductions that helped push the startup from regular deficits into profitability.

At the time, reporting indicated that Teespring’s revenue fell off after it lost some power sellers and investments in goods other than T-shirts failed to materially improve its financial results. After the layoffs, Teespring raised $5 million at a diminished valuation to get back on its feet.

#e-commerce, #ecommerce, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #fundings-exits, #growth-and-monetization, #instagram, #market-analysis, #startups, #tc, #teespring, #the-exchange

Crisis management tips from startup whisperer Margit Wennmachers

When it comes to building a company, lots of things can and do go wrong. Margit Wennmachers — an operating partner at Andreessen Horowitz and long one of the most powerful public relations pros in the startup world — knows this firsthand.

Thankfully for all of you, Wennmachers was able to join us for our recent Early Stage event, where she shared some of her tips and tricks for dealing with everything from fast-ballooning crises that reporters catch wind of, to laying off people during a pandemic, to why lawsuits can actually fuel some companies’ growth.

It’s advice you might save for future reference. As she noted, how a crisis is handled can make or break a startup, and the list of things that can go wrong at even the smallest outfit is “long,” including a product needing to be recalled, a site going down, a cyber breach, a founding team that doesn’t get along, inappropriate behavior, lawsuits and cultural issues.

Some of her most actionable advice included:

How founders can prepare for the inevitable crisis

First, said Wennmachers, spend time modeling out the scenarios, and “let your imagination run wild” as you do. Spend a month on this if necessary. As you’re thinking of worst-case scenarios, also figure out the team that would be involved in a crisis response. Legal will always have to be involved but also, often, HR, outside counsel, and, if a startup can afford it, the help of an outside crisis communications team. If it’s a product failure, you’ll also need the product lead, too, she noted.

#andreessen-horowitz, #crisis-communications, #entrepreneurship, #events, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #hiring, #margit-wennmachers, #startups, #talent, #tc, #techcrunch-early-stage, #verified-experts

Building your startup’s customer advisory board

A customer advisory board (CAB) can be an invaluable resource for startups, but many founders struggle with putting together the right group of advisors and how to incentivize them. At our TechCrunch Early Stage event, Saam Motamedi, a general partner at Greylock Partners, talked about how he thinks about putting together the right CAB.

“We encourage all of our early-stage companies to put this in place,” Motamedi said. The goal here is to speed up the process to get to product/market fit since your CAB will provide you with regular feedback.

“The idea here is [that] you have this feedback loop from customers back to your product where you build, you go get feedback, you iterate — and the tighter this feedback loop is, the faster you’ll get to product-market fit. And you want to do things structurally to make this feedback loop tighter, starting with a CAB.”

Motamedi said a CAB should consist of about three to six customers. These should be “luminaries or forward thinkers” in the market you are serving. “You add them to the CAB — you might give them small advisory grants — and they become stakeholders and give you feedback as you work through the early stages of product development.”

Image Credits: Greylock Partners

As for the people who you put on the CAB, Motamedi suggests first setting the right expectations for the board.

“There are three components. Number one, the most valuable thing you can get from these customer advisors is their time. So the first piece is you want them to commit to a monthly cadence, that could be 60 minutes, it could be 90 minutes, where you’re going to say, ‘Hey, I’m going to come to the meeting, I’m going to bring two of my teammates, we’re going to show you the latest product demo, and you’re going to drill us with feedback. We’re going to do that once a month.’  […] And then piece two is this notion of customer days, you could do quarterly, you could also do twice a year.

“The idea is you want to bring the customers together. Because if you and I are both CIOs at Fortune 500 companies and we independently react to a product, that’s one thing, but if we sit in a room together, we all look at the product together, there’s going to be interesting data amongst us as customers and the founder is going to learn a lot from that.[…] And I think the third piece is just an expectation that as the company progresses and product maturity increases, that folks on the CAB are going to be advocates and evangelists for the company with their customer networks.”

