Startup Remarkable http://www.startupremarkable.com Startup Marketing & Growth @howardvk Sat, 16 May 2015 03:54:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 Neuro-Self-Wiring: Happier, Calmer, Better http://www.startupremarkable.com/neuro-self-wiring http://www.startupremarkable.com/neuro-self-wiring#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 11:06:31 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=965 Richard Branson, Brad Feld, Marc Beinoff, Larry Page & Arianna Huffington do it. Tim Ferris puts it down to one of the secrets to his success. No, it’s not yacht sailing, agile programming or even masterminding with other entrepreneurs. It’s something that is free, you don’t need any fancy accessories for and you can do

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Richard Branson, Brad Feld, Marc Beinoff, Larry Page & Arianna Huffington do it. Tim Ferris puts it down to one of the secrets to his success.

No, it’s not yacht sailing, agile programming or even masterminding with other entrepreneurs.

It’s something that is free, you don’t need any fancy accessories for and you can do right now.

 It’s meditating.

Before you disappear from this post thinking ‘ what has that got to do with making me a better entrepreneur or marketer?’ Stick around, as it has everything to do with it.

In this post I’ll give you a very high level summary of why meditating is important for entrepreneurs, and two easy steps how you can try it out yourself.

Background:

My introduction to meditating was a skeptical one – I was raised in a traditional Irish house as far away from the ‘Californian, meditating hippy’ stereotype as you can imagine. As an example – my mother banned my sister from doing yoga because she thought it was evil!

About two years ago I started hearing more mentions of the power of meditating in entrepreneurial books and blogs posts I was readying. Now if these mentions were from sense’s or Buddhist monks I would have likely ignored them, however these recommendations were from Entrepreneurs – first from Jonathan Fields in his excellent book ‘Uncertainty’, then  and even from one of our investors.

At first I ignored the mentions, but after hearing about it repeatedly I started to take notice. After all, I was reading these books to learn from people more successful than me to learn what it is that makes them successful, so disregarding it all as rubbish them would have been pretty naïve of me.

In all these books, they all raved of the benefits to entrepreneurs that included:

– Feeling more balanced, even if you’re juggling 50 balls in the air

– Being happier, even if the shits hitting the fan

– Ability to remain calmer, even when

– Helping them be successful

All fighting words….So this year I felt I got to try it (and made a note to myself if I’d started wearing robes into the office in a month’s time I’d probably taken it too far)

So this January, I did some research on the best meditating app out there (I found it to be Headspace, which I definitely +1 on the recommendations), downloaded Headspace and got started.

I’ll admit, starting to meditate when you’ve never done it before (like I hadn’t) can be a strange experience. To meditate you need to effectively control your mind and keep it calm for 10 minutes – seriously challenging for an ADHD entrepreneur.

So as I was taking deep breaths and looking for zen my mind would keep filling with thoughts such as:

– ‘ I wonder how I should run that meeting tomorrow’

– ‘ Shit, I didn’t email back that investor dude’

– ‘ Why isn’t there an ‘uber for cats’? that would be a great idea’

But the great thing about Headspace app is that it starts you at meditating 101 and talks you through exactly what to do (I’ll leave you to check out the app yourself, rather than me explain it here).

If your co-founder sees the app on your phone just say you’re checking it out for an example of a great onboarding / activation strategy (which it has)!

But training the mind is no different that training any other muscle in the body, the more you practice the easier it becomes!

Four months later…..

So four months on from mediating for 10 minutes (so ‘don’t have time’ isn’t really an excuse) every day (well almost, I did miss some, but only a handful), what have been the results?

  • I feel calmer when shit hits the fan in Adludio (hey, even if you’re Elon Musk in Telsa…shit will always hit the fan sometimes!)
  • I believe I’m more ‘present’ when in meetings/speaking to people – I enjoy the moment rather that be thinking of the 20other things I have to do that day while I’m in a meeting
  • I feel happier, more appreciative of wheat we’ve achieved, and more excited about what’s coming up over the next few years.

