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[INFOGRAPHIC] How Mobile Marketing Can Help Your Startup Growth

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Mobile Marketing - MyStartupLand

Mobile marketing is a multi-channel online marketing technique by which businesses can reach users on their mobile devices. It is different from other marketing strategies as it allows companies to reach customers on-the-go. Mobile marketing also provides customers with a more personalized experience.

There are different ways through which marketers and brands use mobile marketing to grow their business.

Text Messages

Short message service (SMS) is a core aspect of mobile marketing and many businesses have embraced professional texting. Marketers have fully adopted the use of SMS for reaching the customers, particularly when they want to send sensitive information and data.

With more than 75% of the smartphones in use globally being SMS enabled, the use of text messages for marketing purposes has proven effective. Customers are able to opt for product information and notifications and receive action based rewards (such as purchase discounts). An added benefit of text messages is that they have a much higher and faster open rate than emails.

SMS-Marketing-vs-Email - MyStartupLand
Image provided by TxtSignal

 

Mobile Friendly Websites

Almost every business nowadays has a website. Not all websites, however, are mobile friendly. Businesses that do not have an excellent mobile device response and adaptability experience lose out on more than 50% of customers. Brands enhance mobile marketing efforts by ensuring an optimized version of their website for various devices.

Mobile Apps

Another strategy that brands employ for their mobile marketing campaigns is the development and use of mobile applications. Considering that more than 80% of smartphone users access mobile apps on a daily basis, marketing through apps is an effective way of reaching customers.

Studies show that mobile users browse three times more products in apps than on mobile websites. Users feel more at ease using mobile apps than websites, due to the experience. Besides the benefits of mobile apps, they have become less expensive to develop than they used to be, meaning more businesses can now afford to create their own customized app.

Mobile Payments

Many brands integrated mobile payment platforms into their marketing platforms to encourage ease of transactions. Businesses use payment processors that offer great service, security, cost efficiency, and ease of use. Customers, therefore, find it easier to make payments using modern payment options.

Active Social Presence

Brands are using social networks to gain new customers and attract visitors to their products and services. They do this by initiating conversations, sharing posts, asking questions, and posting comments. These foster interactions with an audience on relevant topics, making sure the brand is seen and known by the social media users.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are common examples of platforms that brands use to promote their marketing and grow business.

Offering Deals

Businesses take advantage of mobile technology by sending out digital deals to customers directly through smartphones. For example, brands send SMS coupons that are 10 times more redeemed than the printed ones and are far less likely to be lost or misplaced.

Customer Service On Mobile Devices

Companies also offer customer service through mobile devices. Brands can take customers’ payments, track their orders, share shipping information, and provide prompt responses to their inquiries.

These services are easy and convenient for the customers and the business owners. Besides, the quick response time that mobile customer services offer makes customers very pleased with the brands that employ it in their marketing solutions.

Here below an infographic to show the advantages of implementing mobile marketing for startup growth.

Mobile Marketing Startup Growth - MyStartupLand

[INFOGRAPHIC] 127 Interesting Facts About Video Marketing

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Video Marketing - MyStartupLand

Video marketing is one of the most commonly used techniques for promoting brands. Companies like Newegg or Amazon use different types of video content to engage with users. Explainer videos, “how-to” videos, training videos, and the latest trend, live videos have had an incredible impact on users experience.

Interesting Facts About Video Marketing

On social media, in particular, video content has been used widely. 72% of social marketers are interested in learning video marketing since videos in social media marketing increase sharing by 10 times.

  • Facebook – On a daily basis, users watch 100 million hours of videos.
  • Twitter – Video tweets increased by over 50% in 2016, and are 6x more retweeted than photos.
  • Instagram – Posts with video content almost doubled in 2015, and in the same year 58% of the ads were videos.
  • Snapchat – Users watch 10 billion videos on a daily basis.
  • Pinterest – Video posts increased by 50% in 2015-2016.

There is certainly a great interest in video and brands are not missing out. The following brands are among the biggest ones who are using video marketing.

  • Amazon spends $3 billion on video content.
  • Gillette with 106K subscribers generated an amazing 7.7 million views on one “how to” video.
  • Chevrolet with 164 million views is the most watched auto brand online.
  • Louis Vuitton with 196K subscribers has almost 200 million views on YouTube.
  • Coca-Cola with almost 3 million subscribers has 1.3 billion views on YouTube.

Video marketing can have a major impact when the brand is well-known worldwide. However, freelancers and startups as well can benefit from video content to engage their users in a new and different way with their products or services.

Video content together with video marketing is taking over the way users experience the Internet. The following infographic made by the guys at Website Builder contains more 127 interesting facts about video marketing. Take a look at it to find out more.

 

Video Marketing - MyStartupLand

[INFOGRAPHIC] An Introduction To Social Media Customer Care

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Previously, there were three main types of customer care that customers could use if they were not physically in a store. These methods were by post, email, or telephone.

As technology develops, people are now expecting brands to provide them with a lot more than this when it comes to customer care. The majority of the time they expect a response almost instantly.

The Evolution Of Customer Care With Social Media

In response to this, companies have introduced a couple of new ways to get in touch with them. Live chat is proving to be very popular but equally is social media customer care. After building your website, you can use live chat on your domain, or through social media channels such as Facebook. Alternatively, you are able to directly message brands or comment on their posts.

This provides a much more instantaneous response. It could also be the difference between making a sale or the customer going elsewhere. For example, if a customer is having trouble at the checkout, unless she can get a response immediately, she is likely to leave.

The great thing about using social media is that it doesn’t have to be initiated by the customer. Brands can reach out to the customer if they are a talking about the brand or their products.

 

Social Media Customer Care - MyStartupLand

There are tools (like Mention) that businesses are able to utilise to help them find anyone who is talking about them. In this way, they don’t miss out on any opportunities for interaction and relationship building. If you are new to the social media customer care scene, as many brands currently are, it is worth conducting a little research so that you are providing the very best service that you can.

 

7 Offline Promotion Strategies to Boost Your Online Brand

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Offline Promotion Strategies - MyStartupLand

One of the most common mistakes that online businesses make is focusing solely on digital marketing. In reality, the best way to build a strong brand is to use both online and offline marketing strategies. Targeting both mediums allow you to extend your reach, get in front of new audiences, and increase the effectiveness of your existing digital marketing campaigns. Here are seven of the best offline marketing strategies that you can use to strengthen your brand.

1. Direct Mail

Yes, you heard it right. Direct mail can be one of the more common go-to offline marketing strategies for online businesses. The reason why is because the channel works similarly to email marketing where the goal is to get your email read and elicit the reader to take some kind of action. For some reason, many business owners think that direct mail is too expensive and not as effective as online marketing. That is far from the truth. A DMA study showed that direct mail outperformed email by a factor of 36. It’s just a matter of learning how to make this channel work.

2. Offline Joint Ventures

If you’re working with a limited budget, one of the best offline marketing strategies you can utilize is joint ventures. Come up with a win-win scenario where you can partner up with related small businesses. In many cases, it will cost you next to nothing to execute. It’s just a matter of being creative and making sure there’s a big benefit to your partner partaking in the deal. Even if the business owner decides not to take you up on the deal, you can follow up and ask if you can advertise your business to their customers.

3. Sidewalk Signs and Banners

While it seems like the most basic way to market your brand offline, you should still be using advertising signs. There are many different ways to grab the attention of people in local areas from signs, printed banners, to sidewalk signs. And don’t worry if you don’t have a storefront. You can use these signs and banners to present a QR code to people passing by. Once they scan your code, they can be redirected to your website, blog, social media page, etc. As a matter of fact, Juniper Research projected QR code coupons redeemed by mobile devices will quadruple in the next 5 years.

4. Print Advertising

While many online business owners think otherwise, offline advertising is still a viable way to generate leads and customers. There are numerous ways to get your message out there from magazine ad placements, newspaper ads, to classified ads. Many of the direct response strategies apply to making these ads work. The great thing about print advertising campaigns is that you can really start scaling your campaign quickly once you find a winning a formula. This will quickly open you up to a large audience that otherwise would not have found you online.

5. Trade Shows

Trade shows are one of the best ways to acquire leads, customers, and business partners. Some of the biggest industry brands and buyers show up for the biggest trade shows. This will really build your brand presence if you manage to set up a successful booth. Trade shows can be quite expensive, so it’s essential that you have a clear strategy for your booth as well as how you intend to generate a positive ROI from your efforts.

6. Press Opportunities

One of the most underutilized offline promotion strategies is press. Getting your story or idea featured in TV shows, radio spots, magazine stories, and offline events can build your brand equity in a way that no other strategy can. A perfect example is when the company FourSquare set up an actual kid’s game of four square at an SXSW convention. This drew thousands of people to their staff and leads to a large number of installs for their app.

7. Phone and Mobile Marketing Campaigns

A relatively new offline marketing channel that online businesses need to use more is mobile marketing. Mobile marketing is a mix of both online and offline strategies. It utilizes everything from text messages, smartphone apps, and push notifications. A great way to use mobile marketing is to capture the phone numbers of your leads and customers online. You can follow up later with voicemail drops, text message marketing.