Motamedi recommends outlining those expectations in a short document.

#entrepreneurship, #events, #extra-crunch, #greylock-partners, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #product-development, #product-management, #saam-motamedi, #startups, #tc, #techcrunch-early-stage, #verified-experts

Ann Miura-Ko’s framework for building a startup

As an early-stage investor, Floodgate’s Ann Miura-Ko looks for two breakthroughs in order to invest in a startup: The first happens in the value-seeking stage of a startup’s journey and the second occurs in its growth-seeking phase.

“There are really two stages to building a company,” Miura-Ko said at the TechCrunch Early Stage virtual event earlier this week. “One is what we call value-seeking mode, and this is where you’re really trying to figure out what the company actually looks like, including what’s the product? Who are you selling to? How do you price it? All of these things are still being discovered in the value-seeking mode.”

After founders have answered those questions, they can move into growth-seeking mode, she said. That’s the point when startups are trying to attract as many customers as possible.

Throughout these two distinct stages, Miura-Ko says she looks for the two breakthroughs: the inflection insight and product-market fit.

Inflection insights

The idea of an inflection insight, Miura-Ko said, is a relatively new framework Floodgate is exploring. Often times, she said founders need to ride some massive, exponential curves that allow their businesses to grow sustainably and scale.

These inflections have two parts to it: cause and impact. The causes are generally either technological (cloud, 5G), regulatory (GDPR, AV regulation) or societal (belief or behavior shifts). On the impact side, products and distribution may become cheaper or faster, while also presenting new use cases or customers, she said.

“Or even more interesting, you have something that was impossible that now is possible,” she said. “And that is an exponential impact that you could ride on.”

But simply finding that inflection insight doesn’t mean you should create a business. What founders must do next is determine if the insight is right and nonconsensus.

#ann-miura-ko, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #floodgate, #fundraising, #growth-and-monetization, #product-development, #startups, #tc

Messenger tools can help you recover millions in lost revenue

We’ve all had annoyingly memorable experiences with websites — websites that invite you to subscribe to browser notifications or bombard you with pop-ups that ask for your email before you’ve even had a chance to look around. That’s no way to do customer service. Yet many brands still use these lead capture tactics, ones that often permanently turn off would-be customers.

The principle that underlies these tactics makes sense; brands want the chance to communicate with those visitors more personally on a channel like email. But a gap most brands never bridge is the one between how personal they want to get with a website visitor and how personal they are in their initial interaction with that visitor.

In my experience as a marketer, there are few better ways to bridge that gap than a thoughtful implementation of messenger tools, those chat bubbles many big brands use to offer real-time customer support.

Implementing this strategy alone has allowed me to help my clients recover millions of dollars in what would have been lost revenue — more than $5 million for a local dentistry I’ve worked with. Here’s how it works, starting with where to deploy it.

Picking candidate pages through observing user flow and bounce rates

When picking pages for where to deploy messenger tools, the one principle to keep in mind is that you don’t want to offer customer support to those who don’t need it. So every time I implement messenger tools, I think about four key customer segments:

  1. A recurring website visitor — potentially an existing customer.
  2. Website visitors who have no interest in the product or service.
  3. Website visitors who have feature-related questions.
  4. Website visitors who are on the fence about buying a product or service offering.

Sometimes it’s obvious which category a website visitor falls into; for instance, someone who clicks on your client login portal is obviously already a customer and someone who rapidly clicks off your site is obviously not interested in your offering. But for most other users, it’s a lot less clear. That’s where heat map software used in tandem with Google Analytics could be tremendously helpful in mapping user behavior to a profile.

#analytics, #column, #customer-service, #ecommerce, #extra-crunch, #google-analytics, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #live-chat, #messenger, #startups, #web-analytics, #windows-live-messenger

What you need to know before selling your company’s stock

In a recent article, I covered all of the reasons you might be tempted to hold a highly concentrated position in your company stock as a tech founder and how it fits into your portfolio. I then followed up with a rundown on why resisting diversification is generally a bad idea and the subconscious biases that hold us back from selling.

