Week Five – Growth Hacking

I always meet very interesting people when I visit General Assembly in New York. Upon arriving Monday before teaching my class, Growth Hacking or How to get your first 1000 (or 500,000) users I ran into one of the inventors on a patent in an area in which I have great interest. Later, in the class, I had company founders from NYC, an entrepreneur from San Francisco, a securities analyst with J.P. Morgan, someone from the London Business School and the brand partnerships manager for Klout. For those of you who are interested, here is a copy of my class presentation:

Of course the StartFast 2012 Teams have been doing their own Growth Hacking during week 5, figuring which campaigns yield the best results. Regardless of the results, learning rapidly is the desired outcome. For example, getting 0 clicks from a very specifically targeted Facebook campaign is definitely telling you something. It might mean that ones assumptions about target markets may need revision.  Of course, rapid growth tells you something too.

Speaking of rapid growth, GuardMyAngel has nearly doubled the organic rate of new user acquisition by adding Facebook integration. The indications are that this is a naturally viral app. Since joining the StartFast program, Guard My Angel’s development and go-to-market initiatives have boosted its ratings in the to 4.8 out of 5 – indicating its mobile application is well received in the market. Personally, I can”t wait for the iPhone version to come out (just a couple of weeks!) to see how growth accelerates.

Mozzo Analytics just released MozzoMail, a significant enhancement over MozzoLinks. MozzoMail organizes attachments and links, and in my opinion, is an incredibly cool productivity app already. The Mozzo team is evolving it so rapidly, I”m pretty sure it will be insanely great before the summer”s over.

Many of the teams have two-sided growth models. These companies have to growth-hack each of their respective funnels. For example, PadProof needs both photographers and consumers. They rapidly signed over 500 new photographers and learned that they needed to make uploading the photographer”s profiles and events easier to enable rapid revenue growth. BitePal needs both restaurants and eaters so they are building a simple merchant portal to automate restaurant on-boarding and deal maintenance. StreamSpec, who achieved revenue in Week 5, needs both advertisers and web-publishers. They are scaling up their back-end and adding advertising inventory to support rapid growth.

Some teams have two-sided growth funnels that can be grown by concentrating solely on one side. For example,  RevoPT needs both trainers/therapists and clients/patients, but can rely upon the trainers/therapists to invite their clients to download the app. They are putting up some amazing early sales statistics (e.g. a 25% response rate and a 75% close rate). Likewise, Canvita needs both employers/recruiters and employees/job-seekers, but to a certain extent, if they get one, they can rely upon getting the other. Tivity used to have a two-sided growth model, but because of a recent pivot, has simplified both it”s value proposition and funnel. Now they just need to sign up athletes, and they have a plan to do so rapidly.

All assumptions will be tested by trying, failing (or succeeding sub-optimally) and trying again. By August 16, Demo Day, each of these teams will have done enough customer development through iteration after iteration that they will be both very tired, and ready for angel or venture investment.

Week 5 mentor meetings at StartFast included Amy Johnson, Owner of Capstone, Inc.,  Jonathan Matus, head of hacker development for Facebook Mobile, and Jeffrey Rubin, CEO of SIDEARM Sports. We”re grateful to these and our other mentors for keeping in touch with and guiding the teams.