 

These are just a few of the many offline promotion strategies you can use to boost your online brand. The idea here is to use online and offline strategies together in a synergistic manner. You’ll find that they complement each other very well and will make campaigns in both mediums more effective together than alone.

 

Related Article: 5 Offline Marketing Mistakes Your Business Could Be Making

How To Get Your First Paying Client As A Freelancer

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how to get your first paying client - MyStartupLand

You have been thinking about it for a while now. Getting on a freelancing gig and following your passion. Be it photography, content writing, web development or anything else. There’s only one problem, you don’t know where to start and how to get your first paying client.

It’s great that you have been thinking about getting out there and follow your dream. However, you have never sold yourself, nevertheless your passion. On top of that, you kind of hate salespeople. So, how do you get started?

The first thing you need to understand, before jumping into this, is that you cannot avoid sales (nor marketing for that matter).

Yes, take a deep breath. Inhale slowly and while you exhale repeat with me… “I can’t avoid sales“.

Now, you don’t have to like it. You don’t have to become a salesperson. However, you need to realize that to get freelancing gigs, you will need to

a) present yourself properly

b) sell your services to get clients

Here, I will focus on 6 activities you need to start doing to get your first paying client.

#1. Nail a Niche

First of all, niche doesn’t mean small. If you want to start somewhere, you need to start to identify a niche within your specialty.

Let’s say you are a photographer, ask yourself what do I like to take pictures of? Is it people, landscape, food, weddings? Or, let’s say you are a translator. What do you like to translate? Is it comics, fantasy, adventure, or perhaps technical documents?

Think very well about what you like, but also what you are good at. Identify a niche that you want to nail and then become a specialist in it. Aim at becoming the go-to guy/girl for it.

Remember, if you nail a niche, you are not thinking small, you are not reducing your opportunity. You are focusing. At this stage, and until you don’t nail that specific niche, being focused is going to be key to your success.

#2. Identify Your Ideal Target

After you have understood what niche you want to focus on, you need to move to the audience you want to address. There are few questions you want to ask yourself:

  • Who are the people you want to talk to?
  • Where do they hang out?
  • How can you reach them (phone, email, advertising, meetups…)?
  • What problem do they have and how you can help them solve it?

This step might seem a little bit abstract, and perhaps non-sense. After all, you are thinking: “why do I need to limit myself to a specific type of client? If I find someone who wants to buy my service I will just go for it.

Although it might seem logical to think that way, it is crucial to understand that focus is the key, especially at the beginning. Identifying your ideal target is directly linked to nailing a niche.

Spread and pray doesn’t work in sales. Having a focused and organized approach will get you results instead.

#3. Create A Portfolio

Before “going to market”, you need to create a portfolio. There’s a way for you to have an “MVP” or minimum viable product before you approach your potential clients, even if you haven’t had one yet.

For example, let’s assume you are a translator and you decided that your niche is comics. The first thing to do is to get down on it and translate a couple of your preferred comics in your spare time. Once you have done that, put them on documents that you can share with potential prospects.

Another example, you are a photographer and you want to specialize in food pictures. Considering the high competition you might find on Instagram, I would suggest you take a more creative approach rather than just plain simple food pictures. For instance, think about the composition of the picture, get creative and go beyond the basic idea of food pictures.

One last example, you want to get into content creation. Let’s say your niche is leadership and management, there are several ways you can create your own portfolio. One is to simply write two or three articles and reach out to few blogs out there and get it published. There are literally thousands of small/medium blogs that accept guest posting (we also accept external contributions). Another way, perhaps a bit more complicated for the less tech-savvy, is to create a website and publish your content there. Your website will become your portfolio.

 

These are the first steps to get you started, without these 3 points, you cannot move forward. What comes next is key for you to get your first paying client as a freelancer.

#4 Talk With Friends & Family

Start spreading the word within your network that you are going to make the jump. Start with the people you trust and know best. There might be a chance they would appreciate your services. The important thing here is that you don’t sell to them yet.

Remember these are your friends, you don’t want to bother them. You want to focus on good potential clients. Try to find the right way to talk about your passion and explore, rather than sell.

If you land one gig with your friends and family, don’t consider that a sale, even if they pay you. Consider this an unofficial client. It will be up to you if you want to charge them for your service. If you decide not to, make sure you get a reference. A written testimonial will get you a long way at the beginning of your freelancing career. This is even more relevant if you are on some freelancing websites. Ask your friends and family to book a gig through the website and leave a reference. Start establishing your brand.

I wouldn’t generally suggest giving your service away for free. At the end of the day, you are doing a job and you want to make sure that people understand that, even if they are your friends or family. Perhaps, you can charge them a “friend price” or just give them one session for free, if your service is based on multiple interactions.

#5 Get Referrals

After you have spread the word within your network and found your first unofficial client, ask for clients referrals. If they are happy, they will gladly refer you to some other people they know. In case they are not fully satisfied, ask them for feedback.

A key thing to keep in mind when selling your services is always about asking.

Ask for referrals.

Ask for a sale.

No one will give you the answer you want if you don’t ask the right question.

Referrals are the best way to get your first paying client. They come in with a positive image of you and your services, so usually, the sales cycle should be very simple and intuitive. Remember though to stick to your niche. This is fundamental for your client portfolio and your focus.

#6 Get Involved In Meetups

In case you can’t access friends and family, meetups are another great sources of contacts. Depending on the city you live in, you can find meetups about everything. Try to combine generic meetups about your passion and, if possible, specific about your niche.

Meetups are the only occasion where you can go broader, rather than focusing on a niche. This is about meeting people, getting out there and start learning what other professionals are doing.

As said above, it’s also a good idea to get into niche meetups about your specialty. You might end up meeting a lot of your “competitors”, but that’s totally fine. Learn from them and ask questions, you might get some interesting ideas as well as potential collaborations. From collaborations, you can get your first paying client as well.

Final Thoughts On How To Get Your First Paying Client In

Getting started is usually the most complicated thing. Once you get the ball rolling, you will see how things will fall into place and the process will become smoother. There are few things to keep in mind when (thinking of) starting:

  • Give yourself time
  • Don’t give up too easily or at the first problem
  • Before you jump, make sure you have a monetary safety net
  • You can start all this while you have a stable job

The key to sales is about being focused and having an organized approach. You don’t need to be a sales guru to get your first paying client. You don’t have to like sales to do all this. You are already doing it when talking about your passion. You just need some structure to it.

The Millennial Management Issue

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Millennial Management Issue - MyStartupLand

Millennials are changing organizational structure around the globe. Many in this generation, that now is the biggest in the U.S., have taken over management roles recently. Their mindset is reshaping some core concepts behind traditional leadership style. Millennials want a different work environment and need to be treated differently from other generations.

Although most managers today are millennials themselves, they are what I would consider “early millennials”. These are in their 30’s and have grown up professionally in the mid of the change. They have a set of values shaped by old generations, but with a considerably different inner feeling.

The Millennial Management Issue

These managers represent the change. They are the one in the front line managing the “real” millennials. They have a tough job ahead of them because they need to act as the middle-man in between generations.

Pulled by the need for a change and on the other side, by a traditional mindset, these managers are struggling to communicate both ways.

The millennial management issue is even more complicated as most of the CEOs and top executives rarely understand them. Low loyalty and high disengagement is a reality. Millennials are not in it for the long-term. Statistics say that the majority of them don’t expect to be in the same job for more than 2 years.

Management Is Failing At Millennials

Although job conditions have never been better than today, millennials are still feeling unsatisfied and leaving their job. However, they are not just “job-hopper”, as many think.

A survey showed that 91% of millennials are looking for a full-time stable employment. There’s obviously a mismatch between expectations and reality. There’s a lot of confusion and very few are trying to address it by reshaping traditional leadership concepts.

Here are 4 ways to change the current state within your organization:

1. Empowerment For The Learnings

From the day we stepped in an organization, we have been told what to do and how to do it. Managers have been focusing on giving directions and employees on executing. Regardless of the company size, solutions, usually, flow from top to down.

There is little or no time to waste. Decisions need to be taken fast. Actions need to be implemented in the “best possible way”.

Millennial Management Issue - Communication Style - MyStartupLand
Linear Communication Style

This has been the traditional communication style. Liner and one-directed with little or no involvement from the employee side.

Millennials, however, live in a different world, a very far reality. They are aware of the fact that they might not have the tools to deliver the best decisions, but for them, leadership is about empowering others.

Millennials want to be part of the decision-making process. They want to contribute to the growth of the company actively, not just like a wheel in the machine. Millennials value career progression more than anything else. Career advancement is linked to learning and skill improvement, which comes from taking part in the process.

Communication Style - Millennial Management Issue - MyStartupLand
Two-way Communication

A two-way communication style needs to be incorporated into the day-to-day relationship with employees.