So now that you understand the benefits of diversification and have taken inventory of your portfolio, what is the most effective way for you to move forward? I will share with you what to keep in mind before selling, how to decide when to sell, and strategies to execute sales such as options, exchange funds, prepaid variable forward contracts, qualified small business stock and tax considerations. Now, let’s take a deep dive into strategic approaches to take as a shareholder and important tax implications to consider.

Keep in mind: Lockups and blackout periods

Most tech companies that IPO have a 180-day lockup period that prevents insiders, employees and VC funds from selling immediately. There is usually language that also prohibits hedging with derivatives (options) during that period. Lockups are intended to help prevent insider trading and provide the company with additional post-IPO price stability.

It is also important to abide by the company’s blackout periods, which prohibit transactions during more share-price-sensitive times, such as earnings or material nonpublic information releases.

Concentrated stock strategies

Ad hoc selling — This is the most straightforward and involves the outright sale of your shares. However, this can be difficult for various reasons such as selling restrictions, the perception by others that you are unloading stock and many psychological biases that act as internal mental obstacles.

Scheduled selling — Selling all your stock at once could be both emotionally challenging and tax-inefficient. Scheduled selling involves the selling of a set number of shares over a specific period. This selling strategy can help by spreading the tax impact over a few years. It also provides an advantage from a psychological standpoint since the plan is determined upfront, then mechanically executed.

As an example, a founder might plan to sell 500,000 shares over 18 months. The founder is comfortable selling quarterly, which equals six selling periods of 83,333 shares per quarter. In a scenario where a founder is subject to blackout periods, a 10b5-1 trading plan can be implemented and set on autopilot. The company may even allow you to sell your shares during blackout periods with a 10b5-1 trading plan. See the example of scheduled selling below.

Image Credits: Keystone Global Partners

Hedging with options — Multiple hedging strategies can be implemented to protect your downside; however, some of the more common approaches used are the protective put and the protective collar. Below are basic examples of how these strategies are executed, for illustrative purposes.

Image Credits: Keystone Global Partners

  • Protective put: Buying protection against the downside.
  • Collar: Give up some upside to limit some downside.

Each strategy allows the owner to continue holding the stock while providing some downside protection against a stock’s decline. However, these strategies are not tax-efficient and are complicated, so working with an expert is essential. Both puts and certain types of collars would have been extremely expensive to implement during the recent market crisis because market volatility is a factor in options prices. See the below chart of the VIX (volatility index) during peak crisis. However, in some instances, these strategies can make sense.

#advisor, #column, #corporate-finance, #entrepreneurship, #exit, #extra-crunch, #funding, #fundings-exits, #fundraising, #growth-and-monetization, #initial-public-offering, #ipo, #startups, #u-s-securities-and-exchange-commission

Creating a robust churn-reversal system

We’ve aggregated many of the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Our community consists of startup founders and heads of growth. You can participate by joining Demand Curve’s marketing training program or its Slack group.

Without further ado, on to our community’s advice.


Creating a robust churn-reversal system

Insights from Matthew Morley of Savvy

Generally, it’s far more efficient to keep a current client than it is to close a new one. You’ll want a system to help you identify which users are at risk of churning. This way, you can proactively reach out to them before they leave.

Start by identifying your high-value customers at risk of churning:

Who is:

  • Spending within the top 10% of time using your app?
  • Has a substantial number of seats of your product?
  • Or, say, has a company size of at least 50 people — reflecting their upselling potential?

But also:

  • Is using the product 30% less in a given month
  • Has submitted at least one non-trivial support ticket in the last month
  • And has their subscription renew in less than 90 days

And so on.

You can stitch this information together from multiple sources like Stripe, Mixpanel, Crunchbase and Intercom. Then, set up an alert to notify your team once someone falls into these buckets.

Then reach out with something personal to win back their enthusiasm. It can be high leverage to get them on the phone to uncover what’s keeping them around.