Dan Harris, a co-anchor at ABC news says that mediating makes him 10% happier and more effective. If there was a way to make your sales cycle / team / conversion rate 10% more effective you’d do it straight away right? So why would making yourself 10% more effective be any different?

Although meditating is still a niche (largely to it being associated with wearing robes and becoming a Buddhist monk I think), I strongly believe we will see it growing more and more into the mainstream over the next few years.

Impossible? Remember that exercising was seen as strange until the 1950’s, until the health benefits were recognised – and how many of you agree that exercising makes you more effective?

Beginning to meditate could be one of the best things you do to improve your focus, balance and happiness….and make you a more effective entrepreneur / marketer.

Try it

Two resources to help you get started:

Headspace App (first x days free) – just download and go. The first 10 days is for absolute beginners to start you on the journey

Book: 10% Happier (written by an ABC news anchor who goes from drug fuelled parties to meditating daily, and becoming more successful as a result – so definitely not The Power of Now or another book from Oprah Winfrey 😉

 Let me know how you get on!

Your Turn: Do you meditate or interested in starting? Write it in the comments below

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Hacking Crowdfunding: How we raised $500k in 36 hours http://www.startupremarkable.com/hacking-crowdfunding-how-to-raise-500k-in-36-hours http://www.startupremarkable.com/hacking-crowdfunding-how-to-raise-500k-in-36-hours#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 08:36:51 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=959 It’s Tuesday evening, we sit drinking some peppermint tea, I’d already had four coffees so conscious not to overdo it. In the past 36 hours we have successfully raised $500k* (£300k pounds) in convertible equity through crowdfunding or our tech startup. We went live 9am Monday morning so we successfully hit our target in 36

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It’s Tuesday evening, we sit drinking some peppermint tea, I’d already had four coffees so conscious not to overdo it.

In the past 36 hours we have successfully raised $500k* (£300k pounds) in convertible equity through crowdfunding or our tech startup. We went live 9am Monday morning so we successfully hit our target in 36 hours. Not bad for a day and a half’s work. By the time the campaign closed a few weeks we had raised $750k.

In this post I will take you through how we did it.

Crowdfunding success

First, why Crowdfunding?

I was someone who had admittedly been a little skeptical about Crowdfunding. I’d heard all the arguments: is it as prestigious as landing a top VC? What reputation will be associated with it etc?,

Well my mind had been well and truly changed.

In the weeks on the run up to the campaign we had put a lot of preparation into launching the campaign, learning a lot of insight into launch a crowdfunding campaign in such a way to ensure it success.

In this post I’ll explain the strategy & tactics we employed to hit our crowdfunding goal of $500k in 36 hours, eventually going on to raise $750k in convertible equity, 100% above our funding goal.

Background

Our company’s scenario was perhaps not completely standard as we had previously raised $1 million through established VCs and Angels, but wanted to raise a interim/pre-series A round so why did we go to crowdfunding this time?

We knew the guys at Crowdfunding site Seedrs, (note differences between equity crowdfunding sites like Seedrs and more Kickstarter type crowdfunding sites) and had mentioned to them our intention to raise a pre-series A round via a convertible note. Seedrs told us that they were developing the ability to raise convertibles through crowdfunding, which would be the first time a convertible note had been raised through crowdfunding anywhere in the world, and would we like to be the first to do do. We knew this was a great story so we said yes.

So, We decided to raise $500k (£300k) in convertible equity through crowdfunding site Seedrs, using convertible equity. The terms were as follows:

  • Target fundraise: $500k, with the ability to into ‘overfunding’ which basically means it does not have a hard stop ceiling, so we could go over the $500k market is it became super popular)
  • A $30m / £20m CAP
  • A 15% discount (read what convertible equity and what CAP and % discount are here)

In short – we felt this was a good deal on the table, so we were excited to move forward.