Questions such as “How would you go about doing this task?“, “What do you think is the best process to achieve this result?“, are empowering questions that will help managing millennials (and everyone else for that matters).

TIP: Empowering questions are the best for stimulating learning and self-progression. These will keep engagement high and help both sides understand what skills need to be developed.

Remember though that as a manager, your role is also to help out when needed. Keep your ears open and offer help when requested to do so.

2. The Feedback Loop

According to a Gallup’s research, millennials receive way less feedback than what they are expecting. Only 19% of them said that they receive routine feedback.

Not giving feedback is bad for all employees, regardless of the generation they are in. However, for millennials, who value communication and learnings, this becomes a major pain-point.

The same research, however, has also shown that this is not exclusively a management issue. Millennials are also failing at asking feedback. But, is it really so?

Too many times, managers brush off a feedback request with an “everything is going well” response. Feedback on performance must be regular and well-thought. An annual or bi-annual performance review is not enough if there’s no feedback in between. It is important that organizations have a way to control how feedback is provided and implemented.

Millennials want to be heard. They value leaders who seek feedback from employees and implement it. The feedback must be a two-way road. It’s a loop that stimulates growth.

TIP: There’s an old saying that goes “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak“. This should always be true, but even more in management. Speak less, hear more. Let your team members talk about their experiences and feelings and provide valuable feedback when needed.

3. Perks, The Way To Percieved Happiness

It is known that happy employees are more engaged and deliver better results. This is also the key to profitability.

Making employees happy, however, is not as straightforward as it might seem. Most organizations are taking the easy way to reach perceived happiness. As said earlier, job conditions have never been better than today.

Pizza-day, breakfast-day, beer-day, casual-day, massage-day, sport-day, yoga-day, are just a few examples of how employees are spoiled today. No matter in which companies you step in, you will find one of the above at least.

As someone else put it, perks should be divided into “basic shit and fancy shit“. Fancy shit won’t make you happy.

Millennials have started their career when free and fancy perks were a reality. The perception of value is undoubtedly different between generations. However,  66% of millennials are ready to switch job if another company offers better perks. But, is it all about perks?

Millennials are not as superficial as one might think. Yes, perks are attractive, but because the working environment is not. Managing to create a working environment where they feel valued and with possibilities to learn and grow will have far better results than focusing on fancy shit. Obviously, the basic perks, such a decent pay, decent work-life balance, flexibility and so on are still to be considered.

TIP: Perks are the way to perceived happiness. Creating happiness through fancy perks will not lead to higher engagement. Fancy perks will then be regarded as basic ones, and expectations will keep increasing. Link fancy perks to achievements and results. Stimulate growth and accountability.

4. Transparency Creates Awareness

Aside from learning opportunities and growth, millennials value transparency in communication. Changes happen constantly in organizations. Decisions cannot always be taken in groups. However, you can still make them feel part of the decision process by being transparent.

Creating awareness through transparency is key for trust. Regardless of how big your organization is, let millennials be aware of why the company is taking certain steps. If you take the time to explain what’s going on, they will feel part of it.

Sometimes taking these steps can get you in a difficult situation, but as a manager, you need to take the responsibility.

Let’s say your organization is going through rough times for whatever reason, how are you going to address this with your team? You need to be open and honest in sharing the situation and also ready to take in harsh feedback.

Do this by:

  1. Creating a safe environment where feedback is welcome
  2. Acknowledging the facts without softening stories
  3. Keeping enquiring about further clarifications
  4. Answering in a positive but realistic way

Remember that as a manager, you still represent the company, so you need to find the right balance.

TIP: Honesty and transparency are highly regarded by millennials. Creating a safe environment where both parties feel comfortable in sharing thoughts and feelings can go a long way for engagement.

The Road To Success

Although managing millennials can be challenging for everyone, these are the employees that will give you the greatest feeling of achievement.

I believe that implementing the 4 above-mentioned points can be beneficial to anyone, regardless of the generation they are in. The real difference between millennials and baby-boomers, for example, is that today job is not equal to life. Job satisfaction is regarded differently because of the economic situation we are in. However, being respectful, listening more, giving feedback and growth opportunities are beneficial for everyone, not only millennials. We are all just realizing this now because millennials are not afraid to speak up.

One important last point is that not all millennials are created equally. Generalizations have always limitations and it’s up to managers to understand the person in front of them and make a decision about it. You can’t save everyone, but you should save the ones who deserve it.

 

How are you currently managing your team? Do you think is there anything else outside of these points that should be taken into consideration? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Founders Interview: Sankarsh Chanda – Savart Founder

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Savart - MyStartupLand

Sankarsh Chanda is a young but hungry and motivated startup founder from India. He is a certified research analyst and started getting into equity investments at a very early stage, 14. At the time, he developed a strong interest in equity markets. This led him to develop investment strategies from UK, US, Denmark, and India.

Sankarsh’s interest for investment, however, did not stop there. He also wrote a book, Financial Nirvana. This is an investment guide for beginners, combining old-school values and modern-day planning.

His passion for the topic took him in 2017 to found Savart, a wealth management app for everyone. Currently, it manages about 80 Million INR (around $1M) in AUM.

In this exclusive interview with MyStartupLand, we walk through his experience as a startup founder, as well as understanding some key learnings for himself as well as other fellow entrepreneurs around the globe.

1.    Sankarsh, thanks for having this interview. For all startup founders reading your story and practicing their elevator pitch, can you summarise in less than 30 seconds what Savart is? 

Savart is an online-offline wealth manager that helps people make smart investment decisions whether they are investing $1 or a million dollars.

2.    How did you come up with the idea for Savart?

I was working on several freelancing websites building amateur investment strategies for people around the world. The opportunity to study different markets got me excited.

This interest slowly made me think more seriously about actually doing the same for the masses. A lot of friends and family were actually asking me about investment ideas or investable companies. I had no clue on whether to guide them or not, as any loss that would be incurred with my ideas would have made me feel responsible.

This initial thought was strengthened after a customer survey I conducted with over 1000 people throughout the country to understand people’s financial life. As a result, I found out that money was indeed a priority for many. So I felt that our idea to invest and get people wealthier would, in turn, help them focus on their passions and lives, at least to a small extent.

3.     What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

What I just told you about my learnings and experience actually inspired me to become an entrepreneur. It was not something that I had a clear idea about initially. It took me quite some time to understand that turning into an entrepreneur would help me achieve those goals.

4.     Startup founders go through a lot of ups and downs, what keeps you motivated and focused on the target? How do you manage to keep that motivation up within your team? 

The journey has been exciting so far with a lot of ups and downs. On most days, the entire team is very motivated and energetic, but there are days when things don’t happen according to the plan. However, we always have a single thing in mind: customer first. During our meetings, we have an empty chair and assume our customer is there, watching us work. This makes sure that we don’t get distracted or demotivated.

Happy customers and their profits actually keep us motivated.

Other small milestones like feature releases, team members’ induction, and positive customers’ feedback are celebrated to keep the good spirit.

My personal motivation is about getting closer to reach out to the remotest people out there and introducing, explaining, convincing, getting them invested and help them achieve their goals.

5.     Mentors and advisors are important figures, especially for young startup founders. However, finding the right help can be challenging. Can you walk us through how you managed to find the right support? If you could summarize in 3 keywords the key qualities you looked in an advisor or mentor, what would these be? 

I first met my mentor, Mr. Ajay Batra, when I was looking to enroll in an entrepreneur-friendly university. A few meetings later, we understood each other fairly well and my passion was something he connected with, from day one. I can comfortably say that my current work would not have been possible without his guidance and support. I never realized the importance of having a mentor until I had one.

Initially, I had no idea I even needed a mentor, but few things I would look for in a mentor would be:

  • Adding direction and motive to the overall idea
  • Continuous constructive criticism
  • Helping build the right culture for the organization

6.     In light of what you just told us, what’s the best advice so far?

Keep customers’ needs and preferences in mind all the time and give them priority over everything else.

7.     Stress is a natural companion in the journey to success. Can you suggest to other startup founders, who might be going through some rough waters, what’s the best way, in your opinion, to deal with it? 
I often stress out trying to do all things myself. It is important not to micro-manage and trust the team. Trying to do everything by myself can be challenging and also foolish. Hence, building the right team is crucial. The team must be aligned with the vision and mission level with the organization thoroughly for this to happen in the first place.

I think it’s important to note down all activities the founder is involved, as there are thousands of moving parts in a startup. Completing these tasks one by one gives a lot of confidence and helps reduce stress for me.