#column, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #slack, #social, #social-media-marketing, #startups, #video-ads

TikTok is a marketers’ shiny new toy, but how do you optimize campaigns?

TikTok is a rising star in the social media category. Since its launch three years ago, the company has secured 800 million active users worldwide. That makes TikTok ninth in terms of social network sites, ahead of LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Snapchat. As more people start using the platform and remain engaged, it goes without saying that TikTok is an increasingly desirable destination for marketers.

But outside the sheer numbers, is there any real sustenance to the platform from a marketing perspective, or is this just a temporary fad brands are flocking to? Here’s a look into what makes TikTok unique through a marketer’s lens, and a few things the platform can improve on to make it a permanent option for brands looking to explore mobile.

Better user experiences lead to more unique advertising

Digital advertising is only as effective as a platform’s user experience — that fact presents a unique differentiator for TikTok. Being in 2020, where content creators continue to blossom, TikTok provides an opportunity for literally anyone to reach millions of people with their content. It is a “platform for the people,” as the algorithm sends user content to groups of 5-10 people, and based on the engagement, it will continue sending it out to the masses. What’s interesting here is that it resembles an early era of Instagram, where all content was user-generated.

Additionally, unlike other leading social media channels, a user is focused on one piece of content at a time. TikTok videos take up the entire screen, which leads to more engagement and genuine interest from the viewer. That said, creative plays an incredibly important role in every campaign you run on the platform, especially when trying to grab the user amid a mass of alternative entertainment options. The TikTok audience is hyperfocused on viewing organic, visually stimulating content that could be the next big meme or viral sensation.

Creative is the key

#apps, #bytedance, #column, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #mobile, #online-advertising, #targeted-advertising, #tc, #tiktok, #verified-experts

Ford’s Bronco relaunch demonstrates the power of nostalgia

Ford is finally taking the wraps off the reborn Bronco next week. Literally. The company has teased the vehicle for months, showing a camouflaged SUV bouncing through rocky streams and charging over dusty hills. This week, the wraps come off and the sheet metal will finally be exposed.

The launch of the Bronco looks to be a masterclass in nostalgia. For the last few weeks, Ford has been feeding journalists with media assets — pictures, staged interviews, and upcoming advertisements. And I’ve yet to see the full vehicle because in the end, Ford is not relying on the Bronco itself to drive sales, but rather, is digging deep into the power of nostalgia to move the Bronco off lots.

Recalling the past can help companies develop a unified theme around a product or service. And in this case with the Bronco, only recalling part of the past helps companies dial in messaging. With Ford, the company wants consumers in agreement: this is a tough vehicle and it’s always been a tough vehicle. Forget about OJ, these adverts say. Instead, look at how the Bronco was used by two burly men bounding over the rolling hills of a cattle ranch. Ford is digging deep into American lore to show the Bronco as a rugged conqueror of the frontier instead of a conqueror of parking lot flowerbeds.

The Bronco is an iconic American vehicle. It wasn’t the best selling, nor the best performing vehicle in its class. It had reliability issues, and was often underpowered and outclassed by competitors. And yet, like the Mustang, it was a hit for Ford. In 1966 Ford unveiled the Bronco as a competitor to the Jeep CJ-5 and International Harvester Scout. Ford took the Bronco racing, and racked up wins in long-distance endurance races. Over its 31-year run, the Bronco remained true to itself as a two-door, sport utility vehicle.

The upcoming model is set to be different than the past. Ford is relaunching the Bronco as a family of vehicles with three models at launch. Little is known about the difference at this time, though the family appears to include a two-door off-roader, four door version and an entry-level sport model.

The launch of the new Bronco is similar to how Ford launched the retro Mustang in 2005. At the time, the Mustang was coming off decades of stale designs and lagging sales. The Fox body Mustang of the 80s was boring at best (though the 5.0 engine is notable), and the swooping design of the ’90s model was uninspired. In 1999, Ford launched a sharp, modern take on the Mustang, and yet in a few years, it was time for something new.

