David vs. Goliath – Startups pitching to the big guys

This article was originally published on Tech City News

david vs goliath startup

How to get your idea in front of big brands

You have a great product and initial investment, but getting your idea in front of a major global brand is one of the biggest challenges a startup can face.

So how do entrepreneurs break through the barriers of their startup status to work with a major business?

Our own journey has been incredibly exciting and along the way we’ve been fortunate enough to work with household names including Heinz, Nestle, Reckitt Benckiser and the BBC. There is undoubtedly great potential for startups to collaborate with powerhouses such as these brands to deliver new and innovative technology. Working with iconic household names has multiple advantages as your team is exposed to best practices and benefits from the opportunity to learn from industry experts.

There is also a ripple effect as brand deals often result in an introduction to their agencies, presenting another opportunity to build relationships and cross-sell your product to other businesses. Moreover, once you secure that first global brand it adds huge credibility to your offering, making it easier to reach out to their counterparts.

For startups looking to pitch to large brands, here are some tips on how to go about it:=

1. The sales cycle

The sales cycle can take longer than expected, so don’t be disheartened if things don’t move as quickly as you would like. To aid the process, always be transparent about progress from your side, update project timelines regularly, and be honest about delivery times to manage expectations.

2. Go in at the top

Understand the best person to target by identifying key decision makers in the organisation and research the key influencers within their support network.

We invest time in mapping out a contact strategy and leveraging our networks to ensure we lobby the most relevant senior person. In the long run, this is an approach that saves time, and can easily be done through LinkedIn. Networking at industry events is another no-brainer for meeting well-connected people, who in turn can make further introductions.

3. Clear proposition

Remember that senior decision makers are busy, so their time is precious. Communicate the benefits of your proposition to their brand and target market in a clear and concise manner.

We use the well-known acronym ‘WIIFM’ – what’s in it for me – to put us in the client’s shoes. The pitch tends to focus less on the product and the technology behind it, and more on the benefits to the brand and their consumers. Highlight metrics, statistics and KPIs, which will make it easy for them to see the potential return on investment. This may require you to initially invest in research to determine the effectiveness of your product or offering, but this transparency is imperative to building your story – and storytelling is fundamental to any good sales pitch.

In addition there are some great accelerators, such as The Bakery London, dedicated to connecting high growth technology companies with some of the world’s largest brands.

Finally, be sure to maximise endorsements using PR and marketing where available. The more noise and buzz you can generate around your offering, the easier it is to get the attention of global companies.

In summary, it is hard work and requires investing time and effort to get in at the top with the key decision makers. This said, a clear proposition, knowing who to approach and building your story will all help to secure investment from your target clients.

 Your turn: Have you had success pitching your startup to big brands? Share your tips in the comments below

How to achieve positive ROI from a Conference (& be the best hustler in the room)

I sit on a high speed train, hugging the side of Lake Geneva Switzerland – as I make my way on back to the airport from The Festival of Media Global Conference where I spent the last few days.

It’s been a productive few days. Our company won the Hot Company of The Year award, but most importantly – I successfully connected with almost every influential person in the conference that was relevant to my business.

They know about our startup and I have their contact details with a clear action to follow up with them when I return home. I’m confident some business deals will come as a result of this. However this was not down to chance – I fully knew that I would meet every person I wanted to before I even arrived to the conference.

But last night I realized that not everyone receives, or expects these results for attending conferences.

Last night after the awards ceremony, I was speaking to one of the other startup founders who we were competing with for Hot Company of the Year award – let’s call him Joel. He told me:

‘Conferences are largely a waste of time anyway, the real business only gets done late at night at the bar when people are getting drunk. This gives you a chance to connect with people at a human level – and if you connect with someone – then this can result in business. The daytime part of the conference is largely a waste of time – and my other startup founder friends feel the same.’

I had to tell him straight: I couldn’t disagree more. I continued:

‘When I decide to go to a conference – I expect nothing less than a 10x return on the investment/cost of the conference (flights, tickets, expenses etc etc). Coming from a User Acquisition marketing background – I see conferences as a marketing channel, and like any marketing channel you have to see a positive ROI if you’re going to do it.’

Joel looked at me skeptically.

So I explained to him exactly what I do that pretty much guarantees that I meet every person at the conference who I wish to meet, resulting in follow up meetings when I return after the conferences – and inevitably to some real business. It’s all about the hustle.

Joel had never heard of such an approach, and although I initially thought everyone woul do what I do – last night it became clear that 99% of people do not.

Joel’s response was to offer me a job.

What I’m about to share with you – will put you into the top 1% of hustlers at the conference (I’ve asked high profile people how many reachouts do they usually get before a conference – and they answered 2 -3). This will put you in control of meeting every person you want to at any conference.

Note: The process I’m about it share with you isn’t rocket science, but does require some balls & hard work. If you’re too shy to reach out to people you don’t know, don’t like rejection, or consider conference as a bit of a jolly – I recommend you get someone in your team who does have balls/hustle to go to the conference with or instead of you for the sake of your business.

For example – I was at a conference a few months ago that I was told I was the subject of the conversation in the speakers room – someone had mentioned ‘this startup guy is trying to meet me’, an the other speakers confirmed that I had also contacted them. When I met the guy in question – he didn’t mind at all. He said he actually respected me more for it.

Ready? Ok let’s go…..

As a marketer – you should analyze all marketing expenses to see if it achieved a positive return on investment (ROI). You should see conferences as a marketing channel like any other. Unless you believe you can achieve a positive ROI (earn more money from business resulting from attending the conference than it cost you to attend). A positive ROI should be a minimum.

When deciding to go to a conference – I expect to earn a 10x return on investment. SO if it costs us $2,000 to attend a conference (very realistic if you’re travelling out of your continent), unless we believe we can earn a minimum of $20,000 from it, we won’t do it.

