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The startup world is not solely the realm of men. Firms owned by women currently account for almost 30% of all new businesses and have grown at 1.5 times the rate of other small enterprises over the last 15 years. Let’s take a look at 10 women behind tech, science or engineering startups. (1)
Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen
The startup: Maykah Inc.
Founded in: 2012
Notable for: Roominate, a line of toys allowing girls to design, build and electrify their own dollhouses.
How they got started: Alice asked her dad for a Barbie for Christmas and he gave her a mini saw, so she made her own dolls. Bettina grew up constructing elaborate Lego creations with her older brother. The two women met while studying engineering at Stanford. (2-5)
Original goal of Kickstarter project to fund Roominate
Total funds raised on Kickstarter
Number of backers on Kickstarter
The startup: Adafruit
Founded in: 2005
Notable for: Selling DIY electronics, tools and kits for makers of all ages
How she got started: As a graduate student in electrical engineering at MIT, Limor would experiment in the student labs at night, creating products she’d eventually sell through Adafruit, such as the Minty MP3 player, which fits inside an Altoids tin. (6-7)
Ranking on Inc. 5000’s list of fastest-growing private manufacturing companies
3-year growth (2010-2013)
The startup: Brit & Co.
Founded in: 2011
Notable for: E-commerce platform and online media hub connects DIY enthusiasts with tutorials and inspiration as well as the tools and supplies to complete them
How she got started: After she graduated from college, Brit worked at Apple, learned how to code, worked at Google and then left to form her own tech startup – after taking a six-month break. During those six months, Brit was inspired to create Brit & Co. (8-9)
Amount raised in seed funding from investors such as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer
More than 5 million
Visitors to the company’s website, brit.co, every month
Miki Agrawal, Radha Agrawal and Antonia Dunbar
The startup: Thinx
Founded in: 2013
Notable for: High-tech women’s underwear line aimed at preventing leaks through a “quad-dry, BreatheTECH” support matrix that cuts down on the need for disposable tampons and pantyliners. The company also partners with AFRIpads to give a week’s worth of washable, reusable pads to girls in Africa for each pair of Thinx sold.
How they got started: Twin sisters Miki and Radha were talking to their friend Antonia about mishaps and frustrations with underwear options during that time of the month, and they learned that girls in developing countries often have to miss school due to lack of access to pads. The three women decided to kill two birds with one stone by inventing Thinx. (5, 8, 10)
Funds pledged on Kickstarter for Thinx
Number of backers on Kickstarter
The startup: Evite.com
Founded in: 1997
Notable for: Digital invitation and social planning service with 17 years of history.
How she got started: Selina and a friend, Al Lieb, came up with the concept of Evite while she was studying computer science as an undergraduate at Stanford. After graduating, she kept working on her project and eventually made it big when it was sold to Ticketmaster in 2001. Selina is now the chief technology officer of SurveyMonkey. (11-13)
Number of registered users at Evite
Invitations sent every year by Evite users
The startup: Lumo BodyTech
Founded in: 2012
Notable for: Lumo Lift and Lumo Back, wearable gadgets that vibrate when its wearer slouches in order to improve posture. Both devices also track calories, steps and distance.
How she got started: A lifelong athlete with an interest in health, Monisha co-founded the company with Dr. Charles Wang and Andrew Chang. The three discovered how important posture is to reducing back pain when Andrew attended posture classes, and they decided to launch Lumo Back through a Kickstarter project. (5, 14-16)
Total amount raised for Lumo Back on Kickstarter
Total amount raised for Lumo Lift through another crowdfunding campaign
Pre-orders for Lumo Lift
The startup: Pathbrite
Founded in: 2008
Notable for: Cloud-based Portfolio Learning Program, a digital portfolio service for ed-tech that helps track, manage and assess students’ achievements and makes course planning easier
How she got started: With a colleague, Heather originally co-founded a secure document sharing site for families, but saw that educators were using it more and more as an alternative way to share classroom-based media with students and parents. She decided to go it alone and pivot the company, turning it into Pathbrite in 2012. (11,
Funding received in four rounds from four investors
More than 500
Number of schools using Pathbrite’s technology
In 1996, an email company named Hotmail launched with a small group of users. By the end of 1997, that company had 12 million users.
How did they grow so dramatically in just year and a half? Well, they looked at their initial numbers and saw that approximately 80 percent of new users came by referral from current users. To make the most of referrals, Hotmail created their iconic email postscript: “PS. I love you. Get your free email at Hotmail.”
That single line, added at the end of every email sent through Hotmail, drove millions of new users in an ever-widening ripple effect. Hotmail successfully created one of the first documented growth hacks.
Growth hacking is the combination of product design, marketing, and data with the overall goal of driving customer growth. Initially popular among fast-growing startups, the principles of growth hacking have since spread to the wider business world. With a focus on understanding the customer and designing the right product, successful growth hacking drives growth in both the short- and long-term.
So how can you apply a growth hack like Hotmail’s to build your own business?
Let’s explore nine innovative and data-driven growth hacks that you can adapt to your own situation.
1. The Webinar Hack
When you’re trying to find potential customers, you don’t just want to reach a massive number of people. In fact, you might not need to reach very many people at all. You just need to find the right people.
Unbounce uses a variety of content marketing technique to reach customers. They write a popular blog, produce quality ebooks, and even offer a free email course. But when they started focusing on webinars those quickly became their number one acquisition strategy.
Because webinars offer an urgent incentive (“join before it fills up!”), you can drive significant interest. Once in the webinar, you get the opportunity to provide high-value teaching, which improves the perception of your company.
And at the end of the webinar you get a few minutes to explain your product.
Here’s how to run a successful webinar with very little work:
1. Pick a topic or get a guest speaker.
2. Create the webinar on GoToWebinar.
3. Make your landing page where people can join.
4. Do a dry run to make sure everything works.
5. Host the event and provide epic value.
6. Follow up with an email and encourage people to become customers.
Then assess how the webinar went, make a few changes to your strategy, and do it again.
2. The Giveaway Hack
AppSumo, a daily deals website focused on digital goods, has been extremely successful at running giveaways to increase their email subscription list. In just 10 months, by 147,973 new subscribers. Since each subscriber resulted in an average of $0.83 gross revenue, that’s a pretty significant marketing campaign.
So how’d he do it? Simple: He ran a steady stream of targeted giveaways.
He gave away Evernote subscriptions, in-person courses, and even MacBook Airs (the MacBooks performed worst!). Some giveaways drove a few subscribers and some drove thousands, but giveaway by giveaway the email list (and bank account) grew steadily.
So how can you run your own giveaway?
1. Find a specific product that only your target customers would like (broadly popular products attract generic leads).
3. Promote your giveaway with Facebook ads and your current email list.
4. Encourage social media shares for your giveaway participants.
5. Send a drip campaign to your new leads to convert them to customers.
If you choose the right product and audience, the money you spend on Facebook should start a chain reaction as current participants share your giveaway with their friends.
3. The Guest Post Hack
When Charlie Hoehn wanted to drive sales for his first published book, he turned to guest posting to reach potential readers. During the first month after publication, Charlie published nearly 20 guest posts and also made guest appearances on a couple of podcasts.
The result? He reached nearly a quarter of a million people and sold 2,000 copies. His self-published book landed on the top of its Amazon category.
Guest posts are powerful tool that can drive highly targeted visitors to your website. So how can you do the same thing for your site?
Here’s how you can create guest posts to drive customers to your own website:
1. Find popular blogs with audiences that match your target customer profile.
2. Write value-packed guest posts targeting particular blogs.
3. Email the blog author with your proposed guest post.
4. Continue emailing until you find a blog that’s interested in publishing.
5. Repeat … and make your posts better each time.
To make your guest posts even more successful, put together a custom pack of bonus materials for readers who join your email list. You can use extra information like PDF checklists, case studies, and exclusive videos to convert more leads from each guest post you publish.
4. The Two-Sided Incentive Hack
Since 2009, the car service Uber has raised millions of dollars and is currently valued at $18 billion. It’s now available all over the world and are even planning to break into the lucrative mainland China market in the near future.
To spur word of mouth even further, Uber uses a two-sided referral program. All current customers are automatically enrolled and given their own referral codes. When they give those codes to their friends, both the referrers and the customers they refer get a nice credit to their Uber account.
This gives the new customer a chance to try the service for little or no cost, and it gives the referring customer a friendly “thanks” for sharing.
To create your own double-sided incentive:
1. Make sure your product is worth sharing.
2. Find something current customers will value. Free credit is an obvious win, but swag or VIP status might be good too.
3. Find something that will hook new customers. Free trials or credits will let them try your product without any risk.
4. Promote it to all your current users through email and in-product messaging.
If done right, two-sided incentives can drive significant word of mouth, increasing the impact of all your other marketing endeavors.
5. Exit Popup Hack
WPBeginner, a free resource site for WordPress beginners, grew their email subscription list by using an exit popup display. In less than 10 minutes, WPBeginnerincreased their email subscribers by 600 percent. Prior to the change, they gained 70 to 80 new subscribers each day, and after the change they gained 445 to 470 every day.
How did they drive such a significant improvement? Using a simple popover with exit intent tracking. When a visitor arrives at their website, WPBeginner starts tracking their mouse movements. If the visitor’s mouse starts moving to close the window, a non-intrusive popover invites the visitor to subscribe for more articles.
By giving the visitor time to read before offering the upsell (i.e., the subscribe box), exit popups reach potential users at a time when intent is high, thus boosting conversions. Additionally, these popovers are non-intrusive, so the user can easily close the tab without any of the annoyances of a traditional popup.
To create an exit popover of your own…
2. Add copy for a simple subscribe box.
Bonus: Create a special ebook or email course as an incentive.
Popovers always drive significant email signups since they’re more noticeable, but popovers with exit intent take it to the next level.
6. Retargeting Hack
Nitro, a commercial software development company, runs their business with a freemium business model and they receive a lot of trial users who never convert to a paid plan. To combat this conversion issue, they experimented quite successfully with retargeting ads. Using IP addresses, retargeting ads show specifically to people who joined Nitro’s trial but haven’t yet converted to a paid plan.
After launching these retargeting ads, Nitro has seen an 18 percent increase in online sales. Even better, they’ve seen a 3.9 times return-on-investment (ROI), which means that for every dollar spent on retargeting ads, Nitro has made $3.90.
The technical side of retargeting ads based on IP addresses sounds super complicated, but happily setting up your own retargeting campaign is actually really easy.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Join a retargeting service like Adroll (my favorite).
2. Add their code snippet to your website (just like Google Analytics tracking).
3. Select an audience to retarget (people who visited your website, trialers, etc).
4. Create an advertisement image (I used Paint.NET).
5. Start your campaign.
6. Test different campaigns to optimize ROI.
Like any other advertising platform, retargeting experts can help with all sorts of detailed optimization, but you can still achieve amazing results in just a couple hours of setup. If I did no other paid advertising, retargeting ads are the first place I would spend my money.
7. Drip Campaign Onboarding Hack
Too many marketers think their work ends once a customer signs up. On the contrary, joining your product is just the first step—acquisition. Now you need to help them activate by helping your users form a habit.
This process of onboarding can be dramatically improved with an automated drip campaign. Based on your knowledge of common questions, you can design a drip campaign with something like Intercom that sends a series of “power user” tips.
How effective are onboarding drip campaigns? Editing software Draft used this onboarding hack to improve the conversion from freemium to paid. With just one automated message, they boosted revenue by 200 percent.
Here’s how you can create your own automated drip campaign:
2. Integrate the code snippet on your website.
3. Create a series of 4 to 10 messages over a user’s first few weeks.
4. Watch for common questions and add them to the drip campaign.
Optimally, your onboarding campaign will answer common user questions and help users for habits around your product.
8. Invite-Only Hack
How did SpringSled drive 150,000 beta users in four weeks? Long before their product was finished, SpringSled opened their registration for beta users. Each early access signup to SpringSled gets the opportunity to land 12 months of free project management by getting five friends to join the beta version.
After briefly driving some traffic by getting on ProductHunt and BetaList, the customers started pouring in through viral spreading. The “12 months of free project management” prize has worked quite effectively, and 99.8 percent of those first 150,000 signups came from referrals.
How can you design your own early invite hack?
2. Setup an email drip campaign encouraging referrals.
3. Drive some initial traffic (ProductHunt, BetaList, Reddit, StumbleUpon, etc).
Bonus: Add a launch video
While many of the early invite users you drive will probably be low-quality leads, getting this level of interest before you even launch will definitely give you a solid base of initial customers from which to build.
9. The Live Survey Hack
Every customer is different. They have different problems, different experiences, and different interests. They all come to your product for their own unique reasons.
And yet, the traditional landing page gives each of them the same static page. A/B testing lets you improve this page to help the most people possible, but everyone sees the same static page.
What if you could give different information for different customers? Using a live survey tool, you actually can do just that!
GoodBlogs wanted to increase the number of writers for one of its sites, The Flaming Vegan. To do this, they created a Qualaroo survey that asks new visitors if they’re vegetarian or vegan. If you answer “yes”, they ask if you’re interested in writing for the website. (If you answer “no”, the offer a discount on a blender.)
By implementing that live survey, GoodBlogs has increased new writer registrations by fully 300 percent.
Here’s how you can create a live survey:
1. Create 2 to 4 customer profiles (based on the people who come to your website).
2. Write 1 to 2 questions that filter these people.
3. Design a killer offer for each group.
4. Put this all together in a Qualaroo survey on your website.
Each customer is different so giving them custom offers based on their interests will help you dramatically improve conversion rates.
The #1 Thing To Remember
All these hacks are powerful and can help you improve conversions, but growth hacking is actually much simpler. Tactics help, but the best products win by making customers happy. If you can make your users happier than a bull in a china shop, you will see sustainable growth.
Focus on building a product that hooks users and then use marketing to grow even faster.
Het recept voor een succesvol Startup Weekend: Veel plezier en… rust. Het is natuurlijk verleidelijk om de hele nacht door te gaan met het uitwerken van een idee als je eenmaal in de flow zit, maar of dat werkelijk zo effectief is?
Hieronder een infographic met rechts de gevolgen van slechts één nacht zonder slaap. Welk item telt voor jou het meest?
Tijd voor een middagdutje!
Mocht je toch even doorgehaald hebben, wees dan niet bang om ‘s middags even een kleine siësta te houden. Ideaal of max 20 minuten om een ochtendhumeur te vermijden, of juist anderhalf uur voor maximaal effect, volgens de experts.
Written by Ivan Serrano, Tech Writer and Photographer, San Francisco
It wasn’t too long ago when people depended solely on landlines and snail mail to communicate. However, over the last decade smartphones have drastically changed the way people communicate and make purchases.
According to the infographic below, the number of smartphones will soon outnumber people. In fact, by 2015 more than half of the world’s mobile phone users will own a smartphone. As you can tell, smartphones are quickly taking over as the most popular tool for communication.
Not only have smartphones made it easier to communicate, but people are now using them to locate retail locations and perform their banking. Let’s take a closer look at how the smartphone revolution has impacted consumers and businesses.
Who uses smartphones?
There’s no doubt that Millennials and Generation X are the most avid smartphone users. According to the infographic, 81 percent 18 to 29 years old are likely to own a smartphone and 68 percent of 30 to 40 year olds are likely to own a smartphone.
How are smartphones used?
People use smartphones for a variety of reasons. More than 60 percent of smartphone users have downloaded an app and 50 percent have used their smartphone to find a retail location. Clearly, this presents a number of marketing opportunities for businesses looking to expand their mobile strategies.
Why should businesses care?
Businesses need to be aware of the smartphone revolution because it’s changing the way people discover brands. In fact, 75 percent of mobile device users are more likely to take action after seeing a location-specific advertising message. Not only that, but last year nearly a third of companies also implemented location-based marketing.
If you’re thinking about updating your current marketing strategy, it’d be a good idea to consider these smartphone trends. To learn how your business can adapt to the smartphone revolution, check out the infographic below:
Many successful businesses started with just one person who had a vision and the technical skills to deliver it to the world. Popular new sites like Techmeme, Newsblur, Instapaper and Duckduckgo started out this way which makes the costs of operating much more bearable in the beginning.
Even some of the largest companies in the world like eBay and Amazon began with one tech-savvy founder. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was a computer engineer who decided to leave Wall Street to start an online book store out of his garage. Amazon is now the largest online retailer in the world with a revenue of $74.45 billion in 2013.
This post is written by tech writer and photographer, Ivan Serrano.
Congratulations, your business has grown and you are nowhere near stopping. You’ve blossomed from that tiny startup in your parents’ basement, moved beyond passing out cheap brochures advertising your company to neighbors, and survived the full throttle that “startup” mode has to offer. No, you’ve hit the big leagues, and your company has gone global.
The work is far from done. Keeping customers pleased, happy and reliable takes more than just a few successful business negotiations. Keeping customers requires a deeper respect for them, their culture, their country, their politics… The list can go on for a long time.
Although English may be the universal language, America is not at the center of the world. For budding entrepreneurs, learning the culture of the country you’re about to do business with is fundamental not only to getting them as a client, but even more so to keeping a longstanding and meaningful relationship with them. Here are helpful tips to keep in mind when doing business overseas.
Welcome to the 21st century!
We are no longer monogamous to one piece of technology. Television watching is subsidized by a cellphone on the lap, or a tablet on the table for when the long commercial breaks hit. Device usage amongst current users has rarely been exclusive to one gadget. According to recent studies, a typical multi-screen user consumes at least 7 hours of screen media a day, especially when a lot of business is now done on the Cloud, instead of face-to-face.
And the trend is global. Turns out, more countries than you’d think are turning to multiple devices of technology for entertainment.
As the trend of multi-screening continues to increase in popularity, the demand for interactive devices – that is, devices that can improve a consumer’s experience without becoming a distraction – also remains high.
Multi-screening means multi-tasking. And in today’s startup world, this can mean a lot. When you’re trying to expand your business from local or national to even global, you’ll have to figure out how to enhance your viewer’s experience while keeping in mind they are engaged in other sorts of media.
Find ways to teach your clients how to multi-task with multiple screens, instead of using one screen as a distraction from the last.
An awful lot of successful technology companies ended up being in a slightly different market than they started out in. —Marc Andreessen, serial entrepreneur
The above quote reflects a theme that emerged through the research project we just completed at Verge®. We sorted through more than 900,000 companies that could have been considered a startup at one point in time to create a list of The Top 20 Startups of All Time. There are a few possible surprises on the list, and a couple you may not even recognize. But if you know your startup history, you’ll pick up on something that all of these companies execute very well—The Pivot.
As you look through the data in the infographic below, pay attention to what each startup originally become famous for and then think about what they’re doing now. Amazon is beyond being an online bookstore and Apple much more complex than a home computer company. It’s something you see in businesses across the spectrum, from venture-backed startups to startups launching at a Startup Weekend.
Which startups below do you think pulled off The Pivot the best? What startups not named on this list have pivoted better than others?