#automotive, #brand-marketing, #extra-crunch, #ford, #ford-mustang, #growth-and-monetization, #market-analysis, #nintendo, #tc, #transportation

Breaking down the specs of a successful video ad

Picture the drive to work you used to make every day before the COVID-19 pandemic struck — the same route, the same time and the same old billboards on the side of the freeway. Your drive to work isn’t about discovering new products or services, so in theory, you wouldn’t care about the dental offices, lawyers or whatever else that billboard is promoting.

But when there comes a day when your tooth aches and your insurance no longer covers your old provider, you might end up calling the number on that billboard after seeing it hundreds of times. That’s the billboard effect.

Digital marketing has largely left billboards in the dust, making it far easier to reach any of the billions of people online. But that doesn’t mean brands should be ignoring the principles that made billboards work in the first place.

Over the last five years, I’ve helped clients implement those principles by running video ads and have, for instance, helped a family lawyer in Joliet, Illinois book 130 phone calls with $1,000 in advertising spend with the strategy. Here’s how it works from start to finish.

The key to optimizing phone calls: Don’t link your website

While many brands already see the value in video marketing, most still don’t know how to go about making an effective video without having to hire an expensive video production company. Remember, the video doesn’t have to be a high-production project; it just has to get the message across to the right audience and give people a way to learn more.

Videos generally have three components:

#advertising-tech, #column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #ecommerce, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #startups, #video-advertising

Clockwise CEO Matt Martin: How we closed an $18M Series B during a pandemic

It all started with an email from a customer: “Do you know why Bain Capital Ventures is reaching out to me about Clockwise?”

That email would mark the beginning of a journey toward closing $18 million in new funding that will dramatically accelerate my company, Clockwise . It would require getting to know a partner in lockdown, long nights assembling a pitch deck and many bleary-eyed Zoom calls with some of the best VCs in the world.

Here’s how Ajay Agarwal from Bain Capital Ventures and I established trust online, how I made high-stakes decisions in extreme economic uncertainty and how we were able to turn the pandemic’s constraints into opportunities.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Building momentum: 2016 to 2020

Clockwise was founded in late fall of 2016. We realized that, as personal as time is, our schedules inside modern work environments are intertwined by a network of calendar events and attendees. People schedule meetings without considering the preferences of colleagues by simply hunting for any available “white space” (read: time to do real work). The net effect is that our most valuable resource, time, is easy to take and almost impossible to protect.

More than two years later, in June of 2019, we launched Clockwise to the public. After years of experimentation and refinement, we delivered to the world an intelligent calendar assistant that frees up your time so you can focus on what matters. Workers soon confirmed our hunch that they’re hungry for a tool that gives them more productive hours in their day. Our rapid user growth carried throughout 2019.

By January of 2020, we were on fire. Since January 1, our user base has grown by more than 90%, expanding at a clip of well over 5% week-over-week. As people sought remote tools during shelter-in-place, our rate of growth accelerated even further.

Our growth, incredible team, top-tier existing investors (Accel and Greylock) and strong cash position meant we didn’t need to raise additional capital until the fall of 2020. While COVID-19 certainly sent shock waves through the community, I was in regular communication with a few highly engaged investors who still seemed eager to invest in the future of productivity. I felt cautiously confident more capital could wait.

But, you know, best-laid plans.

Establishing trust while sheltering in place

#ajay-agarwal, #articles, #bain-capital-ventures, #board-member, #clockwise, #column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #entrepreneur, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #fundings-exits, #growth-and-monetization, #recent-funding, #reputation-management, #software, #startups, #venture-capital

Long-term profitability is the only growth metric that matters

Your company’s one metric that matters (OMTM) shouldn’t be return on investment (ROI), return on ad spend (ROAS), net promoter score (NPS), brand affinity or one of the other sophisticated-sounding acronyms marketers use to gauge success.