We said hell yes, and we set the launch date for a month’s time

How we raised the money – strategies to help you

Growing up in Ireland, one of my favourite toys was a wind up Ferrari car. When I got it first, I had to assemble it, then you could pull it back on the table and it would wind up. Then when you let go it would shoot off along the table at great speed.

A crowdfunding campaign works a bit like that: Phase 1: Assemble the car. Phase 2: Pull back, and Phase 3: Let it fly

Crowdfunding equity

I’ll break down the details of each of these stages below:

Phase 1: Assemble

Selection of platform 

There are 500 crowdfunding platforms live in the US alone, raising billions for their companies so with so many options clearly picking the right one is important. There’s four main types of platform: Reward based, Equity, Fundraise and lending. Here’s a good post describing the differences.

Choose wisely and don’t make the decision on % they take alone. We chose Seedrs, and equity crowdfunding site platform here in UK, and I honestly cannot recommend them highly enough. They went out of their way to help us succeed.

Prep of your page, videos etc

It’s a no brainer that your page should look incredible. There’s lots of other resources explaining this so I’ll let you red them. Here’s what ours looked like:

 Key things to remember:

  • Just like a blog post or book, your title is super important. This is usually what people see when the campaign is shared on Social media. Make it intriguing
  • People watch the video first, make it awesome.
  • People decide in the first 5 seconds of the video whether to watch the rest. Make the first 5 seconds the most awesome part of the awesome video. If the first 5 secs suck, people are gone
  • For the rest of your content: Show progress, examples of people that already use you, support you and make it visual so easy to digest

Creating your marketing strategy

You wouldn’t launch a business, product or event without having a marketing strategy in place…your crowdfunding campaign is no different

You strategy should include all the different channels you’ll be using, your posting calendar schedule and most importantly, there different stories you’ll be leading with

In a campaign like this you’ll need to create a lot of sustained noise about your company. Trust me a month (or how ever long you intend your campaign to run for) is a long time to keep banging on the same message, so unless you have something new to say people will begin to ignore you. SO you need to think of a string of stories to drop out to the media, social media and your community to keep the energy and momentum high throughout the campaign

Good news is that people will love to get behind you doing this – so you just need to give them the ammunition of good content to do so

Other things to have in your marketing strategy:

  • VIP list of people who will support you
  • Customer success stories are good, we had some from some of our past investors

Phase 2: Pull Back the Ferrari

Pay attention, as this is the single most important thing you need to do to have a successful campaign.

Whatever amount you are looking to get funding for, you need to line up 40% of this in advance of the campaign going live.

Why? We were told that companies that get to 40% funded are 80% more likely to successfully reach their funding goal.

I repeat – once you get to 40% funding you are 80% more likely to be successfully funded. So you strategy should be fully focused on achieving this 40%.

So if your total funding goal is $100k, then you need to have a min of $40k lined up. And of course you can go into overfunding as you then blast through this campaign goal J

But I don’t have any $$ lined up, how can I get this 40%?

Well there’s no secret growth hack to this one. It’s about old fashioned hustling and fundraising. So yes, even with Crowdfunding you’ll need to hit the bricks and go out to raise some cash from investors – good news about doing it this way is:

  1. You obviously only need 40% of what you you need to raise in total
  2. There’s less games / deal dynamics involved as everyone’s just putting money into a platform
  3. It doesn’t matter where this money is from, in our case it came from existing investors, for you it could be from a grant or from an accelerator program etc (disclosure – I haven’t checked if these latter two suggestions are allowed on crowd funding platforms)

Once you have your 40% in place & you have your page and your marketing strategy, your Ferrari is pulled back and you’re ready to let go!

Phase 3 – Let it Run! 

If you’ve done the previous two stages successfully – you’re ready to let go of your Ferrari.

The morning of your campaign, you must have the people who have committed to support you (phase 2) literally ready at their computer the minute your campaign goes live. Call them, message them, call at their door – velocity is key here so you want to get to 40% as fast as possible. Why?