But what if you want to go to a conference to ‘learn’ or ‘get inspired’? My rule:

If you’re going to the conference ‘to learn stuff’ or ‘it’s where everyone else is going’, then by all means go – but you should pay for it out of your own pocket (note – this is for commercial based conferences, I see other value in tech conferences for developers, which I’m not speaking about here)

Your startup should only pay for you to go to a conference if you believe you will earn a 10x ROI from going to the conference.

But how do you know if you’ve achieved a 10x ROI?

Well you apply the same principles as you would with any marketing campaign – you track the results.

The way that conferences differ than most marketing channels is that the results are almost never instantaneous. Most of the connections and relationships you form at conferences can talk some time (up to 6 months) to come to fruition – and sometimes from unlikely sources.

Take my trip to Dublin Web Summit last year for example. All in, with flights and conference ticket it cost us about $750 (£500). It wasn’t obvious at the time what the direct result was, however 6 months later I look back, and we raised a total of $25,000 from people I met at the conference (it could have been 3 times this but we had to turn down a lot of money that was offered to us).

We’re also developing a key new product with another company I met at the same conference – which may result in revenue many many times the above.

In short: that’s not bad ROI.

So how do I achieve these results? I do the following process everytime:

1) I research well in advance of the conference of all the people who I most want to meet (potential clients, commercial partners etc etc)

How do I know who is attending the conference? Easy – you know in the following ways:

Speaker list: Typically most of the more influential people attending conferences will be speaking at the event. Most conferences publish the full speaker list on their website. Now you know

Delegate list: Some (not all) conferences will share the full delegate list with you. This is not typically standard, or published on the website. Email the organisers to request this (has worked for me – you don’t ask you don’t get), OR if they’re using Eventbrite etc – very commonly the list of attendees is listed on the registration page

Conference App/Social Network: Most conferences have it’s own app or social network these days. These usually have a list of attendees in the app somewhere – which allows you to search/connect/contact them

Twitter Hashtags: People attending conferences usually begin sending some tweets with the conference hashtag in the days prior, and during, the conference

2) After spending some time researching the attendees 

I make a shortlist of the people I want to meet. This is pretty self explanatory – simply depends on your business goals

3) I find the contact details of the people I want to meet.

To maximize the potenitial of them responding to me, and hence positive results, I want to find the following contact details (in order of priority)

A – Email address. I will share how I find out the emails addresses of anyone I want to (and you can too), in my next blog post. This gets me approx. 70% of contact details for people I want to connect with. If I cannot find their email address, then look for…..

B – Linkedin: I pay for a premium account – this allows me to contact people via sending ‘inmails’ (note these are good, but not as good as having the actual email address – hence why we try emails first)

C- Twitter: A third option. I’ve had limited success with this

4) You send them an email message in advance of the conference

(4 days in advance is the ‘perfect’ time) requesting a meetup.

These people will likely be influential and will have never heard from you as you’re a startup founder. However the great thing about conferences is that people go to these events to meet new people and see new ideas. And no matter how busy they normally are – when they’re a conference, they have to be there – and this inevitably means there’ll be time when they’re waiting around for stuff.

Most people are up for ‘giving back’ a little and will respect that you’ve been hungry enough to reach out.

The message you email them needs to do the following things:
A) Be non salesy (no one wants a pitch)
B) Be short (2 lines)
C) Peak their interest – like mentioned above, people want to see cool new stuff at conferences . You want intrigue them wnough so they see you as potentially cool new stuff

Here’s an example of a message I might send in advance:

Subject: [Insert Conference name]

Hi [insert name]

I’m [your role – to show you’re a biz owner, not a sales dude], we [very high overview o what you do]. We [benefit of what you do to the person you’re emailing].

We [something 3rd party validation that you guys could be the next big thing, and will peak the person’s intrigue]

Would you have [insert short time period, I like 10 mins], to meet at [insert conference name]. Know you’re super busy, so no problem if you don’t have time.

Howard xx (kisses optional ;)

Hi X

I’m a massive fan of Facebook and been a user from the start ☺, I’m co-founder of Future Ad Labs – a startup that has developed a very new type of ad format. We make websites incremental new revenue while also improving user experience for users.

We were awarded Hot Compny of the Year at The Festival of Media 2013, and have Global brands already signed up for our launch.

Would you have 10 mins in Montreux next week to get your feedback on our new product – hugely value your opinion, and we’d have a lot to learn from you.


5) When they respond (approx. 60% – 80% will)…..

you respond with a specific time and place to meet. Give them 3 options on times.

e.g. ‘That would be great, thanks. Would you be free to meet at 10am, 11am or 12pm on Tues morning by the Facebook stand? My number’s XXXXXX

6) Then you meet! I’ll cover how to get the most out of a short meeting in another post – but you need to be able to peak someone’s interest in 2 minutes, any time above that is a bonus.

7) Follow up  

This happens after the conference and is as important as the above steps. I’ll cover this in another post

So to summarize:

1) If you want to be in the top 1% of hustlers at a conference – it’s mostly dependant on the work ou do in advance of the conference
2) You need to know the people you want to meet
3) Your only goal of the first email is to peek their interest to get a 10 minute meeting
4) The only goal of the meeting is to peak their interest enough to get a longer meeting outside the conference and/or an intro to a relevant person in their team
5) Follow up after the conference

Does this all sound like a lot of hard work? Well it is! But if you want it bad (and I’m assuming you do) – this is what you need to do.

The good news is because it’s hard work – 99% of the other people at the conference won’t have done this. Allowing you & your company to reap the rewards ☺

I get a ‘thrill’ out of reaching out to and connecting with people that I have no right to be speaking to or meeting with. Try it, it’s fun.

