How to reach the right audience for your startup

"Try to make every lunch lead to a meeting with two new strangers" Lisa Enckell is a partner at Antler leading Marketing and PR. She shares how marketing for startups can be a challenge, but used right, the restrictions can be turned into a blessing.




The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

What is the biggest marketing challenge a young startup faces?

Startups simply don't have the big budget to run a huge marketing campaign. There is no way they can buy digital exposure or utilise expensive channels and agencies. However, this is also a blessing in disguise. A limited budget allows marketers to be more creative. As a startup with limited resources, you are forced to think out of the box and find alternative methods to get things done.

Marketing for startups may also be challenging when it comes to creating the right message for your product that's often very new and innovative. As a marketer at an early-stage startup it's your task to figure out how to best package and sell a brand new technology and service. It's important to position your product in the market in a way that's attractive for your target audience. It often takes a time before you get this right, so start testing your messages early with your potential customers and tweak it as you learn how they react to them.

What is the biggest asset to a young startup in this phase?

When you are starting out from scratch, the world doesn't have a preconceived notion of who you are. In that sense, you have nothing to lose! The best part of launching something new is that people tend to be more curious about new ventures - their interest is naturally piqued to begin with. Journalists are always excited about covering new ideas, so give them something to shout about. The opportunities for exposure can be very promising if you play your cards right.

What are some key learnings or takeaways from your experience which you would share with new entrepreneurs?

When I was at Wrapp, a rewards-based app out of Europe, we seemed to be doing great in terms of product-market fit. We were growing at 10 per cent weekly and we had 1 million users in a couple of months. The customer-user fit was great but it took us a long time to notice that the product-market fit on the supply side (our retailers) wasn't as great. We had what you could call a false product-market fit and I've seen that with more companies. It's important to really understand your numbers and the motivations of your customers and to try to spot early whether you're on the right path and why you are on that path. Ultimately at Wrapp, we had to do a big product pivot and we could've saved a lot of time and money if we had spotted this false product-market fit earlier.

In terms of finding "real" product-market fit, remember that it's not only the product you'll have to tweak until you reach it. It is also the messaging around it and what kind of customers you're targeting. Many times, startups are too focused on changing their product and forget that they could take the same product and test it in different markets. Exploring different markets and target audiences with your product is always a good idea, who your ideal customer is may surprise you.

What are some skills you would suggest budding entrepreneurs bring to the table as new marketers?

As an entrepreneur, you should be naturally curious, and this should be a two-fold effort. Firstly, go out there and talk to potential customers and get valuable feedback. Secondly, once you build your base, use your data to gather insights. Analyse these numbers and find key trends, patterns and find the story that's behind them. You can always dig deeper into your data to unfold hidden trends.

You also need to run fast. A lot of people are great at research but often get  stuck with half baked strategies. Be a doer, pick up the phone, send that email and meet that person for lunch. Try to make every lunch lead to a meeting with two new strangers, build your contacts. You will be surprised of the amount of people willing to help you along the way.

You have worked in improv theatre before. Has this experience helped the work you do today?

It definitely has. Most startups improvise a great deal. The more restrictions you have, the easier it is to perform. If you are asked to improvise without speaking or using your hands, the performance actually becomes easier for the artist and the audience can't praise you enough.

The same rules apply to startups, the limitations help promote creativity. The fewer resources can be a true gift. Improv also taught me to change and adapt quickly to situations. Teamwork is also key to good improv and no startup can be successful without collaboration. It doesn't matter what role you're hired for in a startups, you all get to wear a lot of different hats and work on a variety of task, that's what's really fun and rewarding.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
5 min read
The 2022 Benelux Unicorn Founder Roadmap: How to build unicorns in Benelux

As everyone anticipates the next wave of ultra-successful companies in Benelux, what does it take to get there? What do the successful founders of Benelux unicorns look like? This report is an in-depth look at the Benelux startup ecosystem and its brightest stars. And above all, it is for anyone who is helping build the next 50 unicorns in Benelux.

5 min read
The Angle: Why the long-term view is the hard but right one

The Angle is a new content series from Antler, featuring perspectives from our team members on the biggest events and trends impacting founders and early-stage investors today. Every article is that person's unique angle on a hot topic—what they see from their vantage point in one of our 25 offices around the globe—not Antler's stance. In our first edition, Jeff Becker draws lessons from the demise of FTX and turbulent tech moments in recent years. This article first appeared in Jeff's Monday Morning Meeting on Substack.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Jamie Bubb: The tech marketing venture developer connecting brands and content creators

Our new content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering wtih around the world. In our second spotlight, we sat down with Jamie Bubb, co-founder of Twirl, a remote content studio powered by top-quality creators that helps brands scale their content engines rapidly and cost-effectively.

5 min read
Venture investing in the downturn

We are living two simultaneous realities: the uncertainty of the current downturn and the unstoppable wave of innovation disrupting every industry. Against this backdrop, Antler's Kevin Brennan shares perspectives on assessing your position in venture capital for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. Might 2023 be the best vintage for the coming decade?

Founder Stories
5 min read
Emilia Theye: The psychologist using AI to democratize access to mental health solutions

Antler was founded on the belief that people innovating is the key to building a better future. To honor them, we are launching a new content series—”It All Starts with People”—spotlighting the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Each story is a window into their passions, motivations, and vision—the reasons they are building and the positive dent they are aiming to make on the world.

In our first spotlight, we sat down with Emilia Theye, the co-founder of clare&me—a mental health app that uses language-based AI to develop an innovative approach to virtual self-help.

5 min read
Backing founders from day zero to greatness

Today we are sharing our new brand that reflects that commitment and the reason Antler exists: to stand behind our founders from day zero and to keep backing them on their paths to greatness.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Seven ways founders can prioritize mental well-being as they build

Founders are the life force of the startup ecosystem. They give their all, betting on their seemingly “crazy” convictions and executing on abstract ideas that can potentially make our lives and work easier, faster, healthier, and better optimized.

But sometimes they do this to the detriment of their health. Being a founder means being beholden to customers, employees, and investors while balancing personal life. Often founders trade their stable, well-paying jobs to prioritize the restless inquisitivity of their mind. In the quest to answer the question “what if?”, they sometimes sacrifice their mental and physical health, only realizing the effects on their state of mind once they have impacted their ability to function as a leader. We have also seen how the mental pressure on founders can cause distress to those who depend on them for their livelihood and direction.

5 min read
A fresh take on early-stage VC: Harvard Business School publishes a case study on Antler

Harvard Business School (HBS) recently published a case study about Antler’s fresh approach to early-stage venture capital. Antler Co-Founder Fridtjof Berge shares thoughts on how the case sparks discussion about the best ways to identify and support great people anywhere on earth.