Almost every crowdfunding site has a ‘hot deal’ section of the site, and it’s almost always ranked by ‘velocity’ i.e. how fast people are growing. Once you get in the ‘hit deal’ section, you’ll benefit from more organic discovery, as everyone is looking for the hot the new deal!

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready tp punch go on the marketing strategy you’ve prepared in Phase 1

Other tips

  • Keep a daily log of what activity you’ll be doing in a spreadsheet itemised by day
  • Share with your team so everyone can get whipped up with the excitement, and share your marketing stories
  • Optimise activity to time of the week (we found Monday / Tues but it varies by platform)
  • Your friends / supporters / advisors will be one of your best source of promotion, use them!
  • Ask if the platform will help by tweeting, featuring you on their homepage or in email blasts

Hope this was a helpful guide to launching your equity crowdfunding campaign, any question please put them in the comments below or call me via Clarity

Your Turn:

Have you successfully raised a Crowdfunding campaign? Please share any tips how to do so in the comments below

*why in dollars? Because most of the readers here are based in the US!

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Why I’m Reading a Book a Week in 2015 http://www.startupremarkable.com/im-reading-book-week-2015 http://www.startupremarkable.com/im-reading-book-week-2015#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 13:32:07 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=942 Like many of you, I see the new year as an exciting opportunity to set some epic goals for the year ahead. This year is no different and one I’m very excited by is my goal to read 52 books in 52 weeks (a book a week). Why have I set this goal? I’ve set

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Like many of you, I see the new year as an exciting opportunity to set some epic goals for the year ahead. This year is no different and one I’m very excited by is my goal to read 52 books in 52 weeks (a book a week).

Why have I set this goal? I’ve set this  goal pf a book a week for a number of reasons

1 – Something I enjoy

I would call myself a book geek, choosing reading a non-fiction business book over watching TV/movies any day of the week. But it wasn’t always this way…

Strangely enough, I was never interested in learning while I was in school, it just never appealed to me. Sound familiar?

It wasn’t until my early twenties, when I started discovering business, and that the more I learnt, then more I could apply successfully to my business (at the time myself and my friends were running a DJ events business in Dublin, Ireland) that I found I had an insatiable appetite to learn.

This appetite gathered pace in University, and it was during a year travelling around Australia immediately after university I really lost myself in business and marketing books – I’d devour every book and podcast on marketing, self development, consumer behaviour and entrepreneurship I could get my hands on (luckily my girlfriend of the time had a severe Harry Potter addiction so I was able to get away with hours of learning a day).

I remember this period of going from book to book, the feeling of excitement as I learnt a new element of business/marketing and the ideas it would give me for future businesses with great fondness. And I missed it.

Since setting up my business just over two years ago the amount of books I’ve had time to read have dropped considerable. After working late in the office, by the time I got home I’d be exhausted and was more likely to spend an hour watching Game of Thrones to switch off, rather than reading. Sound familiar maybe?

Anyway, I miss the excitement and inspiration that reading these books bring me. And I look forward to getting that back.

2 – Grow my awareness and knowledge

I see books as incredibly empowering. If there’s a topic you wish to learn about, just pick up one or two of the best books on the subject and….hey presto!

In your business there’s always a new area that the business needs, or a way you can be better – for me it’s anything around the area of growth of the business so (Marketing, Sales branding etc) but also personal growth as the better I am, the better my results will be.

Now I have a backlog of things I want to learn more about: Entrepreurship, fundraising, marketing, branding, personal branding, inbound marketing, visual learning, personal development – the list literally goes on and on. I’m looking forward to learning more about them.

3 – Growth

One of the few teachers in school that made a lasting impression on me in school was our English teacher called Mr McMonigal. He was a Robin Williams in ‘Good Will Hunting’ type of character: softly spoken, whose teaching style was to inspire us to learn rather than forcing us to (if only more were like this….).

On the final day of school he gave us one piece of advice which has always stayed with me (in fact its one of the few piece of advice I remember from 6 years in that school ;). His advice was:

‘Read, read, read’

For many years it didn’t quite sink in why he would have said this, but now it finally has.

