12 founders share their top growth hacking tips for early-stage startups

From inventive ways to leverage your network, to forming strategic partnerships, and more.

anjali-warrier

Author

Anjali Warrier

In the early stages of building a startup, founders have to wear many hats as they develop their MVP, diversify customer acquisition channels or try and build brand recognition in the market, and often they have to do this with limited to no resources and very little capital.

This is where growth hacking begins to play a role. These are strategies that help early-stage startups grow and retain an active user base, sell products, and gain exposure through specific marketing activities. This can be particularly effective if your business is looking to attract investor funding and you, as a founder, want to demonstrate demand and traction.

With this in mind, we asked the founders of 12 of Antler Australia's portfolio companies to share their best growth hacking tips and tricks.

Here's what they had to say.

Leverage your network

With a number of untapped opportunities to validate your product, receive feedback from genuine users and secure your first customers, many founders are sharing why your network is crucial to growth hacking and how you can wield its power.

Koverd's CEO and co-founder, Fabrizia Roberto, says to make the most out of joining forums and social media groups that reflect your customers' interests.

"Before launching your product, there's you and a vision, says Roberto. It's essential for the founders to be true brand ambassadors and express their passion and belief in the product before it's even available for people to interact with. Your personal and professional network will be drawn to that and they will be your first customers. Start to put your product out there as a credible solution to some of the problems they experience. Make the most of those interactions and ask for candid feedback to keep improving."

EduTech startup Abrility's CEO and co-founder, Nina Hooper, also agrees saying that Facebook community groups are the most effective way to gather customers.

"You can't be 'salesey' in those groups, so you have to present ideas as if you're asking for feedback, but the goal is to get people to comment saying they want the thing you're asking for advice about", she says. "Then, you can direct message them and they'll be really responsive."

It's essential for the founders to be true ambassadors and express their passion and belief in the product.

— FABRIZIA ROBERTO, CO-FOUNDER OF KOVERD

Mark Allen, CEO and co-founder of Patch, said growth hacking is to find out where your audience spends their time and be present there.

"When you participate in a community, provide insight and value, you align yourself with early users who become brand advocates and some of your first, authentic users who will give you honest feedback", says Allen.

Ramin Shams, CTO and co-founder of Classnika, a startup focusing on reimagining virtual learning, built on Allen's comment stressing the importance of network in validating your idea pre-launch.

"Identify the target audience with as much specificity as possible, reach out to people in your professional and personal network who are in that category, and get constant feedback through the process to polish implementation", he says.

StoryTiling's CEO and co-founder, Aliaa Remtilla, suggests finding ambassadors for your product in your existing contact list.

As a B2C product, StoryTiling is for everyone, which means that distant cousins and former work colleagues are all our customers, as are their personal networks. "By simply sending notes to people we knew, news about StoryTiling took off", says Remtilla.

Fabrizia Roberto co-founder of Koverd having a discussion with Koverd sign in the background

Think strategically

When it comes to growth hacking, Savion Aerospace's CEO and co-founder, Jonathan Gibbs, believes the key lies in attracting key strategic and government investment through our pragmatic vision for a sustainable aviation industry.

"Assembling an organisation with an inclusive culture that empowers problem solvers, having a sound certification strategy driven by smart requirements, and regularly validating demand to ensure our product does not drift from and aligns with customer needs", says Gibbs.

Similarly, CEO and co-founder of HealthTech startup, Sahha, Doug MacDonald suggests taking a strategic approach, saying that if you can, create a category, define it and own it. That way, you can position yourself as the best solution.

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