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Zero to hero #1

Growing a startup...the hard, but fun way

When we launched Mitingu, our online event registration and communications platform in January 2015, we were all super enthusiastic (we still are) about what we had created and how it could bring something new to the business events market.

There could even have been an element of "if you build it they will come" in the way we were thinking. Lesson 1 - that just doesn't happen if nobody knows about it!

We quickly realised that without money to support ongoing marketing communication programmes that you've got to do it the hard way and utilise the resources that you've already got.

There's a balancing act too. It's important to develop your product or service to a state where it's usable and sellable, but you need to tell people about it too. At Mitingu, the only investment we've had has come out of our own pockets, so we've had to manage funds really carefully. At this point, it's worth saying that we have gone out and found other income streams whilst we build Mitingu so that we can pay our mortgages and feed our families...there's no shame in that.

I'll get to the point!

I have decided to share our experiences in growing our start up, including all the high and low points from today. Here goes...

Our first target - £20k per month revenue by march 2016

How we get there and what we've learnt so far

We have a great product, we know that from user feedback. We just need to get it in front of more people.

We've tried a number of different marketing channels and I am convinced that a combination of them all is the way forward. I've read lots of stories about people no longer doing any outbound activities and getting plenty of business coming in via the social media channels. I take my hat off to them. In our case, it's definitely a combination of getting a consistent message out there and staying active to keep the pipeline growing. The best bit of advice I was ever given in my early sales days was to keep activity levels high and success will come.

Here's what we've used so far...

Emails - do your research and send out personalised emails which show the recipient you have taken the time to look at their business and tailor your message to show how your product or service can help them and their business. Talk about them, not you.

Blog - Blogging is new to me, but it definitely works. Don't expect a huge following or response overnight, but keep posting relevant and interesting stuff in tune with your market and you'll start to see some growth.

Ads - We've used Google Ads and Twitter Ads and we're going to give LinkedIn and Facebook a try. Google Ads are great, but if you're in a competitive market like us, they can get pricey. Make sure you've got your strategy right and keep a close eye on what's working and refine where necessary. Twitter Ads are more affordable and have shown some really encouraging results so far.

Networking - It can be pretty daunting walking into a room full of people you've never met before. This is something we're just about to start, so I'll feedback soon. It's one of the best ways to get your story out there, so bite the bullet and go for it. The few events I have attended so far have resulted in leads and actual business, so I am sold on it.

Demos - Selling the demo and not the product or service has also been a good route for us. There is no hard sell and if you've done your homework, then your prospect has a real need for your product or service and if you tailor the demo to that requirement then you'll win more than you lose.

Social media - We've focussed on Twitter and have seen some promising results. It has taken time to build the right following, but it's something we will be sticking with. LinkedIn is also something we plan to ramp up as it's one of the first places people in business refer to.

Those are just some methods we've used so far. We've also have some great referrals, face to face meetings, but the point here is to use what's available to you without spending money you don't necessarily have.

We'll keep this transparent, so at the end of the month I'll put up where we are against our target and what has worked for us and what hasn't.

Have a great month.