And that’s what’s driving me to read 52 books in the next 52 weeks!

The rules

During the next 52 weeks I will have a few very simple rules

1 – One book a week

My week will run from Sun to Sat, finishing a book by Sat and picking a new one to begin on the Sunday

2 – Rereads allowed

Rereads allowed, as long as I had previously read then before 1st Jan 2015 (no rereads of same book in same year)

3 – Audiobook, Kindle books, ebooks, and online courses allowed

The format doesn’t really matter, so can be audiobook, ebook etc I’m also including online courses (through Udemy etc) as long as the latter is a minimum of 3 hours in length

4 – Book Length

Clearly if I choose War & Peace (or another crazy long book) it will near to impossible to read the entire book in a week. From my experience, most non fiction books tend to be 200 – 300 pages, so each week I’ll read a book ‘up to 300 pages’, if I choose a book longer than this I can use more than one week to read it, depending on the length of the book e.g. I can red a 500 page book over 2 weeks etc.

5 – Children’s books not allowed

Well that would be cheating wouldn’t it 😉

What could go wrong?

I see the only thing that can come between me and my achieving this goal is….me! As long as I’m motivated and priotise this, I can achieve it. No excuses.

As extra commitment, if I don’t achieve this goal I’ll donate £500 to charity on the 1st January 2016.

I’m all in!

How I’ll track them?

I plan to track what book I’m reading through my Goodreads account (feel free to follow me), which will also have a widget on this blog (watch this space).

I’ll also be tracking what I’m reading on this google doc, which you can all access (as if I take an online course, for example I wouldn’t be able to track it on Goodreads so I’ll use both). See what I’ve been reading so far here

See you in another ~50 weeks time where I’ll report how I’ve done J

What books do you think I should read in 2015? If you have any suggestions as to what I should be reading please leave them in the comments below

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4 Inspiring Entrepreneurial Speeches You Need to Know About http://www.startupremarkable.com/inspirational-entrepreneurial-speeches http://www.startupremarkable.com/inspirational-entrepreneurial-speeches#comments Sun, 07 Dec 2014 21:26:34 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=934 I had a Dream…. Martin Luther, Churchill, JFK – all were able to deliver speeches that inspired millions to take action. Public speaking is something I’m passionate about and when delivered correctly, can motivate and inspire you to take action, and do those extra sales calls/lines of code/hours in the office – even when your

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I had a Dream….

Martin Luther, Churchill, JFK – all were able to deliver speeches that inspired millions to take action.

Public speaking is something I’m passionate about and when delivered correctly, can motivate and inspire you to take action, and do those extra sales calls/lines of code/hours in the office – even when your morale is low.

In this post I list four speeches that I keep going back to when I’m looking for motivation and inspiration.

Some you may already know some of these, and some are hopefully is a first time for you. Either way – all are guaranteed to inspire. This is a short post, as I’ll leave the talking to the men and women in the speeches below

Neil Gaimen – Addresses the University of the Arts

Because sometime it’s hard to remember to enjoy the ride

Eric Thomas – Secrets to Success 

FOr pure motivation, nothing beats Eric Thomas’s famed speech. He gave it in a classroom but I like this version someone did with an athlete training even more.

JK Rowling – Harvard Commencement

One of the most powerful speeches on failure out there(particularly the first half of the speech).

Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement Speech

One speech that probably needs no introduction. Essential listening for all. Stay foolish…

Your Turn: Which of these speeches did you enjoy? Are there any other inspiration speeches we should know about? Please share them in the comments below

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Week Hacking – How to Plan your Week for Maximum Impact http://www.startupremarkable.com/week-hacking-how-to-plan-your-week-for-maximum-impact http://www.startupremarkable.com/week-hacking-how-to-plan-your-week-for-maximum-impact#comments Sat, 29 Nov 2014 12:10:24 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=928 The time was 4pm, if I wanted to get the train to go meet all my old classmates for the reunion I had to leave an hour ago. However I still had 2 hours work to do (and that was being optimistic) and I couldn’t leave until I have this piece of work shipped. I

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The time was 4pm, if I wanted to get the train to go meet all my old classmates for the reunion I had to leave an hour ago. However I still had 2 hours work to do (and that was being optimistic) and I couldn’t leave until I have this piece of work shipped. I did the inevitable and opened Facebook to send a group message to my classmates that I wasn’t going to be able to make it.