If you do the above, not only will you experience a different level of results from your conferences with a strong ROI – but you’ll be in the top 1% of networkers in the room.

I’ll do follow ups to this post with examples how I find anyone’s email address, how to work the room on the day of the conference, and how to follow up effectively.

Your turn: How do you get the most out of your conference visits? Share them in the comments below:

A Year in Review – and my Goals for 2013

I’ve been an avid goal setter for years – and I believe it’s one of the most important things that a successful person can do. In this post I’ll share my goals for the year ahead – and review how I did on my goals for last year.

Why do I bother?

Well there’s a few reasons:

  1. It’s fun: Call me  geek, but there’s few things that get me excited more than planning the awesome things you’re going to achieve in the next year
  2. It’s selfish: I know that by posting my goals up here – it will make me publically accountable for doing them – hence increasing my likelihood of doing them
  3. Inspiration: Hopefully some of these goals will inspire you to set similar goals (if you have goals, would love you to share them in the comments below)

It was just over a year ago I sat here making goals and plans for 2012. I knew it was going to be a big year for me, and as an avid goal setter – I set goals that would make 2012 a year I achieved more than any other.

Well, how did I do?  Reviewing my goals:

 Goal 1: Post 2 Blog Posts a Week and have 10k blog subscribers

 Result: FAIL!

I did post 2 articles a week for a while, and one of my articles got onto the front of Hacker News – resulting in this site crashing due to too much inbound traffic. An interesting experience.

But I’ve just been too goddamn busy with my new startup to post twice a week, which leads me niely onto the next goal I set…..

Goal 2: Be running my own Startup


In September last year I quit my job as Head of Marketing for a very cool Social Gaming startup, to co-found my own startup. I write this as co-founder of a very exciting startup that has just gone through a startup accelerator, has raised some investment and is about to close it’s first significant funding round. It’s been all consuming, but great so far :)

Goal 3: Debt free and £100k in net worth

Result: Fail!

So I smashed through most of my college debt this year – but haven’t quite cleared it yet. So defo carrying this forward to 2013!

Goal 4: Do more with less

Result: Success, almost

Ok on refection this was a bit of a fluffy goal. I wanted to make better use of my time with clearer focus and be more thoughtful to people around me.

Main thing I learnt is that I believe can only be really great at one thing at a time. Which takes focus. Hence why we’re doing great with the startup – but things like this blog has suffered a little.

Goal 5: Become a Fish

Result: Fail.

I wanted to learn to swim well – I totally flunked this and I still swim like a brick. Carrying forward to 2013!

Goal 6: Coding

Result: Fail!

Completed a few courses on Codeacademy, but didn’t continue. I’d like to learn this sometime – but I just don’t see this as a priority right now. Will come back to this sometime.

Goal 7: Speak at a Conference

 Result: Success

Spoke at quite a few event, and was the lead organizer and speaker at Startup Weekend in Newcastle, which was a great success & I’ve started teaching for the first time in General Assembly, which is cool.

 Overall – 2012

I really learnt that, to do achieve something hard –you need to give it your full 150% focus. So although I didn’t achieve some things on my list (blogging, swimming etc) – I achieved the most important one: my startup.

2013 will have fewer – more focused goals.

So forward to 2013 – My Goals!

Goal 1: Future Ad Labs

As you know, last year I quit my job and co-founded a new startup. We’re launching in early 2013 and making the successful and profitable is my no.1 goal for the next year.

Hard work ahead, but it’s going to lots of fun :)

I have a few more goals listed below – but this getting this rocket off the ground will have 150% of my focus

Goal 2: Swim 50 lengths

Last year I failed in my attempt to learn how to swim well (I’m a sinker at the mo ;) – this is the year. I run marathons, cycle hundreds of miles & play almost every other sport but I suck at swimming! This must be changed! And will do so by swimming 50 lengths of front crawl by the end of the year.

Goals 3: Debt Free

Yes – Still paying off my college loans, I managed to pay back over £20k last year which I think is pretty impressive. I’m so damn close to having these all paid off, and when I do I’ll feel like the richest guy in town J

That’s it – 3 goals, a lot fewer goals than last year when I had 7 – but super focused. Looking forward to what the year will bring!

Your Turn: What are your goals for 2013? Share them in the comments below!

How to Grow a Fast Growth Startup


In this video interview, I’m joined Dan Martell, founder of Clarity

Dan has launched a number of successful startups in the past decade including Spheric (acquired ’08), Flowtown (acquired ’11) an now Clarity (which has recently hit its 10,000th call milestone) – one of the most powerful products out there for helping new startup founders and business people. I’ve written about Clarity in the past here & here  and we it’s awesome to have Dan back on StartupRemarkable for the second time.

In this interview you will learn how Dan successfully launched his latest startup Clarity, and:

What are the key ingredients to launching a startup that will rock
- How to create momentum for your startup’s launch that constantly builds to create a compelling story
How do you get your first users, a super tip how to hustle to get your friends signing up & what Dan rates as his no.1 user acquisition strategy
-  What Dan’s secret to getting so much stuff done is
-  Why advisors are so important (and how get the best advice from them)
 Check it out here:

Dans Links
Dan’s Blog
The first interview Dan did on StartupRemarkable 1 year ago (where he speaks about Cohort metrics)
The awesome dashboard blog post Dan mentions
My blog posts about Clarity

Your Turn: What did you learn from this interview? Share it in the comments below

Ignite it! Entering a Startup Accelerator

ignite 100

ignite 100

It’s not every day you get to cross a Life Goal off your to do list.

That’s exactly what Andy (my business co-founder, awesome developer dude & lover of Muller fruit corners), and I are doing.  We have entered a startup  into a startup accelerator.

