If you are a new startup in Silicon Valley or working out of your garage and hoping to make it big then you better have a lot of hustle in you. Today’s world is competitive if you haven’t figured that out already. You need to be waking up and executing and hustling till it’s time for bed. You probably have hundreds of questions on how you get funded and everyone is looking for the same thing. I am not an Angel investor nor a VC partner so I can’t speak to that side of things, but I know where to look and how to get a little popular.
You honestly need an app that has something different or better than what is already out there. If you are solving problems that no one has, then you are trying to create a problem and are already dead. Look at the top apps like Uber and you can see that there was a problem. Taxi’s cost a lot of money and you don’t know which ones are good. These apps target people that just want a ride at a reasonable cost and they can rate their experience after the pickup and drop off. That solves a huge problem around the globe and disrupted everything.
I came across a group that reached out to me years ago called the Startup Study Group and they are on Slack and other places too. They have a ton of heavy hitters in their community to include VC’s and they discuss everything. I mean everything! They also look for potential winners in the crowd, ways to support each other, and make things like this topic easier. It’s probably the largest way to start winning before anything else I will recommend below. The top funders, bloggers, and creators in one place at the SSG. Thanks to Charles Jo for making it and growing it beyond anyone’s expectations.
Funding & Investment
It’s all about the money. Lot’s of money is often what it takes to gain traction. Angel investors and VC’s can be picky and they want lot’s of information, research, and time to see if you are worth putting money into. They have pitches all day long from people like you. Luckily, there is another way to skip the rich investors and focus towards a crowdfunding campaign. You can only do this if you have an idea and rewards that connect with people. I have found that the success is heavily weighed by the visual appeal of the pitch. This includes video, the heartstrings pulls, images or even audio.
You have everything from Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, GoFundMe and many other crowdfunding platforms to choose from. Each platform has different target audience and niches that get more attention than others. You need to research the platform you choose to include their past funding successes, and your pitch that will resonate with the wallets of their members.
Create a great video for your cause with copy that makes people want to give you money, and goals that reward them well for doing so. Getting funded continues to become harder and harder as more people bring out new ideas for people to fund all the time. This is just one way to avoid the Silicon funding rounds. It’s truly a battle in getting financed and too many people think it’s easy because they watched Shark Tank on TV.
You don’t need Silicon Valley connections. You just need an amazing app that fixes a problem for people. People have to want your idea first, and then you can get busy making a complete sales package for everyone people. Get noticed, and build a website with lots of well written content and share it everywhere. Ask people to promote your offering along with finding additional ways to get backed and eventually roll out a beta. There is still plenty of room to find the money or build your dream after you pull a shift at the diner at your 9-5.
Reviews From Influencers
Do you have a following on social media? On Twitter, Facebook, G+, or even YouTube? If the answer is no, then you need to find someone with reach and influence that will pump up their audience in your favor. Reaching out to them will cost you, but it’s faster that building a brand from zero. You need a budget because reaching out to influencers will cost you various amounts depending on the platform, niche, and popularity of the person you want to blast you out to their fans.
While this falls into the money category, it is possible to get influencers talking about you for free. You might have to do some radical things for it to happen, but that’s how the real world works. I would say that taking the time to breakdown someone like Donald Trump and how he tweets might be a great case study that many have already done. If it’s out there please go and read it after finishing this and leaving a comment. Maybe this is something I will tackle in detail in the near future.
Seriously, he got more air time in 2016 from tweets than anything else. Of course, they were divisive in nature and there was always a negative and positive reaction. If you can become the president of the United States by putting social media in your holster then I think it’s a great place to consider growing.
Now, if you can grab some free influence from friends or even creating viral discourse will help you to leverage those people and hopefully spread your app/company even further. People and the companies they run will react to different types of interactions. How you decide to swing this is completely up to you and your partners if you have them. Be wise and calculated, otherwise, you will just look like a mess and eventually fall out of popularity. Go your own way or the Trump way…
Traffic and followers don’t come easy. Either you go viral, or you build the audience how you see fit over time. Your odds depend on what you have already, and of course, you are either going to spend time or money.
Buying Cheap Ads or Affiliate Opportunities
Have you ever listened to a podcast and the host(s) starts reading a Squarespace ad, or some other company like that? Companies like this offer value in return for people who signup. This is also known as generating leads. One way they can do this is by using an affiliate program and it’s easy. You can build a WordPress site and buy some plugin for managing an affiliate program. People or companies can then create an account to have oversight on their earnings. This is a fairly common tactic and you can pay just for the traffic that converts into a sale or donation. Many people want to make money online and at home in their underwear if possible.
Maybe an affiliate program isn’t in the cards to get the name out there. Perhaps building a crowdfunding round is not in the cards either. Don’t worry, there is always another opportunity to get out there. You will have to either spend lots of time looking for the right places to put your name on, hire a company that can do it for you, or find cheaper solutions just by searching Google. Let’s talk about cheap ads.
Your app can also just advertise on cheap media outlets like social media, low-traffic blogs and even podcasts. Most will add you to their site for a few dollars a month or read your pitch in their recordings. Sure, you have to manage the budget and find the biggest bang for your buck…but it is an option. You could also ask for a review from a smaller blogger and see where it gets you. You never know how the smaller outlets will come together to give you a huge win. If anything, you just need your name out there so people see you actually have something before they invest or take you serious, and hopefully, share your app or idea with their connections.
Set Real Expectation
I hate telling people this, but sometimes all the advice in the world isn’t enough to get you through the execution phase. You have to calculate your budget, find your audience, and solve a real problem. All the coding in the world is not going to help you reach the levels that matter. Create that buzz so people become interested and curious. This can lead to massive wins and people wanting to be a part of your project.
If nothing above helps or is possible, then hire a professional SEO company and go for it. Remember, they are expensive so either you learn how to do it from nothing, learn guerilla marketing, or pay them for the publicity. No matter which road you take I truly hope you can roll out in style and have people interested and on your team!