8.     How did the startup life change you? (compared to the time before your startup journey)
My book reading hours have drastically reduced. I now listen to people more than I speak. I travel much more frequently and get to visit quite a few places.
9.     When running a startup, there are several components that become priorities: product, team, culture, funding, and so on… what’s your top priority when running Savart and why?
Product and culture are my top priorities closely followed by the team. I strongly believe that my mission and a sense of building a positive culture is why I am in the business. While the product is what will keep me in the business. Keeping the team happy and positive is also a top priority.
Savart Founder - MyStartupLand
10.  Did you raise venture capital? If yes, what would you suggest to other startup founders that are getting into VC funding? If not, are you going to look for funding and how would you go about it?
I have not raised VC fundings so far. However, we are looking to raise some soon. I would suggest to founders to look for like-minded investors. These should be creating long-term wealth and be aligned with your vision.
The lesser the investor interfere in areas of founder’s strengths and the more they add value to the founder’s blind-spots, the better the investor is.
11.  How much influence did customers interviews have while building Savart? 
I started as a product guy and all I cared was to build a perfect, unique product that performed well for customers. Eventually, I realized that I had to focus on building a solution that was customer-centric. Adding value to people’s lives became the priority and not just the end result.
This commitment towards customer choices helped us get recognized and awarded by TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur) in New Delhi as one of the leading startups employing design thinking and being customer-centric in India.
12.  How has Savart been perceived by the market so far? How does your current growth look like? 
We are in the initial days of our business. The growth has been fairly good and slowly catching up to our expectations. Most of our customers are extremely satisfied with the special treatment and transparency in our services. We are experiencing referrals from our existing clients, which we believe is a great sign of growth.
13.  What advice would you give to first-time startup founders?
There are few things I would say to first-time startup founders:
  1. Stick to the motivation.
  2. Keep the passion alive and burning.
  3. Money < Mission
  4. Long-term benefits outweigh short-term gratifications – not just with investments but in most things, we do at a startup.
  5. Respect team and customers
14. Savart is based in India, can you share your experience as a startup founder in the country? 
It is exciting to be a part of India’s startup ecosystem. I personally believe the startup space in the country is in its nascent stage but the pace of the growth in terms of awareness and changes in making things easy for businesses is great.
I cannot predict the outcome of this change, but things are definitely looking positive and startups are getting the support they deserve.
15. India startup ecosystem is incredibly active with some massive companies around, as well as innovative startups across the country. How do you see the competitive landscape and what are some key activities that you take as a leader to ensure your market position is protected? 
The Indian startup ecosystem is growing and new companies are coming up by the dozens each month.

The equity investment space is particularly competitive. Given the size of the market, however, and the potential, we would hardly call them competition. Instead, the competition helps spread the costs of educating our customer segments and thus opening avenues for the industry as a whole.

Moreover, Savart’s stock research algorithm, online & offline interface along with its rural networks help it reach out to those customer segments which are off the radar of most of the other players.

 

You can follow their stories on the following Social Media channels:

Facebook

LinkedIn

 

Tools For Startup Founders: Email Hunter

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Email Hunter - MyStartupLand

Summary:

Email Hunter lets you find email addresses of prospects in seconds and allows you to connect with people that matter for your business.

What Is It? 

Email Hunter can be either a Chrome extension or a stand-alone tool. Your sales reps simply need to add a domain name and the tool will get you examples of email address structure. Super add-on: there’s a confidence score.

It has different functionalities:

  • Type Filter – List specific type of results
  • Email Pattern – Understand most used email formats
  • Lead Gen – Save leads your team finds

Is It Free? 

Yes! Up to 100 searches per month. This should be more than enough for your sales team.

SparkLabs & Argon Group Partner Up To Launch First Startup Accelerator Security Token Offering

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sparklabs - mystartupland

SparkLabs, the largest startup accelerator in Asia, operating a global venture capital fund, has partnered with Argon Group, a digital finance advisory firm. The partnership has taken place to launch the first startup accelerator security token.

This token is not a utility token but simply a smart contract. This represents an investor’s equity into its fund vehicle that will have equal holdings in start-up companies that are associated with SparkLabs IoT & Smart City Accelerator in Songdo, South Korea and SparkLabs Cultiv8 Accelerator in Orange, Australia.

This comes as a surprise, considering SparkLabs has been very conservative in its approach towards cryptocurrencies.

SparkLabs accelerators’ alumni companies have raised on average over $3.5 million with 80% of the startups receiving funding after the program.  SparkLabs’ startups also average over $500,000 in funds raised prior to entering the accelerator programs.

[INFOGRAPHIC] The Rebirth Of Email Marketing – 119 Stats You Didn’t Know

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Email Marketing - MyStartupLand

Despite the fact that there is now lots of new and innovative ways to market a business, email marketing is by no means taking a back seat. This is especially thanks to rise in mobile phone use over recent years.

People have now instant access to emails wherever they are. They often have email notifications activated on mobile devices. Some marketers would even go as far as to say that email marketing is currently undergoing something of a “rebirth”. Thanks to this, brands are exploring new ways to drive ROI and reach potential customers.

The Rebirth Of Email Marketing

Like with most things, email marketing services are constantly evolving, implementing innovative ways to grab the audience attention. New technologies allow for all sorts of new features to be included in a marketing email. For example, more and more emails include a video to grab people’s attention, or use analytics for personalization.

Using names in an email can also be effective, but not as much as thought. What recipients seem to prefer is personalisation. Product suggestion based on their previous purchasing or browsing history is what triggers the audience attention. This is an interesting point to consider, as marketers should send emails with a specific need, as opposed to just sending an email without a defined name. By sending product suggestions, the email is automatically given an aim.

Another great way to grab someone’s attention is to give them something. People love getting free things, and as soon as they see that word in the subject line, it is likely to draw them in. You could also offer them discounts or promotions, all of which are likely to encourage them to click through to your website.

With the rise in social media use, many people thought that the death of email marketing was near, but with companies being creative in their email marketing approach, their demise is by no means imminent.

Email Marketing - MyStartupLand

5 Effective Ways Your Startups Can Get Existing Clients Referrals

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Existing Clients Referrals - MyStartupLand

Regardless of the industry your startup operates in, existing clients referrals are a critical component of your success. When an existing client refers your products or services to her network, she is making a strong statement about your startup. 

Your satisfied client found true value in working with you and is actively assisting you in helping you to generate new business.

One of the biggest challenges startup founders face is how to get more clients. Asking for referrals is a cost-effective solution that many might not be thinking about. Understanding how to get existing clients referrals can help you to get the leads you desire.

Build Trust and Respect With Your Clients

Before asking for referrals, it is important to build brand awareness and ensure that clients are fully satisfied with your startup. Building trust and respect with clients is a critical step in this process.

Although critical, it is not as complicated as it might seem. Building trust is based on delivering on what you have promised you would do. This includes everything from arriving on time as scheduled to perform services to ensuring customer satisfaction before leaving.

TIP: Create customer satisfaction surveys to get instant feedback.

Select Specific Clients for Referrals

When thinking about getting existing clients referrals, it is crucial to carefully select who you want to ask for referrals from.

Each of your clients may have had a unique experience with your startup. Some may have been thrilled with their experience, and others may have only been somewhat pleased. Thrilled clients can generally be expected to gush and rave to others about what they have experienced. These are the clients that will refer your products and services to their network. These are the clients you want to ask for leads from.

TIP: Carefully think about who to ask referral from

Ask for Referrals Directly

There are a few different ways to ask for referrals. One of these methods is to directly ask for leads.

Explain to your clients that you are pleased they had a great experience with your startup and stress out how word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients are trivial for your growth. Chances are that you have helped them in some way through your products and services. Pleased clients will be more than happy to help your business in return. 

TIP: Ask existing clients for referrals, don’t shy away from this practice.

Create a Rewards System for Existing Clients Referrals

Another great way to get existing clients referrals is to create a rewards system.

For example, you may offer a cash credit on the next service you provide to the customer in exchange for the referral. You may also offer a free month of service, a gift card or another type of reward. This goes without saying, but ensure that your rewards system is affordable before you move forward with it.

TIP: Explore rewards opportunities for clients referrals

Extend Thanks for Referrals

Regardless of whether you have a rewards system or not, it is important to extend thanks when your existing clients refer you to others. They have gone out of their way to help you generate more business.

More than that, they have said kind, thoughtful and helpful words on your behalf. Ensure that you reach out to each client who referred you in a personal way to thank them for their efforts.

TIP: Be grateful for each referral you receive

Final Thoughts On Existing Clients Referrals

Referrals are one of the top ways to generate new leads on a dime.

You may have spent a considerable amount of time and effort making sure that your existing clients love the work you did for them. You can easily take advantage of that time and effort through referrals.

Most clients, however, will not refer a business without specifically being invited to do so. Whether you ask for referrals directly or you set up a referral system, be sure to take full advantage of referrals.

 

Do you currently make use of referrals? What are the best strategies that you have implemented so far? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

Drawbacks and Benefits of Mobile Payment in Startups

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Mobile Payments - MyStartupLand

With technology on the rise, it is no surprise people are becoming accustomed to paying for items with their phones. With applications such as Apple Pay, PayPal, and Google Wallet making it easy for customers to pay online, companies of all sizes started to accept mobile payments as well.

While the convenience of paying for everything with a smartphone brings plenty of benefits, it certainly brings a few drawbacks with it. It is important to take these risks into consideration before switching your startup over to accepting mobile payments.