How did I let this happen? 

As a scatter gunned entrepreneur with borderline ADHD –  structure & focus is something I’ve struggled with most of my life (leading to an ex-g/f once nicknaming me a ‘magpie’ 😉

However being organised is super important, as an entrepreneur your single most important resource is time, and unless you’re organised – it’s impossible to be an effective and efficient with your time as possible.

So you could say being organised is vital to your success.

Hence – I’ve worked hard at developing a system to organise my week, so I focus on the right things and maintain balance and sanity in my life.

But it’s not been easy. Organisation and structure is not something that’s ever come naturally to me. As a predominantly left-brain kinda guy, I’ve had to work hard at it.

 In this post I’ll share that system.

Background to the System

I’ve studied & read many resources over the past years including David Allen’s Getting things done, 7 habits of highly effective people, Tim Ferris’s blog posts about productivity and talking to other successful people how they organise their time successfully. All highly recommended on your journey to be a productivity master :)

What you will learn:

In this post you will learn a method to organise your week so you’re focusing on the highest impact items for you. FYI I don’t cover longer term (yearly, quarterly, monthly etc) planning in this post, there’s lots of other great resurces out there that covers that

This method has given me a great sense of control and achievement. Although different people work in different ways, unless you have a set routine that really works for you – I would recommend trying this.

It works for me – since using this framework I now feel that it helps give me:

  • Focus to achieve the most important things for the week
  • Give a more balanced focus across all the important areas of my life (previously I was massively skewed to one area at a time e.g. one areas of my startup)
  • Gives me a a sense of control and allows me to track my progress

The Planning Strategy

There are two rituals that help me plan my week:

  • Weekly planning
  • Daily planning

The weekly plan

Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least – Goethe

The bulk of my weekly planning takes place on Sunday evening. It’s super important to start the week with a clear plan of what you need to achieve. Organising on a weekly basis provides much greater balance and context than daily planning

To plan my week I use this this weekly planning sheet, which I complete every Sunday evening.

Timesheet template final <–click here to download my week productivity template

Big thanks to Emma Jenkins, CMO of Conscious Me who showed me this idea to have a weekly planning sheet first, I’ve taken her weekly worksheet and built on it to personalise it to my planning style)

Define your roles

The first step is to define the different roles you have in life (note I say life, not just work). This step is inspired from the Steven Covey’s book ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ for which he states:

Help you keep balance in your life, to identify your various roles…so that you don’t neglect important areas such as your health, your family, professional preparation or personal development

My roles are as follows:

  • Co-founder of Adludio – this includes lots of business / director / fundraising tasks I may need to do
  • CMO – My core responsibilities to grow Adludio
  • Boyfriend – Stefie my girlfriend is my no.1 priority, so make sure I do things every week with her
  • Family – my family back in Ireland
  • Personal Development – P.D. is something I’m super passionate about
  • Personal – other ‘life admin’ that we all have to do

That’s it. I’ve found there isn’t anything that comes up that can’t fit into one of these roles. Your roles may be different but I would recommend to keep as few as possible and ensure there’s balance.

Define the priorities for each role

Then I write down the 3 most important things I need to accomplish in the week for each of these roles. Think: What 3 things if I accomplished this week for each role, I’d have had a great and fulfilling week?

The key is not to prioritise what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities – Steven Covey

Note: It’s super tempting to put in more than 3 in each area, but don’t. Three is the magic number to keep focused. Remember this is not a list of every task you need to do in the week, rather a list of your top priorities.

I then take my weekly planning sheet and write these priorities for each role in the space provide

week hacking plan

As you’ll see I won’t plan every day of the week hour by hour at the start of the week. Rather I’ll input events I know are defo happening (booked in meetings etc).

I then plan each day in detail the night before/morning of each day.

week hacking

 

Once I’m done, I fold over the week planning sheet twice (so A6 size), which then fits snugly into the back pocket of my Moleskine notebook – which I bring everywhere with me.

 

week hacking

The Daily Plan

My daily plan / ritual is something that I picked up from Tim Ferris, starting using about a year ago and has become an important prt of my daily morning routine ever since.

I sit down at my desk, before I turn on my computer or check any emails. And on the back of my weekly plan (see above), I write the following:

1) Three things that I’m grateful for in life

2) What three things if I do today, I will have had an incredible day

This works really well for me as it gives me an opportunity for short reflection at the start of the day, and then gives me focus on what three things are the most important for me to focus on each day.

I write these on the back of my weekly planning sheet. This means I have room for each day, without having to use up pages of my moleskine notebook

daily ritual

Once I’ve done this, I break down by day, hour by hour on the weekly plan, including meetings that I need to be at and other tasks I know I need to complete.

I find this works best to do the night before / or each morning (rather than do every day on Sunday evening) as I found that things can change during the week (meetings go in the diary etc) which throws everything out. Hence why I now plan each day’s timetable on the morning, but I know what list to pull from.

Overall this takes approx. 5 minutes.

Although I have a system that works for me at the present (which I’ll share in detail with you below), I see this as a constant work in progress as I continuously strive to become more effective. I sense this is a little like fitness – it’s a goal you continuously strive for without ever fully reaching the end point. And I guess that’s why it’s fun.

Take action

How do you schedule your week or day? Do you have any rituals you’d like to share? Please share them OR report back how you get on trying my system in the comments below

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2 Secret Ingredients to your Marketing Plan http://www.startupremarkable.com/2-secret-ingredients-to-your-marketing-plan http://www.startupremarkable.com/2-secret-ingredients-to-your-marketing-plan#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 19:59:30 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=922 This week I spoke to a super passionate crowd of people at Web Summit in Dublin about Growth Marketing. It was a highlight of the conference for me. When my talk finished a queue of eager entrepreneurs formed to come chat. Some to say thanks, some to add to a topic I had been covering,

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This week I spoke to a super passionate crowd of people at Web Summit in Dublin about Growth Marketing. It was a highlight of the conference for me.

When my talk finished a queue of eager entrepreneurs formed to come chat. Some to say thanks, some to add to a topic I had been covering, and most to ask questions about a marketing issue specific about their startup.

One question that comes up time and time again, whether at Web Summit or at any event when I meet startup founders, goes something like this:

–       Which is better, digital or traditional marketing?

–       I hear [insert new ad format that has just been covered on TechCunch and Wired] sounds awesome, should I try it?

–       Which is better for marketing, Facebook or Linkedin?

–       I’m about to do some marketing and going to start Facebook ads, what’s the best way to get good results?

Sound familiar? If you haven’t asked these questions your self, you’ve probably been at a meetup where someone has.

However people asking these questions, are usually thinking about things in the wrong order. In this post I’ll discuss the two most important questions you need to ask yourself, and have answers to, before you should even consider any of the above questions.

These are the 2 secret ingredients to a successful marketing plan.

And the good news is, when you ask yourself these two questions – the answers to the other questions generally take care of themselves.

Why this is important

Whether you’re a founder, or Head of Marketing/ startup CMO, growing your business is really hard, so making sure you have the right foundations in place is super important. Having these foundations is the core of having a marketing strategy.

What are not the two most important elements of your marketing strategy:

–       Value prop

–       A good product

–       USP

–       Key metrics to track

Yes, these are all super important but I’m assuming you already have these nailed and have product/market fit….therefore outside the scope of this post.

The 2 secret ingredients of your startup’s marketing plan:

These will sound super obvious but not having thought of these is the no.1 most common mistake I see startups make.