Entering a startup in a startup accelerator has ben on my Life Goal list for the past 2 years now, and last week we quit our jobs and entered Ignite 100 – a startup accelerator program in Newcastle in the North-East of England, with our new company Future Ad Labs.

Exciting times.

You What?

Those of you that have been following this blog know that I’ve had this one my ‘to do list’ for a while, but it’s happened so fast I just haven’t has  chance to write about it yet. Like everything – When stuff happens, it happens fast.

Andy and myself (and 11 others, who aren’t with us anymore) formed a team at Startup Weekend London in July, armed with an idea we all believed in. We all worked our asses off that weekend – an awesome group of guys. I knew the deadline for the Ignite 100 startup accelerator was 8am Monday morning (Andy worked till 6am working on the prototypes #legend), we got the application in, got accepted, quit our jobs and 1 month later here we are in Newcastle, starting the Ignite 100 program with 10 other startup teams.

Rock on!

Those of you not familiar with startup accelerators – a quick recap: imagine a program where a cohort of startups come together, get seed funding (we get up to £100k in Ignite 100),  tons of mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs & access to an awesome network. The program lasts 13 weeks and culminates at Demo Day where we pitch to investors for potential further investment, should we need it. Here’s some info about what people learn at startup accelerators.

For us, it gave us the little bit of validation, money and time, to think – ‘this is worth quitting our jobs for’.

The Risks

As with everything, a startup accelerator doesn’t come without risks. And there are some biggies for us.

  • Quitting my job: I wrote previously about how I got a dream job. It was the prefect job, walking away from it wasn’t easy
  • Stock: when quitting this job I had to leave stock options on the table. Stock options I fully believe will be worth big bucks when my last company company gets bought out in a few years
  • No guarantees: The startup accelerator comes with no guarantee of success – indeed if we don’t hit our milestones we don’t get our full funding at the end of the program (£90k GBP at stake)
  • Drop in salary: Both Andy and myself have taken a pay cut to do this. It means tightening our belts in the short term

Obviously by being here, we didn’t let these things stop us :)

We felt that worst case scenario, even if we did go bust in a few months, we’d have ‘gone for it’ and learnt sh!t loads – and that’s not so bad a scenario at all.

Aiming High

So what will we be aiming for over the next 13 weeks of the Ignite 100 startup accelerator?

Over the next 13 weeks Andy & myself have set ourselves some really aggressive targets. Our aim on Demo Day is nothing less than knocking it out of the park. These include

  • Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
  • Go to market and get on board some real, big name clients
  • Formalize our business plan, advisory board and investment plan
  • Knock our Demo Day presentation out of the park & get the investment we need to take things to the next level

I’ll be introducing you to what our business is, how we plan to bring it market and all we’re learning along the way over the coming weeks

Wish us luck :)

 You Turn: You entered, or ever thought of entering into a startup accelerator before? Share your experiences in the comments below

Mobile Marketing Mastery: How to Get to the Top of the App Charts


In this video interview, I’m joined by Entrepreneur, Mobile Marketing expert and founder of Mobile Dev HQ – Ian Sefferman

I came across Ian when reading an amazing post he did explaining the fundamentals of mobile app marketing, and I knew he would be the perfect person to discuss the subject of mobile marketing in more detail

In this interview you will learn:
- How to launch your Mobile App in a way to increase the likelihood of success
– How to discover the audience for your Mobile App
– Learn the fundamentals of Mobile Search Engine Optimisation
– A mostly unknown place where the Apple App Store gets its Keywords from (which you should use when marketing your mobile app)
– Why you should launch your Mobile App in a test territory before launching global
- How to use paid mobile marketing usccessfully to get in the top 25 of the Apple App Store
- How many mobile app downloads you need to get into the top of the Apple App Store charts

Check out the Interview here: (p.s. apologies for the echo in parts of the interview, I hope you agree that the awesomeness of the tips shared by Ian far outway the odd echo)

Ian’s Links

His post on Quick Sprout 

Mobile Dev HQ (Ian’s company)

Ian on Twitter

Your turn: Do you have any Mobile Marketing Tips you’d like to share? Post them in the comments below:

How to Hit 4 million Users in 6 months – A Startup Case Study

Grow Your Startup

Grow Your Startup











How to grow your startup from zero users to  million users, in just 6 months?

That’s the question I’m regularly asked at startup events when they hear about the success we’ve had with I Am Playr (the social game I work with), which we launched 8 months ago.

So I thought I’d use this post to answer that question

This is the story of how we grew I Am Playr, the first game for our social gaming startup to over 4 million users in just over 6 months. I’ve picked out the 6 most impactful things that got us there:

Before I get started, some caveats:

4 million users is really a vanity metric. Yes, it’s true – we’ve had four million users play our game – but that’s actually easy to do (if you have deep pockets), what’s harder is to keep those users engaged and coming back day after day (and month after month). That’s why the standard industry standard metric is Monthly Active User (MAU) – we have 1.3 million of these now playing on ave 48 minutes a day, which is still pretty damn good. More on vanity and non-vanity metrics here

• These user numbers may sound huge to you, and to a certain degree they are large, but we are still a tiny player in the social gaming industry. Companies like Zynga alone have over 292 million monthly active users (and Drawsomething famously added 50 million users in 50 days) – so although we’re proud of what we’ve achieved, we’re very aware we’ve a long way, and a few more zeros, before Mark Zuckenberg is posting about us on his Facebook wall

• I write this from the perspective of Marketing Manager for I Am Playr – so most of what I’ll I write about will be marketing focused, however – the growth could not have been achieved if the game production team did not develop (and continue to develop) such a genuinely amazing game

• Throughout this article I use the word ‘game’ – but you could really change this for ‘your startup’ in most of the cases

Ready? Ok let’s go

Here are the 6 factors that helped our startup reach 4 million users in 6 months

1) Viral Marketing

Before I started working with I Am Playr, viral marketing was one of those buzz words that I often heard talked about but rarely saw in action. However, like all good social games (and social startups) – we now have lots of viral marketing mechanics to help us grow our users.