Your company’s one metric that matters should be long-term profitability.

Put another way, your business should be singularly focused on how much money it can return to its owners, investors and shareholders. Sounds obvious, right?

You’d be surprised: A majority of Fortune 500 and Silicon Valley startup marketing budgets aren’t optimized for long-term profitability.

Instead, budgets are often optimized for secondary or upper-funnel metrics. Besides tracking ROI, ROAS, NPS and brand affinity, many marketers monitor key performance indicators (KPI) like net revenue, customer acquisition cost (CAC), cost per thousand (CPM) and brand recall — none of which directly correlate with long-term profitability.

In fact, many brands’ marketing departments frequently omit the word “profit” all together from the line items and KPIs in their monthly performance reports.

A good way to think about the futility of the KPI status quo is the following fictional scenario, which reflects the marketing and advertising playbooks of a shockingly large segment of American businesses: Main Street Shoes spends $100 on a Facebook ad campaign to promote a new line of sneakers to Jack and Andrew. As a result of the retailer’s Facebook ad campaign, Jack and Andrew each spend $100 to buy new sneakers.

#advertising, #column, #customer-lifetime-value, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #ltv, #marketing, #product-management, #retail, #startups, #verified-experts

In uncertain times, jump start your SEO

As a result of the current economic volatility many startups and even established companies are proceeding with caution on paid marketing that is typically lower in the purchase funnel. Sales and funnel and buying behavior has changed and it is hard to have confidence in advertising models that used to work at the beginning of the year.

Therefore, this is an ideal time to develop or ramp up organic search engine optimization efforts. If you have not yet invested in SEO, these are the seven steps you can take immediately to get started.

1. Get your search data house in order

Tools to help you organize your search data include Google Search Console. These tools are geared toward helping you get the best type of search data possible by search traffic and performance for your website, as well as identifying issues that you can fix to improve your Google Search results.

Although there are beneficial tools available that show visibility, which helps you see who ranks on what, those work primarily for tracking competitors. To understand your own visibility as well as the keywords and pages that drive organic traffic to your site, Google Search Console delivers that data.

2. Conduct a technical SEO audit

The goal of a technical SEO audit is to find specific SEO issues that keep your website from ranking. These SEO issues could include things like a missing no-index tag, too many H1 tags, low value pages, 404 errors and duplicate content.

There are many SEO audit tools available that can help you catch these issues. With Google’s ongoing algorithm updates, a technical SEO audit can help ensure your website is optimized for these changes.

#column, #digital-marketing, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #product-management, #search-engine, #search-engine-optimization, #seo, #verified-experts, #web-analytics

Gauging growth in the most challenging environment in decades

Traditionally, measuring business success requires a greater understanding of your company’s go-to-market lifecycle, how customers engage with your product and the macro-dynamics of your market. But in the most challenging environment in decades, those metrics are out the window.

Enterprise application and SaaS companies are changing their approach to measuring performance and preparing to grow when the economy begins to recover. While there are no blanket rules or guidance that applies to every business, company leaders need to focus on a few critical metrics to understand their performance and maximize their opportunities. This includes understanding their burn rate, the overall real market opportunity, how much cash they have on hand and their access to capital. Analyzing the health of the company through these lenses will help leaders make the right decisions on how to move forward.

Play the game with the hand you were dealt. Earlier this year, our company closed a $40 million Series C round of funding, which left us in a strong cash position as we entered the market slowdown in March. Nonetheless, as the impact of COVID-19 became apparent, one of our board members suggested that we quickly develop a business plan that assumed we were running out of money. This would enable us to get on top of the tough decisions we might need to make on our resource allocation and the size of our staff.

While I understood the logic of his exercise, it is important that companies develop and execute against plans that reflect their actual situation. The reality is, we did raise the money, so we revised our plan to balance ultra-conservative forecasting (and as a trained accountant, this is no stretch for me!) with new ideas for how to best utilize our resources based on the market situation.