1)   What’s your Target Market?

Who is the target market your startup is addressing?

Most common answer I hear to this question? Everyone!

Wrong answer!

Let’s think about it: Is your target market my 84 year old Aunt who lives in the West of Ireland and doesn’t access the internet?

Is your target marketing my 5 year old nephew who started school this year?

If the answer to the above is no, then already your target market is by definition not everybody.

I would challenge you to keep your target market as hyper targeted as possible i.e. a specific sex, location and age range of around 5 years, profession etc

Why so targeted? Well let’s consider if your target age range is 18 – 35 year olds. Sounds reasonable right?

Well let’s think about this more: Do 18 year olds and 35 year olds buy, read and watch the same things? I’d argue that there’s quite a considerable difference in behaviour in people of these ages.

Also, give it a go bidding for a 35 year old and an 18 year old on Facebook ads. You’ll see a big difference in price per click.

Your marketing strategy will succeed if it’s the right message for the right people in the right place for the right price. The more hyper targeted you are, the higher the likelihood of you doing this successfully.  

Growing a startup is hard enough, don’t make it harder by targeting your marketing messages at the wrong people and then wonder why you’re not getting the results you’re expecting.

2) What are you trying to achieve?

Again, this is almost slap-forehead obvious, but most startups I speak to don’t do it.

The second essential element of your startup marketing plan is your OBJECTIVE

What are you trying to achieve?

Is it 5,000,000 users in 3 months? Is it 100 users in 3 months. One is not a better objective than the other per se, it all depends on your business and your situation.

This is super important as knowing what you need to achieve will change the way you even think about what marketing tactics/channels you should consider.

If you goal is 5,000,000 users, you have to think about things radically different than if it’s 250 users.

There’s a much cited acronym called SMART objectives, which you should follow when setting your objectives.

Example of a Bad objective (not using SMART): We want to grow really fast and be a successful startup

Good objective: We want to gain 250 paying users in the first 6 months

The challenge in goal setting is to make your objective a great challenge while also only borderline achievable. Make it too easy, and you won’t push yourself, make it too far out of reach and there’s a risk you’ll lose heart and give up. Make it uber ambitious and just out of reach

How to take action:

 Right now – list out your target market, and your objectives

These are the two more important elements of your startup marketing plan before you get started. Get them down and then you can begin building on what channels to use and get those users flowing in :)

Your turn:

Any other essential ingredients of a startup marketing plan you’d like to share? Please share them in the comments below

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David vs. Goliath – Startups pitching to the big guys http://www.startupremarkable.com/david-vs-goliath-startups-pitching-to-the-big-guys http://www.startupremarkable.com/david-vs-goliath-startups-pitching-to-the-big-guys#comments Sat, 05 Apr 2014 14:56:54 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=880 This article was originally published on Tech City News 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

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This article was originally published on Tech City News

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

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How to achieve positive ROI from a Conference (& be the best hustler in the room) http://www.startupremarkable.com/how-to-achieve-positive-roi-from-a-conference-be-the-best-hustler-in-the-room http://www.startupremarkable.com/how-to-achieve-positive-roi-from-a-conference-be-the-best-hustler-in-the-room#comments Sat, 29 Jun 2013 19:12:36 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=871 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,

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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.

Thanks
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.

Thanks
Howard

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:

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A Year in Review – and my Goals for 2013 http://www.startupremarkable.com/a-year-in-review-and-my-goals-for-2013 http://www.startupremarkable.com/a-year-in-review-and-my-goals-for-2013#comments Sun, 20 Jan 2013 13:46:27 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=819 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

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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

Result: SMASHED IT!

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!

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How to Grow a Fast Growth Startup http://www.startupremarkable.com/fast-growth-startup http://www.startupremarkable.com/fast-growth-startup#comments Tue, 16 Oct 2012 16:08:19 +0000 http://www.startupremarkable.com/?p=798 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

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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
Clarity
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

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