Technical note: Before I start telling you about vital marketing, I first want to tell you what viral marketing is not: Word of Mouth. Yes Word of Mouth can spread like a virus, Malcolm Gladwell tells the story of how Hushpuppies did that very thing in his book The Tipping Point, but that’s not a viral mechanic per se.

Virality (measured as ‘k’ factor) is defined as a action by a user which directly brings in another user to the game. This should be trackable path of clicks to prove where each viral user came from.

We have a number of these viral mechanics in I Am Playr – ranging from sharing achievements on your Facebook timeline to rewarding you for having more players in the game with you. An example of this is here.

A few months after launch we introduced a viral mechanic that rewarded users for inviting friends to the game. It looked like this:

playr invite










Here was the impact:

Viral Marketing Growth








Takeaway – Study viral marketing and implement every proven mechanic there is (there are lots)

2) Facebook Marketing (paid)

Having a budget to give your startup an initial boost of users can be vital. Much like a rocket trying to leave the earth’s atmosphere – it can give you the user base you need for other, self perpetuating marketing channels (such as viral marketing, media partnerships etc) to kick in.

But what do you do with it?

When I started working in Marketing about 10 years ago – we would spend tens of thousands of dollars on above the line advertising that we would never really know if it worked or not.

How times have changed.

If you’re a web business you have to be great at pay per click advertising (biggest of these are Facebook ads, Google PPC or Bing PPC) simply because you can guarantee huge number of users. You want to be able to buy them in the most cost effective manner possible – ideally users that spend more money with you than you spent to acquire them. This is called positive return on investment.

Most direct response digial advertising is based on a Cost Per Click (CPC) basis – well you should take more note of the Cost per Acquisition (CPA), which is far more important. This tells you how much it costs to acquire a real user (i.e. they register with you in some way) – vs someone who clicks an ad and hits the ‘back button’ before you can say ‘not interested’

The most effective form of online advertising will vary, depending what you product is and where it is found on the web. For us, Facebook ads work the best, for two reasons:

First: Users play our game on Facebook – so when they click on our Facebook ads, they are already signed in – which reduces friction in the user conversion funnel. Compare this against if someone sees a Google PPC ad, clicks it and see’s the ‘sign into Facebook’ page = massive drop off in users

Second: Facebook ads allow us to target users using both their demographics and psycho-graphic profiles. This gives us the opportunity to target users who are most likely to spend money in our game (we track user type behaviour once they get into our game).

An example of this is, that we know that – a 28 year old Norwegian Male (demographic) who supports Barcelona and likes to play social games (psychographic) will be very likely to spend high amounts of revenue in our game.

Trouble is – so do all the other smart Facebook marketers out there – which is why it gets competitive :)

More on some ways to get the most from your Facebook ads – see here

Takeaway: Have a marketing budget to give you a base level of users to make things interesting. Then get really good a PPC based online marketing

3) Localisation

Might sound like I’m stating the obvious when I say that the web is global. But I don’t think you can truly appreciate how global it is, until you’re dealing with millions of users from around the world that do not speak your language.

I Am Playr is now played in over 200 countries – and it goes without saying that it’s more fun to play a game (or use any product) that is in your native language. So when we saw that we had hundreds of thousands of users in countries such as Turkey, Brazil and Argentina – we had to follow suit.

So we localised the game into three languages (Spanish, Portuguese and Turkish) – and the results surprised even us.

Not only did we see a huge increase in users from these regions, but revenues from these areas increased massively! Learning: For people to take out to take out their credit card – it needs to be in a language they’re familiar with.

Sounds so bloody obvious typing this, but we never realised how much of an impact this could have.

Takeaway: Look where your users are from your data – move quickly to localise in countries that show early adoption

4) Open Graph

Being connected to Facebook, either by being built directly on Facebook, or off-canvas via Facebook connect has it’s perks

By perks I mean tens of thousands of free users every day

How does this happen? This wonderful thing call Open Graph – as you play games (or interact with apps that request a Facebook permission called publish_actions), certain things users do can get automatically shared to their feed.

You know when you see what your friends are listening to on Spotify? That’s Open Graph.

Anyone that clicks on any of these messages are brought directly to your app (and they do, in their thousands).

Best thing is – once you ask for the right permissions when users installs your app, and you have Open Graph set up – it runs automatically in the background.

As Open Graph is still pretty new (Facebook just full launched it a few months ago) – it’s still a bit Wild West like & there are still opportunities for massive growth for companies who are doing this right.

open graph growthIf you asked me what 1 way could lead to rapid growth in viral installs? I’d say Open Graph.

Takeaway: If you’re linked to Facebook in any way – implement Open Graph now.

5) Cross-promotion

There is a healthy eco-system of games on the web – games companies know that most users play a number of different games over the course of an average week. Hence the word – Casual Games, as you can pop in and out of them quickly (of course the games try to get you hooked once you’re ‘in’)

Enter the cross-promo or click sharing

Click sharing networks such as Appplifer or MauDau work by games placing their cross promo bars somewhere on their game. Every time a user clicks on an ad on the bar, the game owner receives a ‘click credit’ and they receive a reciprocal click from a user somewhere on the game network.

Make sense?

And don’t be fooled into thinking not many people click these bars – we recently received over 30,000 clicks in 3 days from one of these bars. They’re clicks & users that we didn’t pay a penny for.

Of course having too much of this kind of thing can negatively impact your game’s retention rate (sending too man users away from your game) – but if done in moderation – they’re usually a powerful way of getting new users. And better to get a reward (a reciprocal click) for someone clicking an ad, than none – which happens if someone clicks a Facebook ads when playing your game.

Makes me think – what other industries would this model work for?





Takeaway: Implement a cross-promo bar – track number installs you get and monitor if retention rate drops

6) Discovery

Just like on Google – people search for stuff on Facebook/App Store etc, however these sites are not search engines – so they’re search algorithms are more basic than the Google’s of the world

Meaning you have to spell it out for them.

Meaning SEO 101 – know the keywords relevant for your game and use them often everywhere you can (without it sounding unnatural) – think name, tagline, supporting description, meta data (if you can add it)

Go to Facebook and type in ‘Play Now’ into the search bar – how do you think the top result got its 130,000 Monthly Active Users?

Being smart here and thinking ahead when you’re naming your product can pay dividends.

Takeaway – Do Keyword Research, know your keywords and implement them strategically

Your Turn: Know any other marketing techniques that have worked really well for you? Share them in the comments below

How to Prototype a Successful Startup, with Amir Khella

AMir Khella

In this video interview, I’m joined by Entrepreneur, startup advisor and user experience designer Amir Khella

Amir has designed and helped launch more than a dozen startups (including Ustream, Docverse and many others). His own latest project Keynotopia was launched in 3 hours with a $47.50 budget and had it’s first paying customer in 10 minutes – it now has over 25,000 paying customers and is used by entrepreneurs around the world.

In this interview you will learn how Amir did this. And:

- How Amir launched a produce in 3 hours with a budget of $47.50 which got its first paying customer in the first 10 minutes!
– How Amir got tons of free traffic to his initial concept
– Why UX design is so important to a successful startup project
– What the process Amir follows is when he is prototyping an idea
– Why you should always make more than one prototype
– How to decide what startup idea you should work on

 Amir Links mentioned in this interview:

Amir Khella Blog


 Amir’s Course on Udemy that I took to prototype my app

7 Reasons Why Your QR Codes Suck

QR Code cool car

QR Code cool car















QR Codes are the Hottest New thing in Marketing, Every Marketing Campaign Needs a QR Code – yep we’ve heard it all over the past year

And my, haven’t we seen lots of QR codes.

Question time: How many times have you actually scanned a QR code in the past year? and of those few times, how often have you gone thought ‘wow, I’m glad I did that’ (note: if you have, I’d love to hear about it in the comments at the bottom of this page)

Yep – just about 12 months after the QR craze – it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than:

QR codes suck

Or more accurately, their execution do. They are the most commonly misused ‘technology’ in modern marketing - in this post I’ll explain the 7 reasons why, with some of my favorite examples.

But it didn’t need to be this way – if used correctly QR codes could have and should have brought value to users – it’s easier to scan something than type in a long web url. However badly executed QR codes by marketers who don’t have a clue have meant they have moved from ‘Wired’ to ‘Tired’ in record time.

Oh well.

7 Reasons Why Your QR Codes Suck

QR Code Underground

QR Codes on Underground = Not Clever








1 Badly thought out

OK – don’t expect you to foresee the future and I know we’re dealing with hot new tech here, but maybe just a bit of ‘using your head’………

How many times have you seen a QR code an inflight magazine, or on the Underground? how exactly are you meant to scan these when there is no internet connection? The above photo is a great example

QR Code Bottle Fail

So I’m supposed to scan this, how?










2  In the Wrong Place

See above – a picture speaks a thousand words. Knowing where your QR code will be placed is a good starting point, at what point did this marketer realise that their code was actually unscannable?

OMG a QR Code

OMG it’s a QR Code!!!!








3 No Context

How many times have you seen a lone QR in a window or on a wall. I firmly believe the person who put it there thinks that you’re going to stop, think ‘Oh my God, it’;s a QR code – I better scan it QUICK!’, pull out your phone from your pocket and start scanning it

QR Code no reality

Now aren’t I glad I packed my 3D glasses today








 4 Not Living in Reality

The sooner you realise that people do not stop on the street and get excitied about your QR codes the better. You get excited about your ads because you spent a long time making them. People don’t, unless they give a benefit that they really care about.

I mean check out the above – this advertiser is expecting someone to ‘happen’ to have a pair of 3D glasses with them, willing to stop, take them out, put them on look at the 3D and then pull out their phone and scan the QR code.

How many people did this? I think you know the answer

QR Toilet

Yes, that’s a QR code in a toilet








5  Not Having a Clear Benefit

Include a benefit to the user for going to the truble of scanning your code.

‘Scan here and receive a $10 =voucher’ – I might think about it

‘Scan here’ – errr, how about I don’t.


So, you know it’s hard to scan moving objects right?

6  Not Knowing How QR Codes Work

Having a bit of knowledge how QR codes work, can be useful. Check out the campaign on the left of QR code assed beach volleyball team. This is a true story.

Have you ever tried scanning a moving QR code?






QR Email

Hackers should know better..










7  Doing them to make you Look Cool

Throw on a QR code – it’ll make us look cool. QR codes for a very specific, beneficial purpose work (I like QR code scavenger or treasure hunts for example, when each code scans to clues to the next codes etc). QR codes for QR’s sake is where the issues begin.

OK – what’s wrong with the above image? this was received in an email. So instead of just clicking on a link, you now hav to take your phone out of your pocket and scan the screen like a twit.

And what happens if you’re reading the email on your phone? Try scanning that one!

QR Code high

Tips on a Successful QR Code

OK, QR codes are far from dead yet – and although I laugh at many examples in this post, they can be valauble if used correctly. If you’re going to use QR codes, do the following:

1  Make sure the QR code is somewhere prominent that people can see (having an internet connection can help too )

2 Tell people what they can expect to see if they scan the code (make it sound worthwhile with a clear benefit)

3  Reward them with an offer for scanning the code

Or else don’t bother

Your Turn: Seen any hilarious QR Code Campaigns? Or remember any QR Code campaigns that you actually thought were good? Share them in the comments below!

Credit: I got all these QR photos from the awesome blog WTF QR Code

How to Grow an Influential Community, with Paddy Cosgrave

paddy cosgrave event

In this video interview, I’m joined by Irish entrepreneur Paddy Cosgrave,

In just 18 months Paddy has created two truly global events that the most influecial names in tech want to speak at and attend: F.ounders and the Web Summit series. Speakers at these events include: the founders of Bebo, Twitter, Skype and Bono to name just a few.  This month Paddy was named no. 26 in the Wired 100 list of top European Influencers

In this interview you will learn how Paddy did this. And:

- How Paddy launched 2 of the most important conferences from nothing, in 18 months
– How he reached out to people who were WAY more important to him (when he was unknown) and got them to commit to speaking at his events
– The most impressive thing he’s learnt from all these founders he’s managed to meet
– How he builds insane buzz for his events
– How he get inspiration from the music industry to create buzz by strategically announcing speakers 
– What the number 1 page people view just before making a purchase is
– What is the 1 most important ingredient of making a great event is

Paddy’s Links:

F.ounders and the Web Summit

Your Turn: What did you learn from this Interview? Share it in the comments below


How to Grow an Influential Community, with Paddy Cosgravew

Howard: Hi everyone, Howard from Startupremarkable.com here. I have an awesome guest, a bit of a legend back in Ireland, Paddy Cosgrave with me. He is number 26 in Wired’s top 100 most influential people this year and he’s a founder of a very [very] influential group in America and a blog called founders which has people from the head of Skype, Twitter and Bono go to those events and today I’m going to talk to him about how to build an influential community and also the science of how he builds the buzz around these event that he runs. Paddy, good to see you here in London!

Paddy: Nice to see you too, Howard.

Howard: So, first of all, a guy from Dublin, right? How do you build one of probably the most influential communities in the world over in America that has some of the most influential business people wanting to attend? How do you do it?

Paddy: I think [most] of it is huge amount of luck like 18 months ago I really hadn’t ran anything. In terms of founders I’ve never really been at founders before and it was October 2010 just 18 to 19 months ago that was the very first founders. It just started as an idea that I guess resonated with a lot of people which at that time [was] there are fantastic events that bring together founders and entrepreneurs from incredible companies from all over the world but those events are almost all regionally focused.

So there’ll be great events in the states that bring together brilliant people but they are all most overwhelming being Americans then some big events in Europe and they bring together some great people and it’ll be overwhelming American or Europeans and the same of the case in India or China _____ massively global and founders was that and it’s noble for lots of different reasons has become what it’s become. You know its 2 parts. The first part is inviting the right people. You know it’s always very hard persuading the first person to commit and then once somebody is committed then it’s easier to get the next two and it just keeps on.

Howard: So, how do you get the first person to commit?

Paddy: I think the back story to this is kinda curious and it’s kinda revealing and it takes an enormously long time probably four or five weeks on one person to persuade one person to tentatively say okay.

Howard: Can you tell me who that is?

Paddy: That was Niklas Zennstorm, Founder of Skype. He really was the first person. It was an incredible thing for me to do because there were no events before. In fact we have no name. It never really happened before. But I think a lot of entrepreneurs understand that you know they started out from nothing and advance at some point have probably started out at something. And so it started from there. He was an unbelievable person to get and then I kinda went from there.

Howard: So how did you reach out to him about it?

Paddy: I just emailed.

Howard: Literally?

Paddy: Yeah! You know I think most people believe that that person must get so many emails. About the one thing I’m asking him to do which is to come and speak. And in reality sometimes they don’t and this guy sometimes loved the idea of speaking to High School or even Primary School if some teachers ask them they feel. You know in many cases these entrepreneurs in three years, in four years in five years in two years you know one year ago were broke they’re living out in a tiny box apartment you know their living out of suitcase and they really they don’t have any airs and braces about themselves. And they’re very giving, giving in terms of giving back to the community.

So sometimes I think you know wherever you are in the world whether you are in a tiny island in the Northwest of Scotland, Northeast of Scotland or in Dublin, or somewhere in the United States or in Brazil you should reach out to these guys and all of them are accessible cause the majority of them are on Twitter, Facebook or their emails or usually publicly available. You just need to don’t write a big email. Just keep it very short and sweet. Three sentences of what specifically are you asking of. And if they want to find out more somebody will get in touch with you and that’s the starting point for the conversation. You gotta start the conversation pick their interest and you also gotta accept you know I guess most of them probably won’t be able to do it.

There are hundreds of amazing tech entrepreneurs out there you know spread your net wide and so.

Howard: And once you get one you try to get social proof to I suppose.

Paddy: Yeah, I guess so. I think the Dublin Web Summit kinda started in 2010.

Howard: Yeah that was the very first one.

Paddy: And yeah Matt Mullenweg and Craig Newmark in February 2010 they had a really good time.