Burn rate matters, but not at the expense of your culture and your talent. For most companies, talent is both their most important resource and their largest expense. Therefore, it’s usually the first area that goes under the knife in order to reduce the monthly spend and optimize efficiency. Fortunately, heading into the pandemic, we had not yet ramped up hiring to support our rapid growth, so were spared from having to make enormously difficult decisions. We knew, however, that we would not hit our 2020 forecast, which required us to make new projections and reevaluate how we were deploying our talent.

#business, #cloud, #column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #enterprise, #entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #market-analysis, #saas, #startups

Startup dilution done right: Lemonade IPO edition

Every founder’s biggest fear is dilution — investors constantly carving off chunks of their equity in round after round of venture financing. Founders collectively own 100% of their companies in the beginning, but it isn’t uncommon for them to own single digits after years have gone by and millions of VC dollars have flowed into their startup.

So I was a bit surprised to see the numbers today in Lemonade’s S-1 that showed just how well the company has been able to grow its invested capital and valuation while taking relatively little dilution. If you are a founder looking for a role model, Lemonade may just be the best scenario you can have while raising nearly $500 million in preferred equity funding across five rounds.

#exit, #extra-crunch, #finance, #fundings-exits, #growth-and-monetization, #initial-public-offering, #lemonade, #market-analysis, #startups, #venture-capital

The best investment every digital brand can make during the COVID-19 pandemic

Intuitively, stores that sell online should be making a killing during the COVID-19 pandemic. After all, everyone is stuck at home — and understandably more willing to shop online instead of at a traditional retailer to avoid putting themselves and others at medical risk. But the truth is, most smaller online stores have seen better days.

The primary challenge is that smaller shops often don’t have the logistics networks that companies like Amazon do. Consequently, they’re seeing substantially delayed delivery timelines, especially if they ship internationally. Customers obviously aren’t thrilled about that reality. And in many cases, they’re requesting refunds at a staggering rate.

I saw this play out firsthand in April. At that point, my stores were down 20% or in some cases even 30% in revenue. Needless to say, my team was freaking out. But there’s one thing we did that helped us increase our revenue over 200% since the pandemic, decrease refund requests and even strengthen our existing customer relationships.

We implemented a 24-hour live chat in all of our stores. Here’s why it worked for us and why every digital brand should be doing it too.

Avoid the common ‘unreachability’ frustration

When I started my first online store in 2006, challenges that bogged my team down often meant that my team’s first priority became resolving those challenges so that we could serve our customers faster. But admittedly, when these challenges came up, it became more difficult to balance communicating with our customers and resolving the issues that prevented us from fulfilling their orders quickly.

#column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #customer-relationship-management, #customer-support, #ecommerce, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #marketing-strategy, #online-shopping, #online-stores, #retail, #startups, #verified-experts

How startups can leverage elastic services for cost optimization

Due to COVID-19, business continuity has been put to the test for many companies in the manufacturing, agriculture, transport, hospitality, energy and retail sectors. Cost reduction is the primary focus of companies in these sectors due to massive losses in revenue caused by this pandemic. The other side of the crisis is, however, significantly different.

Companies in industries such as medical, government and financial services, as well as cloud-native tech startups that are providing essential services, have experienced a considerable increase in their operational demands — leading to rising operational costs. Irrespective of the industry your company belongs to, and whether your company is experiencing reduced or increased operations, cost optimization is a reality for all companies to ensure a sustained existence.

One of the most reliable measures for cost optimization at this stage is to leverage elastic services designed to grow or shrink according to demand, such as cloud and managed services. A modern product with a cloud-native architecture can auto-scale cloud consumption to mitigate lost operational demand. What may not have been obvious to startup leaders is a strategy often employed by incumbent, mature enterprises — achieving cost optimization by leveraging managed services providers (MSPs). MSPs enable organizations to repurpose full-time staff members from impacted operations to more strategic product lines or initiatives.