Mobile Payments Benefits

The trend is quickly catching up with customers. Should you jump right into it? Here are the many advantages of mobile payments for startups. Let’s take a look.

1. Convenience

One of the benefits of mobile wallet payments is the convenience. When it’s easy to make a mobile payment the customer will spend more money on your services or products.

A customer is more likely to have their phone on them when they see an item they would like to have rather than their credit card, right? Many companies have already adopted this practice with dozens of examples to vouch for it. Even laundromats are jumping on board and allowing customers to make mobile payments with their e-CleanPay service, instead of using coins to operate their washing machines.

Another benefit of mobile payments comes to the ease of interacting with mobile customers to encourage them to shop in your store. For example, those who bring their phone out to check for item prices, coupons, or product descriptions are more likely to pay with their mobile phone than those who aren’t engaged with your company online.

2. Access To Valuable Information

Encouraging your customers to pay with their mobile device will also provide you access to powerful data that can easily improve your business.

Some of these mobile apps often provide information about the customer that your sales team can implement in their processes. This will improve your sales and survey ratings, all while keeping your customers happy. Using these apps can also help you keep track of your businesses personal information such as your inventory and when you should order more.

3. Cost Reduction

Converting your smartphone into a POS (point of sale) device is much more simple and cost-efficient than purchasing a traditional POS system. Using an app or card reader on your mobile device will also cut the costs of receipt paper and ink since you can email the receipt straight to the customer’s device.

Mobile Payments Drawbacks

After highlighting the advantages of setting up mobile payments in your startup, it is important next to check on the drawbacks.

1. Security Risks

One of the most widely known risks of accepting payments with a mobile phone is the possibility of data breaches. When customers decide to pay with their mobile devices, they are trusting you with their information. If for some reason this information should be compromised, it could cause tense relationships between your customer and your business, harming your brand

2. Inconvenience For Some Customers

Many people are set in their ways and would rather pay for items with a debit or credit card. For businesses having to choose between solely accepting mobile payments or regular payments, this may be an important point to think over.

3. Too Many Alternatives To Choose From

Everyone’s devices are different, and not all mobile payment application treat devices in the same way. For example, a user with PayPal may be good to pay using mobile phone credit at your business, but a Google Wallet user may not be able to. It is important to read the fine print before choosing a platform and to inform your customers of what mobile payments you can accept before starting the transaction.

Speaking of fine print, it’s also very important to note the fees your application may charge you for using their software. Some applications charge a swipe fee for transactions while others charge for manual payments, so beware before signing up.

4. Constant Update Needed

While some see the fact that turning your device into a POS system to accept mobile payments is much cheaper than buying a traditional system, it may actually cost you in the long run.

Whatever device you’re using, you will need to keep up with the updating POS software and eventually will become outdated. For example, many users are currently switching to phones that can support NFC (Near Field Communication). If you keep your device running long enough that it becomes unable to update to keep up with the requirements to run mobile payments, you will have to upgrade your device.

 

Also, on top of having to have at least semi-recent technology, you are also required to keep a strong internet connection to make it possible for your startup to process mobile payments. This may be an added cost that your startup is not ready for yet.

 

Have you implemented mobile payments in your startup? Do you see an increase in usage of mobile payments within your user base? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Biggest Global Cybersecurity Trends in 2018

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As many cybersecurity experts say, no company– regardless of its nature or size – is safe from cyber attacks. In this age where businesses rely so heavily on data and information, it is not surprising why even startups are being targeted by cybercriminals.

It is also well-known fact that hackers have equal – if not better – skills and resources than most startup businesses. With cybersecurity threats on the rise, it is imperative for business owners to take it more seriously and make it a core part of their business operations.

Is Cybersecurity Affecting Only Big Corporations?

Many startups and small business owners think that hackers only target high-profile organizations. However, a study from Ponemon Institute revealed that 55% of SMEs experienced some form of cyber attack.

As long as your business uses an Internet-connected computing device or has an online presence such as website, social media, or cloud storage accounts, you are at risk of getting hacked. Adding more to the risk is that most SMEs have no dedicated IT department to deal with this kind of issues. This is why it is important for startups to make data security a shared responsibility across all members.

Cybersecurity Trends For 2018

This year, we can expect that cybersecurity will continue to be an important topic in the startup scene. To give you a glimpse of what might take place in the cybersecurity landscape in 2018, here are the key takeaways by TeleMessage.

  1. Increased Data Breach Accidents from Unsecured IoT Devices
  2. Cyber Extortion and Data Breaches to Increase in Frequency
  3. More IT Security Professionals Doubt Their Organization’s Cybersecurity Capabilities
  4. Cyber Warfare and Breaches Will Have the Greatest Negative Impact on Organizations
  5. Cybersecurity as Strategic Priority
  6. More Focus on Regulatory Compliance

Global Cybersecurity Trends 2018 - MyStartupLand

 

What security measures does your startup have in place? Have hackers ever attacked your company? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

6 Sales And Marketing Strategies To Grow Your Startup

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sales and marketing - MyStartupLand

The key to growing a startup these days is based on understanding why traditional sales and marketing strategies are failing and why new activities are taking over.

Sales And Marketing To Fuel Growth

A good combination of sales and marketing is needed for successful startups’ growth. Sales relate to those one-on-one direct interactions that add revenues to the organization bottom line. Cold calls, email, networking events, and meetings are all part of the direct sales process.

Marketing, on the other side, involves those activities that a startup takes to reach and recruit prospects. Some examples are direct email campaigns, online advertising, PR and more traditional advertising, such as TV or Radio.

Direct sales marketing embodies all these strategies. Research has shown that there’s a need of 3 to 12 touch points to convert a lead into a client. More important than quantity of contacts though, is following and maximizing each contact point so that the time, cost, and effort put into each sale decrease.

What’s Not Working? 

There are some marketing techniques that have been proved over the years that are still relevant. People still love video advertising. As a matter of fact, video accounts for 69% of all consumer traffic, according to Cisco Visual Networking. Aside from this, however, many other activities are failing. Sirius Decision has reported that on average the sales cycle has increased by 22% over the past 5 years.

  • According to the 2016 DMA Response Rate Report, direct mail is expected to experience a 19% decline over the next 12 months;
  • A mere 13% of people who read print publications report ever looking at the ads;
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened;
  • 70% to 80% of online users don’t look at online ads, preferring to focus only on organic search results;
  • 86% of people ignore television commercials.

 

Effective Sales And Marketing Strategies

Buyers have become more and more complicated to reach due to their ad-blindness. For this reason, it becomes very important for startup founders and marketers to find new and innovative ways to target their audience.

Without doubts, it is the role of a startup founder to ensure that information is delivered to the prospects at the right time, in the right format and platform. This is where inbound marketing strategy becomes crucial.

1. Research

This refers to the time spent understanding company goals and strategy, as well as the industry and consumers. This step is where startup founders focus on attracting customers rather than seeking new leads.

The important points here are:

  1. Clarify what the business is and ask yourself:
  • What does it mean to “grow the business?”
  • How will you know if you are being successful?
  • What are the long and short-term goals?
  • What is the sales process?
  1. Keep checking on the industry

Regardless of the experience, someone might have in an industry, things will keep changing. Innovation is a constant nowadays and it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. This is where industry research comes in.

  • How do other startups fare against meeting (or exceeding) their goals?
  • What marketing strategies are other organizations implementing to attract clients?
  • What current events and news are impacting your industry?
  • Is there a B2B marketplace a startup founder can access?
  • Are there any leaders that a startup founder can speak to within the industry?
  1. Understand your customer base

Another important point is to talk with people on the ground. Your salespeople, but also everyone else involved in consumers relationship, should be doing this. Use those people to gather as many insights as possible to understand what potential customers want.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Which marketing tactics work best?
  • Are customers complaining about any current strategies?
  • What are the customer demographics?
  • What questions are the sales teams answering most?
  • What pain points does the product or service help alleviate?

2. Create Effective Content

Startup founders cannot expect users to discover their website magically. There’s a need to update the content constantly. Over 70 percent of marketers say relevant content is the most effective SEO tactic. Startups that blog 16 times or more per month enjoy four times more leads than those who publish blog content less than five times a month.

The most effective content focuses on helping customers reach their goals or solve problems. Although old content might still be relevant and create value for prospects, it’s best to make sure new content is created constantly.

3. Pay Attention to SEO

In the word of content marketing, SEO is a very important activity to keep in mind. SEO consists of all the factors that influence search engine ranking. This is what makes your customers know where to find your startup. Once you have a good understanding of what your target customer base is looking for, it’s important to spread those keywords on your website.

To optimize a website for SEO, Entrepreneur magazine suggests that startup founders:

  • Create a priority list of keywords that pertain to the customer base and market segment
  • Review industry sources and competitive lists to determine which keywords should be used
  • If there are frequent misspelled words, include those in the web pages as well
  • Track the site’s rankings every 30 to 45 days to ensure the keywords remain effective
  • Determine goals ahead of time and make sure they are measurable to review them regularly
  • Create page titles
  • Develop new sitemaps for Google and Bing
  • Place strategic words throughout your content pages
  • Continually test and measure the business’s success

4. Podcasts Really Work

People love to receive something for nothing. In the world of marketing, the most valuable asset is knowledge. Offer this to potential customers through an effective use of Podcasts.

Podcast listening, as shown by Hubspot, increased by 23 percent between 2015 and 2016.

5. Become Social Media Savvy

The effectiveness of social media marketing is controversial. Some people say it’s a complete waste of time, however, the numbers suggest otherwise. After all, the breadth of audience participation is unparalleled.

  • 72 percent of adult Internet users utilize Facebook;
  • During the past two years, content consumption on Facebook has increased by 57 percent;
  • Instagram has 500 million active monthly users;
  • LinkedIn has 450 million members, with a reported 25 percent active on a monthly basis
  • 30% of U.S. millennial use Snapchat regularly

6. Stay In Contact

Depending on the product or service your startup offers, it might be that it is crossing your target audience mind on a daily basis (such as a food-related product) or less frequently (such as expensive beauty treatments). Once you have an understanding of this, it’s important to structure your sales and marketing activities with that in mind and be there when they are ready to buy.

The best way to do so is to maintain a constant and consistent communication with your target audience.

  1. Collect the customer’s information at every opportunity, but be aware of new regulations, such as the GDPR
  2. Craft email campaigns to stay in contact with prospects and previous customers
  3. Be sure the business is listed in local directories and search engines.

 

Having an effective sales and marketing strategy means more than relying on direct mail campaigns or traditional advertising activities. It involves a multi-dimensional aspect, that develops in a  multi-sensor process. It’s crucial for startup founders to keep up with industry trends, as well as understanding new technologies available in the market to assist your sales and marketing efforts.

What activities are you currently implementing in your startups to leverage both sales and marketing? Do you see any direct result thanks to the strategy you have implemented? Share your experience in the comment section below.

Founders Interview: Eduardo Festa – Edo Agenda Founder

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Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

Eduardo Festa started his professional career back in 2008 in Italy. In 2011, however, when he joined Sisal, as a Social Media Strategist, he started to see things differently. In this experience, he managed to get some key understandings of social channels and customer acquisition.

After this role, he made the jump to the startup life. He co-founded his first startup: Meeting Life. This was a social platform that allowed people to get together and experience new activities. The startup received €60K seed investment thanks to a viral video campaign, which gained attention on Italian and American web-magazines, such as Repubblica and Mashable.

Although things looked promising, they didn’t work out as expected. However, Eduardo, now with the startup virus in his body, decided to go ahead, find 3 brand new co-founders and start a new company: Edo.io srl, from which 2 innovative projects have originated from; the latest and current being Edo Agenda.

In this exclusive interview with MyStartupLand, we walk through his experience as a startup founder, as well as understanding some key learnings for himself as well as other fellow entrepreneurs around the globe.

1. Eduardo, let’s start with an easy one. What’s the elevator pitch for Edo Agenda? 

Edo Agenda is a comprehensive and highly intuitive digital agenda that helps users manage their time, priorities and life by bringing together events, notes, tasks, and reminders.

Its minimalist yet smart design leads users to 3 main accomplishments that are summed up in our catchphrase: “Organize your day, free up your creativity and reach your goals”.

2.     How did you come up with the idea for Edo Agenda?

Edo Agenda is the second product that we have developed as a company. Our company name is Edo.io and we initially had a vision for a digital platform where people could organize, share and manage files and communication in one single place that took the name of Edo Team.

The idea came to me while working at Sisal and most of my colleagues, as well as myself, were experiencing confusion in doing our work mostly because documents were scattered across various platforms and communication channels were disjointed from the documents.

Developing, pitching, marketing and bringing to market Edo Team has been an immense learning experience for us. Some of the mistakes we did, led us to have some delays in bringing Edo Team to maturity. In the meantime, Slack gained significant traction and popularity across the globe and we realized that we had lost our opportunity considering the strong similarities between Edo Team and Slack.

Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

At that point, we assessed the market for solution gaps, considered Edo Team users’ feedback who craved for a more distraction-free and personal tool to organize their life and looked at the technological achievements that we could carry over to a new project. This is how Edo Agenda was born.

3.     What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I believe the answer to this question has 2 elements to it. On one side, I have always had a strong sense of curiosity combined with a healthy dose of risk-taking. I think for example of my experiences abroad in the UK and in USA where I went not only to improve my English but also to explore and improve my digital marketing and startup skills.

In addition, what truly gave me the motivation to found a new company was a vision I had. I could sense and touch my colleagues’ and my own frustration in handling too many tools to get work done and I thought to myself: “There must be a better way to do it”. So I left a promising career and a decent salary to dive into a new adventure that was both a big question mark but that was also in my own hands to steer.

4.     The startup journey isn’t an easy one. What keeps you going every morning and how you keep that motivation going among your team members?

You are absolutely right, working for a startup isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Determination is key to keep going and I find renewed strength in seeing how our users appreciate the work we do. Knowing that we add real value to our users’ life is highly motivating to the 5 of us to continue improving the platform.

Of course, some days are tougher than others and a grand vision or a higher purpose can not suffice at times. That’s when our relentless sense of humor kicks in. In the office, it’s a constant teasing and throwing jokes at each other. It’s like going for a 30km hike or an 80km bike ride. It’s only natural to feel exhausted at some point with a desire to give up. In those moments it’s enough to tell a story or a joke and not only you get distracted and so you no longer feel the pain in your legs, but also you feel your heart warming up, you are happy, you are not walking or cycling alone.

This is exactly what we do, not only when we are struggling but also as a preventive measure. We would hardly find a happier working environment. Play hard, work hard. This is our secret sauce.

5.     For any startup founder, mentors and advisors play an important role. However, we can all agree that the startup world has also a lot of “noise”, with mentors or advisor of dubious experience. How did you manage to find the right support for you and your startup? What are the key qualities in an advisor or mentor you looked into?

When I first decided I wanted to give way to my desire to found my startup, I immediately realized I needed some experience to make sure I would be successful.

In a time (2011) where in Italy the word “startup” was not even being used nor was it known, it was harder than now to find a source of knowledge and guidance. I happened to be lucky to be befriended to Ernesto since our university times, a guy who was as entrepreneurial as myself. He had started this path before me so I decided to spend some time learning the ropes from him in his project “Meeting life” which offered tourists local experiences, extremely similar to “Experiences”, the latest Airbnb revenue stream.

I think Ernesto has been a good mentor as it gets mostly because of 3 key qualities:

  1. Openness, which is generosity in sharing his knowledge. He isn’t jealous of other people’s achievements and believes that 1 + 1 = 3 meaning that by being open about his ideas, he received more ideas back through brainstorming and open collaboration.
  2. Discipline, which I interpret as a serious approach to startup best practices (such as launching the product fast and adapt it to users’ feedback) and an intention to learn startup tools (such as social media) in depth. There is no need to reinvent the wheel and it is crucial to master the tools to make you successful.
  3. Creativity, in the startup and technology world, you shape your own reality, you set your own path. I believe that imagination is as powerful as knowledge. Most people know how growth hacking is key to any company now, not only to startups.

In my opinion, an ideal mentor should be creative and should arouse creativity: it is with new ideas that one can conquer the world.

6.     What is the best advice you have received since you started this journey (regardless who you got it from)?

Never take anything for granted; especially relationships with people.

7.     As a startup founder, stress and uncertainty play a big component in your daily life… What is the number 1 thing that worries you the most? If you were to suggest the “best practice” to deal with stress to other founders, what would that be?

Stress has become a steady companion of most workers, unfortunately, and startup founders are not immune to it. At times, stress can be unbearable and after a number of years doing this activity we decided to face it and found our own solution: while you cannot switch off feelings of uncertainty, fear of failure or pressure to succeed fast, you can tune it down by turning up the volume of productivity.

It may sound cliché but it does work for us; we have learned that by putting all our efforts on what we do best, which is conceptualized, envision and develop an application, we are relieved of some of the stress as we know we are doing the best we can to achieve our goals. Repeating it to each other aloud helps us channel our energy in the right way.

We also found that meditation can be extremely helpful! It forces you to slow down, to breath deeply and to help you detach from your worries: 3 key factors to slow you down. I am personally passionate about Asian ancient cultures and this translates into putting a touch of zen on Edo Agenda to aim at spreading an aura of calm and peace in the world: I hope this does transpire during its usage.

8.     How did the startup life change you? (compared to the time before your startup journey)

It’s very simple: I dedicate more hours to work and fewer hours to sleep 🙂

9.     When running a startup, there are several components that become priorities: product, team, culture, funding, and so on… what’s your top priority when running Edo.io and why?

It is true when running a startup you feel like being a Firefighters team with one truck and 5 bush fires happening at once!

Where do you rush first?

In our specific case, I have always known that “team” is the key element that would make or break my startup. I was lucky enough to surround myself with 3 highly skilled co-founders. Paolo is a brilliant mobile developer with successful mobile apps launched on Google Store. Marco is a killer CTO with Space Engineering background. Angelo is a naturally gifted web developer with extended design and marketing expertise.

We have also welcomed a recent “Australian” addition: with 10 years sales experience in Tech corporates worldwide, Luca. He is helping us manage the entire Marketing strategy and execution.

Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

In addition to the individual knowledge they bring to the Edo table, we are all complementary to each other and together we make a complete team able to be creative, to conceptualize, to develop, to market and to raise funds. We are also a sort of stereotyped Italian startup as we all have either familiar or long-term friendship ties. By having solid, healthy, respectful relationships we operate at high levels of productivity and as I said before, we have a lot of fun in our day to day leading to high levels of satisfaction. We are a happy tech family!

In conclusion, my answer is how “team” has been my priority at the beginning of our adventure and by laying the right foundations we are able to trust each other as well as divide & conquer any difficulty that we face along the way.

10.  Did you raise venture capital? If yes, what would you suggest to other startup founders that are getting into VC funding? If not, are you going to look for funding and how would you go about it?

We did raise venture capital in 2 different rounds and we have received one grant. I recommend to all startup founders out there who are keen to achieve the same to aim at validating your product and assumptions at the earliest opportunity. It is also important to stay motivated, determined and patient as it can be a process as long as 12 months.

11. Your startup is based in Italy. Why did you choose Italy as a starting point? Are you considering moving somewhere else?

We are all Italians and Rome was the largest city closest to us that could offer the ideal conditions to create a headquarters. There we found the first two of our VC investors and one of them, TIM Ventures, offered us an office for free so that is convenient. We are not necessarily bound by geography; with 70% of international users we have huge growth potential and the world is our oyster.

12. Would you consider Italy to be a “startup-friendly” country? 

While Italy is not the easiest market to create or nurture your startup, it has changed a lot in recent years. When we started, no one knew nor used the term “startup”; now there are several incubators, so things have developed, luckily.

13. What’s the startup ecosystem in Italy?

To be honest the startup ecosystem is rather limited.  We work side by side with another promising startup, Pedius, and we exchange ideas and news on a regular basis. Apart from that, we find that more investments could be done in this sector.

14. In your opinion, is there something that is missing in the current Italian startup ecosystem that you would like to see more? 

We would love to see this change of mindset from the Italian banks, politics, investors, and entrepreneurs continue towards understanding how startups are a way for the Italian economy to rise and compete on a global level and how they are best equipped to deliver innovation.

15.  What strategies should startup founders embrace to build a great product?

For us, it’s been about going back to the basics of startup best practices. What has worked particularly well for us is listening to the users.

Of course we have a vision and of course, we remain in control of the evolution of our solution but we listen to every single person who writes us with a question, feedback, tip, request. We reply to every single one of them and whenever possible we aim at meeting their requests or applying their ideas and not because we are nice people but because they represent the market and they may be tomorrow’s paying customers.

Our strategy is to stay humble, listen to the users and not believing we know better than anyone else.

16.  Tell us about how Edo Agenda has been perceived and welcomed in the market and how your revenue streams look like.

So far I have only mentioned our digital agenda, Edo Agenda. But we do have a paper agenda as well, as we believe that paper is here to stay and the 2 tools offer different advantages.

Edo Agenda has attracted so far 81,000 registered users globally in just 11 months of activity, 40% of which reside in the USA and 70% outside Italy.

A meaningful event that brought light on Edo Agenda has been being mentioned as best productivity app of the week on Apple App Store in the US last October 2017. We are in the process of releasing our premium features at 2 euro per month or 20 euro per year if paid in advance. We have decided to offer free unrestricted navigation for the first 2 months of usage to everyone (without the need to enter credit card details) and the vast majority of users are still in the midst of this free trial.

Very soon we will have clearer stats on the conversion rate from free users to paying customers. It is important to highlight though that Edo Agenda will remain free to use for anyone without any time limitations: paying for premium features is just an option.

Regarding our Edo Agenda Paper, we have received lots of interest from about 400 people from all over the world who have been willing to pay expensive shipping costs (as high as 100% of the cost of the item which is 30 euro) in order to own it. This has been a great testament to our choice of design and the worldwide sale continues to occur.

17.  What advices would you give to first-time startup founders?

Read books on startups, digital marketing, growth hacking. Anyone who reads 3 books on a topic knows more about that topic than 90% of the global population.

Stay humble, stimulate your creativity, find a good mentor, work for some companies before, either corporate, SMB or startups: you can learn in each of them.

You can follow their stories on the following Social Media channels:

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Tools For Startup Founders: Edo Agenda

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Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

Summary:

Edo Agenda is a comprehensive and highly intuitive digital agenda that helps users manage their time, their priorities and overall their life by bringing together events, notes, tasks, and reminders.
Organize your day, free up your creativity and reach your goals. 

Edo Agenda - MyStartupLand

What is it?

Edo Agenda combines all elements of the paper tool most used by mankind for personal productivity – the agenda – with the digital plus.
Calendar, note taking, tasks, and reminders meet on a single digital platform available across any device. Edo Agenda helps users to be creative and productive in their daily life.
These are the 3 main reasons to use Edo Agenda:
1) One place to plan – It removes frustration and confusion when planning by being a single repository instead of the multiple apps that users currently need to use for Calendar, Notes, Tasks etc.
2) Cross-device experience – It allows users to organize their life on any device – smartphone, tablet, laptop, desktop –  with instantaneous synchronization
3) Fast and intuitive – Its minimalist approach offers an easy navigation with a minimal number of clicks required to perform actions

Is it Free?

Edo Agenda is free, with no time limits. Premium features can be purchased in-app.

Two months of the Premium capabilities are offered at no cost to any users at the moment of download without entering credit card details. A paid plan is available at 2 euro per month to increase automation and unlock additional tools to boost your productivity and creativity.

Tools For Startup Founders: BuiltWith

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BuiltWith - MyStartupLand

Summary:

BuiltWith is a free database, similar to Crunchbase, but it has some limits due to a specific pricing plan in place.

What Is It? 

BuiltWith allows your sales team to get an understanding of what technology has been used to build your prospects’ website.

The major features of the tools are:

  • Lead Generation: To find specific prospects based on the technology they use to build their website
  • Sales Intelligence: To get your sales team ready before contacting prospects.
  • Marketing Share: To understand how the market share based on technology used

Is It Free? 

Yes, it is free to use for individual sites lookup. However, when your company or team requires a more in-depth analysis of different technologies and companies, there’s a pricing plan.

Choose, Claim and Protect Your Business Name

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Business Name - MyStartupLand

If you think that coming up with a business name is an easy part of setting up a business, think again. If you care to build a reputation around your business activities, you need a cornerstone, which is the business name. This will also be a foundation for building your brand identity which is probably the most serious aspect of doing business.

Regardless of what many businesses end up doing once they start operating, the message you send across is the reason why your customers come to you. If you want to do this difficult task right, you should follow these steps.

Do The Research

If you want to start a business on a fair basis, you will do your research first. Taking a business name which already exists and could be associated with another business could extend some of their good reputations to your business. However, doing so would not be ethical, and in certain instances, it could also raise some legal issues. The best would be to check the local government registers and do online research to see whether you can find something under that business name.

Choosing A Name

People often go for a business name which is, in fact, their personal name. This is a name you can connect to and in a way, your reputation depends on your business’s reputation. In certain countries and states, if you choose to operate under your own name, you do not have to register it. On the other hand, if you want to protect it, you should. If you want to operate under a DBA (Doing business as) which is a fictional name, you should choose something that inspires and motivates you. Often, business owners choose a name related to their line of business, or something which can depict their intended brand image. Yes, you should start thinking about the brand image even before you start the business.

Brand Features In The Name

Speaking of the brand, there are several things you should keep in mind. First of all, what it is that you do and what type of mood and lifestyle do you promote. The mood is often set by the type of business you run. To give an example, if you sell funeral equipment you should be gentle and sympathetic, if you want to run an accounting business you should be serious and friendly, if you are selling toys, you should be cheerful and playful. Now, look again into your audience and look for things they find meaningful. Whether the name should be straightforward, metaphoric, or simply quirky, it is up to you and your audience.

Choosing A Domain Name

We live in a digital society and the power of your online existence should never be underestimated. While you do not have to have a domain name which matches your business name, it is definitely preferred. Before you officially register your business, you should check whether there is a domain name available which is the same as the business name you have selected. If it is not, perhaps you want to search a bit further. Having a domain which is an exact match will help your digital marketing strategies down the track.

Source: Secure Now Your Domain Name

Protecting Your Name

We have already touched upon the subject of protecting a business name. If you choose to operate as a limited liability company or a corporation, from the moment you register, the government authority in charge will not allow anyone else to use your business name. This way you will be claiming the right to the name, and even some deceptively similar names. As mentioned above, you can register your DBA to prove that you claimed the name first and you can always sue does who try to use. If you can prove you were the first one to get the name and you have built a business around it, you could get others that came after you to change their name.

Trademark Your Name

If you are looking to protect your name as the intellectual property, you should look into protecting it under the corresponding trademark law. Business names are not a subject to copyright, so trademark registration is your only answer. If you want to do this, you should have an original and distinctive business name which can in no way be confused with other trademarks. This will protect you from those who wish to use your hard work to their advantage. When registering a trademark, you can do it on a local level (within your state) on a federal level (nationwide), or on an international level.

Fighting For Your Business Name

Same business names can legally exist in different jurisdictions and there is nothing you can do about that. You can keep a close eye on your competition and pay attention whether there is a case of abuse of your business name. That is the only case when you should act and when you are required to act.

This could be literally by streamlining what would otherwise be your profits into their bank accounts by operating under false pretense, or by potentially damaging your reputation. You never know what another business could do to your brand by association and with their poor business decisions.

In such instances, you should hire legal assistance and sue the other business. You will be required to prove that you were the first one, that your business is active, and that it is at risk.

 

Choose a business name which will draw sales to you. You need something others will like hearing, something catchy and something people will want to associate with. To help you do your business, find a name you can stand behind. Take all the necessary steps to protect your good name. Do not wait for someone to expose it to risk, to only then start thinking about your claim to the name. Do it as soon as possible, from the very first moment you start planning your business.

Social Selling In Enterprises – A Guide On How To Do It

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Social Selling - MyStartupLand

Be where your market is

This is a basic sales learning everyone should be aware of, enterprise companies as well. Customers right now are online, regardless of the industry. Big corporations cannot longer ignore this communication channel.

Of the 7.3 billion global population as of July 2015, more than 3 billion use the Internet. Of these, more than 60% are on Social Media. Facebook has more than 1.7 billion users; LinkedIn has 450 million.  Moreover, about 90 percent of brands are on at least two social media platforms.

The fact that consumers are on social media is not the only reason why companies should adopt social selling. According to a May 2017 Forrester Consulting survey (done for Hootsuite), managers are in general unhappy with the typical sales process.

The majority of the survey respondents believe most salespeople come to the meeting with a strict agenda, regardless of whether it applies to the prospect or not. The Internet, and social media with it empower buyers to something about it. Prospects, today, are doing their own research and sometimes make up their mind even before speaking with a sales rep.

Traditional sales strategies have become less effective in recent years due to this drastic change. Callback rates are down, dipping to below 1 percent; while only 24 percent of sales emails are opened.

Social selling has become a fundamental part of every sales strategy. It is a crucial component of every sales team toolbox and no one can escape, including big enterprises.

What Is Social Selling?

Social selling expert Koka Sexton describes social selling as: “Leveraging your professional brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights, and relationships…. But at a very base level, it’s how a salesperson uses social media to listen and engage with decision makers that are on these networks, asking questions and looking for help.”

It’s important to understand that social selling has nothing or very little to do with social media marketing. Social selling is about your messaging and how you build brand awareness on social media. The idea behind social selling is very much the same as traditional selling – engage and build relationships!

The difference here is on how you engage and build those relationships. You do it online through focused content and active participation in social media conversation.

B2B Enterprises & Social Selling

It has been observed that there are tangible benefits for B2B enterprises to adopt social selling. A “Social Centered Selling” and “A Sales Guy” research claim that 72% of sales reps who implement social selling, perform better than their colleagues who don’t.

Social Sales Reps are more likely to hit their quota by 23%.

In an exclusive interview on TenFold with Neal Schaffer, one of Forbes Magazine’s Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer, he confirms this clear trend: “What elements of social media can we add to make our sales process more effective? To generate more leads, to shorten the sales cycle, to close more leads and to generate more revenue… The distinguishing fact in B2B is that you are selling to a large organization and social media helps you map out those organizations. It also gives you advice on how to engage… and, allows you to engage with a broad number of people…. B2C does not need that one-to-many approach, so I would argue that social selling is more appropriate to B2B for that reason.”

Enterprises cannot ignore this trend. Competition is fierce and smaller companies have adopted social selling for some time already. Those who fail at engaging will lose the battle.

Social Selling Adoption In Enterprises

The same Forrester study shows that there is a decreasing resistance to social selling. Most of the companies surveyed see both a long- and short-term value in such type of sales approach. Almost half of these have a social selling program in place, with an additional 28% developing one. Interestingly enough, 36% believe the future of sales is in social selling.

Despite the apparent resistance, enterprise companies are getting in social media. The main obstacle moving forward will be only the implementation of this strategy against traditional ways.

Why Social Selling?

Digital innovation has empowered the buyers to go on a “self-guided journey” to the purchase. SiriusDecisions points out that 67% of the buyer’s journey is nowadays digital. A buyer’s mind is 57% made up before they even meet a salesperson.

Needless to say that this situation leaves your sales and marketing team with an immense challenge. How do you reach out to the digitally empowered buyer?

Social Media

An IDC study done in 2014 shows that the majority of B2B buyers, across all age groups, rely on social media. More specifically, 75% of B2B buyers and 80% of executive buyers use social media when making purchase decisions. The study also points out that these people are more frequent and influential buyers who have larger budgets.

Aligning Content Engagement with Sales and Marketing

Your content strategy plays an important role in reaching out to the digital buyer. This is how you can educate and influence their behaviors before they even meet your sales team. In another Forrester study in 2017, it was shown that 82% of B2B buyers found their top vendors to offer helpful content. This is also supported by a LinkedIn study, which claims that buyers are 5 times more engaged when you offer educated insights on the industry.

Word of Mouth

It has become common practice to go online and seek recommendations and referrals. 84% of surveyed companies said that their start their buyer journey with referrals. By not having a social media presence your company is missing out on potential referral business that comes to you through brand advocates.

It’s Really Easy To Start

It’s not that hard to kick off things on social selling. Your sales team needs to start devoting at least 5-10% of their time to social media activities that support their current sales strategy. It can be as simple as checking professional connections on LinkedIn, before making a call or just researching your target company’s current pain points.

It’s important to keep in mind that there will not be an immediate result. It is an investment in social engagement, and as such, it will take some time.

Social Selling 101

A strategy should be at the basis of social selling in enterprises. “Many sales executives who would never go without a common sales methodology or CRM system have yet to establish a common social selling methodology and set of tools. The result is a wide variety of individual skills and processes that cannot be managed effectively.” – Kurt Shaver, Founder of The Sales Foundry

Remember that being online as part of social networks and using social channels for sales are two different things. Here you can find a simple template to follow. Measure what works and what doesn’t. Tweak as you need to fit your business.

Get Management Buy-in

A social selling strategy should have the full buy-in of the top management. If your sales team spends time online, engaging with potential prospects, time for measurable sales effort will decrease. Social selling is an investment, not a waste of time.

It might take longer than expected, but once results arrive, also the top management will see its value. And no, you don’t need to be a millennial to do this right.

Your Professional Brand Is The Focus

Your brand is something that is part of you since you start working with a specific company. However, as seen with other companies, sometimes things can get a bit out of control when it comes to social media and real-time conversation. Remember to keep personal opinions on your personal social media accounts (or even better, offline).

For organizations, it’s important to consider that even though a salesperson can be highly trained in identifying and engaging with prospects on social media if her professional brand is off, then she will have troubles establishing herself as an authority.

Stay Visible

Visibility creates opportunities. Staying visible can be challenging when it comes to social selling. How do you become the “voice of the industry”? How will you make those buyers listen to you?

It all starts with content. Offering relevant content to your connections will elevate you among your peers. Be available to discuss with your audience. Get involved in business groups. On top of just participating, make sure to offer value and help others. It’s not about endorsing your brand, it’s about creating your professional brand.

Do The Background Work

Social media will help your sales team gathering a lot of information about your target market. This new channel allows your reps to connect with them and start conversations. It might also give you insights on what type of person your target decision maker is.

It’s important, however, to remember that although the amount of information available is enormous, you will still need to do some work. Social media won’t just give you a lead out of the blue. It won’t guide you on how to engage them effectively. You are still in the driver seat.

Listen To The Market Sentiments

In a Forrester survey, we saw that more than 50% of B2B companies use social media to generate leads. However, very few of them use social media to listen to the market. You are missing a big opportunity.

The same survey showed how sales teams are not taking advantage of these tools.

Keep Learning and Learning

75% of surveyed B2B sales reps said that they were trained on how to use social media for selling. The training was around basic guidelines in online engagement. This is not enough though, considering how many times big corporates have failed in social media communication. Continuously asses your social media engagements. Provide further training to your sales team. The internet provides quite a few resources for those willing to learn, take advantage of them.

 

What steps are you currently taking to keep your sales team up to date with social selling activities? Do you have ongoing training and processes for your sales reps? How do you use social channels to leverage your position against your competition? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.