Howard: Did you do that first one as well for founders you had a bit more confidence cause you already get to reach out to these guys from Matt for example how [come] did that come about did you hear his coming anyway or…

Paddy: Yes, there was like a kinda amazing background story with Matt. My little sister, she was 19 at that time, she got elected to a student society at their university and she came to me in summer 2009. She’ll go “The internet’s so big now…” and I say, “Well done sis. All that education is paying off.” And she was, “Yeah! You know, every year we invite all these politician and these academics speak at the students who are members of the society but we want to invite some people who have done amazing things in the internet online but we don’t know who those people might be. Could you like recommend a few people and then we’ll select who we feel are the best people?” So I recommend Matt Mullenweg cause everything he has done with WordPress are absolutely incredible and from there my little sister kinda got back to me a few months later this student council said we voted for Matt to be invited so I reached out to Matt and said, “Hey would you come and speak to the student in this university and then what’s your ___ would you like to speak to tech community as well?” That’s kinda first genesis, I have really no idea what I was doing. I know nothing about audio, knew nothing about nothing. So that’s how all of these kinda started.

Howard: And you had a successful episode in a past company. Do you think you needed to have that to kinda get the respect to run these events you think?

Paddy: Well, I don’t really think so. I don’t really think that respectable or _____ but maybe there are some kudos for actually trying. And you know. The amazing thing, take founders for example, you bring those 150 tech guys that built Bebo, Twitter, YouTube, Skype. Michael Birch is a wonderful example in that… he is not a wonderful example all of those 150 are a wonderful example because what they have more in common things about each other is not because they have succeed once or twice it’s that they’ve failed multiple times and because they’ve tried and most entrepreneurs have failed more than they have succeeded and I think it’s just the trying it’s the process of actually trying to build something that maybe gives a little bit of kudos to most some people.

Howard: Paddy, your friends with some of the top guys in the world now. Do you ask them for advice on things regularly?

Paddy: Sure, yes like last 18months like craziest start like a startup NBA, steroids or something, you can ask everybody about like: How do you compute the viral factor? What’s the best way to measure to see if an app is growing or not? And talk about design or UX. It’s just like yeah it’s been really [really] fascinating. And I think entrepreneurs are more fascinated they don’t do things really to make things they like to build things and create stuff they are fascinated by ideas. It’s the ideas that drive them.

You put two or four entrepreneurs and they’ll just talk for hours until their COO calls and say, “Where the hell are you? You’re supposed to be in the office. We got a meeting. Show up.” Maybe I’m being idealistic but I think that’s my feeling.

Howard: Nice and one thing I want to cover. Always with your events probably more than I’ve ever seen in any type of event before you have a certain way that just builds great buzz about the event. For your events you build buzz that’s I suppose looks like you have a certain process there and it’s intentional where you like create scarcity, people have to add some waiting list and you know some more tickets.

Paddy: I think the biggest thing is that if you’re ever going to email people or contact them or broadcast something about your event you should have something new so announcing all your speakers at the very start is probably not the best idea. If you look at a classroom or few other events they kind of they don’t necessarily start at the biggest act they start at a really good act and then there’s a number of months past and the announcer one hell of a headline and then they add some more acts some more acts and keeps snowballing up to the kind of the actual event itself. I think that’s really important.

Howard: Where did you get the inspiration from music festivals?

Paddy: Yeah, definitely.

Howard: Oh did you really okay.

Paddy: Because music festivals [they don’t] they hold and they hold that’s a music festival they say these are the pieces of dates these are the guys that we played over the last few years.

Howard: And did you know someone in the music industry that told you how to do that or did you just observe?

Paddy: One or two guys working with me now worked for MDC and Mean Fiddler which are the biggest concert promoters in UK and Ireland some of my good friends, one of my good friend just kinda ran Jay-Z and Kanye West concert in Ireland and you just observe.

[That’s] it kinda works and it’s kind of exciting you know if you kinda have 90 speakers it’s almost kind of meaningless. How are you going to get through that so you kinda announce key speakers at different mobiles so you can add some interesting engineers and you add some interesting designers. Things that resonate with parts of the community helps build momentum.

Howard: Awesome [awesome]!

Paddy: Oh! But the interesting thing is that most people if you look at the data so you go in Google and [you say] you look at the page most people visit before buying the ticket and it’s not the speakers. Speakers are amazing but people go because other people are going because people want network so they fly to Dublin, fly to London to void seven other flight and it’s a huge amount of scheduling and so they can do separate back to back meetings.

So they look at the attendee list they scan the attendee list and go, “Wow! There’s a lot of good people going. I don’t want to miss it. Something could happen maybe nothing might happen but at least while I’m there I won’t be missing anything. Any opportunity that might come my way meet investors that come my way or meet some journalist that might really help my startup. At least I’m there. Worst case scenario, I don’t miss anything, best case scenario I meet group of people that can change the _____ of my company.”

Howard: Yeah! And you’re completely right I remember being here at events and looking over who else is going and do you use some kind of _____ or something or do you to do that?

Paddy: Well yeah we just use a _____ we post stuff out there and…

Howard: Oh really? So you like to list down the names of people and publish it?

Paddy: Yeah.

Howard: Cool! Very cool! Cool! Well Paddy the pizzas are here so we’re gonna shoot up. And we have a big event that is about to kick off in about half an hour just before anyone else just before someone I leave someone maybe thinking of starting a community or running big event what’s the kinda one big kinda learning you have in the…

Paddy: Like a lot of conferences over the last two years I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is conferences is about the people that attend speakers are very important, sponsors are very important and the person organizing is important. But it shouldn’t be about the person organizing it, it shouldn’t be about the sponsors it shouldn’t be about the speakers it should be about the experience that the attendees have and that’s the most important thing and if the attendees aren’t having a good time you know it’s like hospitals is everything you know it’s all about the patient schools are all about the pupils it’s not about the teachers and conferences are just exactly the same, events are the same communities are the same it’s all about the people. You gotta care for the people. Make sure everybody’s having a good time and that’s it.

Howard: Cool! Awesome! Paddy, before we go where can we find you in the web?

Paddy: Websummit.net

Howard: It’s f.ounders.com. Awesome! Thanks, Paddy.

Paddy: Thank you very much!

Howard: See you all!