Why companies need cost optimization in the long run

#business-process-management, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #cloud-infrastructure, #column, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #economy, #enterprise, #extra-crunch, #finance, #financial-services, #growth-and-monetization, #managed-services, #manufacturing, #pricing, #saas, #startups, #subscription-services

We throw away 80% of our content ideas, and you should too

We’ve talked a bit publicly about our ideation process, but to be honest, it’s constantly evolving. With every piece of content we create and promote, we gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t.

But part of that process has always been allowing for the creative freedom to come up with ideas and then — and most importantly — kill your darlings if they don’t meet the criteria for a good idea.

It’s not always easy; creativity is personal. But culling the list of ideas is necessary for a successful content plan.

So how do you know which ones to cut?

Ask yourself these questions.

Is the idea packed with emotion?

Make a list of all the emotions associated with your idea. If you can’t think of any, it means the idea may need some tweaking, or you need to explore it in more depth.

Even helpful how-to content is tied to emotion. Take, for example, “Give Your Kids the Gift of Automotive Repair Skills While You’re Home Together,” a genius piece of content by Car and Driver.

There’s the emotional component of it being in the context of COVID-19, yes, but it’s more than that. It’s about spending quality time with your children and teaching them crucial skills. Related emotions include love, pride, empowerment, accountability, parental responsibility and more.

And the content creators were smart enough to call out the emotional component, like they did here:

The post garnered nearly 5,000 engagements on Facebook, which to me indicates it hit the sweet spot of being helpful while also tapping into our emotions.

Fractl did a study back in 2013 that explored which type of emotions were the most prevalent in viral images, and, as it turns out, positive emotions had more representation than negative ones. Most prevalent of all? Surprise. People enjoy being astonished, delighted and unexpectedly joyful. Do any of your content ideas fit this bill?

#column, #content-marketing, #coronavirus, #covid-19, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #startups, #verified-experts

Use dynamic CTAs to close more B2B leads

We’ve aggregated many of the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice that’s hard to find elsewhere.

Our community consists of startup founders and heads of growth. You can participate by joining Demand Curve’s marketing training program or its Slack group.

Without further ado, onto our community’s advice.


Use an omnichannel approach for more remote sales

Insights from Paige Harris of Smile.io.

High-margin consumer goods justify a personalized sales funnel. That’s why companies like offline cosmetics retailers employ a small army of sales reps to make calls and do home demos.

In today’s COVID-19 world, retailers are having to move this process from in-person to online. It’s easier said than done.

Here’s one process that some offline retailers (with high-margin products) are finding works:

  1. Turn those sales calls into Zoom sessions: Sales reps adapt their home demos to Zoom demos.

    #column, #digital-marketing, #ecommerce, #extra-crunch, #growth-and-monetization, #growth-marketing, #marketing, #merchandising, #online-shopping, #referral-marketing, #startups

Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green demystifies the COVID-19 consumer

“In general, the consumer has proven to be more resilient than I would have thought,” said Kirsten Green, founder of Forerunner Ventures, which has investments in breakout D2C stars like Glossier, Hims and Bonobos.

She joined us for an Extra Crunch Live conversation to help us better understand buying habits in the COVID-19 era. With tens of millions out of work and uncertainty all around, people are spending less, but Green showed up with a healthy dose of optimism — while acknowledging that her worst-case scenario planning was wrong.

Her top-line advice for companies

Take a cautious approach, be prepared to make hard decisions, but be thoughtful about that. Don’t just make a knee jerk-reaction, which is “this is the apocalypse, we all need 36 months of runway, fire half your staff and go to the bunker.” I think the biggest opportunity for companies right now in many ways is to create value by demonstrating their flexibility.

#coronavirus, #covid-19, #d2c, #direct-to-consumer, #dtc, #ecl, #ecommerce, #events, #extra-crunch, #extra-crunch-live, #forerunner-ventures, #glossier, #growth-and-monetization, #kirsten-green, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital