GaP->GaS #7: Problem solving never felt so good!

So we were at it again at Google’s Campus London on Tuesday night; and this time, things got a little…how can I put it…personal! Don’t blame me, blame dating apps! It’s their time, and they seem to be the hottest topic of convo in start-up land right now! Read on to find out more.

Our 7th iteration of GaP->GaS was the perfect way to shake off any bank holiday start-up blues; coming together at Campus and opening up about the issues we’re all experiencing as we get ready to launch, scale, pivot, monetise, market, manage or bootstrap our latest ventures.

As usual we had a full house, and as usual we began with a little bit of news for our members about developments at Hipsters, Hackers & Hustlers HQ. We’ve pivoted a little, and we’re expanding the number and type of events we run; more info will follow, so stay tuned, but in the meantime keep an eye for news about these 3 events; we’ll be launching our inaugural start-up ski trip in the coming months; shortly after we’ll be announcing details of a similar style trip, destination the Carribean; and, “Techtoberfest” will be your opportunity to combine a Bavarian beer festival with a start-up summit. What could possibly go wrong?! Oh yes, and while we’re throwing wacky yet surprisingly productive ideas around, how about pitching on a rollercoaster? Details to follow; don’t thank us, guys, you have earned it!

Back to Campus, then, and the audience’s problem solving skills were really put to the test on Tuesday night in ways that nobody could have ever predicted. Find out why and how in just one short paragraph’s time, but first we had the pleasure of hearing from marketing expert Rebecca Cabo; softly spoken, but with an immaculate presentation style, Rebecca spoke more sense in 10 minutes than most “marketing guru / evangelists” talk in a year of employment!

To paraphrase the best I can, marketing is all about the 4 P’s; Product, Price, Place, & Promotion; you need to know who your customer is, what exactly it is they need, how much they will pay for it, and where they will go to buy it. Of the 4, price is the biggest determinant of success; get this right and you are well on your way; understand why your competitors charge what they do, and don’t stray too far from the competition. Finally, promote in one of 4 ways; ads, PR, promotions, or social media!

And there you were thinking marketing was your biggest problem. Don’t thank us, thank Rebecca. Well, maybe thank us a little bit too, but remember HHH’ers, we’re all in this together!

So, we promised you dating sites; first on the HHH couch was Juliette, founder of Pink Lobster Dating, a lesbian dating site targeting “lipstick lesbians” only. Juliette says she’s tempted, taking into account the feedback she has received, to hire a “lipstick lesbian” only Dev team; she feels it would be disingenuous to hire anybody else.

The first piece of advice from our audience to Juliette is that her plan is kind of against the law, as it is discriminating against people based on their appearance and sexual preferences. A good point well made: “attributes and skills are more important than beliefs”, one audience member chipped in, “its what’s inside that counts!” We agree, but we see what Juliette is trying to do here.  “There’s so few top drawer Devs out there, why make it even harder to find one by introducing such a strict hiring policy”, another audience member wanted to know. Andrew L put it best; if your Devs don’t happen to be gay themselves, doesn’t mean they don’t have friends or family members that are, or that they are incapable of understanding the scene; they might even help improve it.

Elena Corchero was next on stage, she has created a toy for kids, a little fluffy owl, no less, that helps kids learn to code, by enabling them to program the owl’s eyes to light up when its ears touch…Bless! But seriously, how can Elena boost her sales, particularly on Amazon; how can she make the product easier to find?

“Get the product into physical stores”, was the first response, and not necessarily because that is where customers will buy them, but because that is where they can familiarise themselves with the goods. Then, most probably, look them up on Amazon and buy them there (truly we live in strange / changed times!)

You need to engage with girls (or boys, no sexism at HHH!) at a young age that are enthusiastic about tech, and the best place to do that is to look at STEM products or courses, target the #techmums group, or send free samples of your products to schools or places where adults can easily find them and understand the benefit they bring. Sage words.

(Aside: what always impresses me at our HHH GaP->GaS meet-ups is the detail that our audience members go into with their answers; these guys are experts! If you come to one of our events and do not find somebody who has done what you are trying to do, or similar, who can give you constructive and time saving, maybe even start-up saving advice, then I will personally stand you a drink at the Blueberry bar, our new post event hangout, where drinks are sold at happy hour prices to anybody wearing an HHH badge! If I can remember where I hid my wallet.)

Next up another dating app! The new Tinder? This founder wanted to know what appeals to their target audience of 25-40 year olds looking for romance. Erm, anything but Tinder?! “Go to France, and target married folk” was one answer (vulgar and a touch stereotyped, ahem, tsk, etc), “listen to your audience, stop asking so many questions and trying to defend your strategy”, said another (sensible), find a USP, or read the book everything I needed to know about economics, I learned from dating sites”, was one plucky observer’s advice.

Folks, Tuesday was our busiest GaP->GaS yet, there’s not time to talk about everybody here, so here’s a quick rundown of the issues, and solutions, that followed:

Michael needed help marketing his overseas web development agency Amsterdam Standard; one audience member, who runs a digital agency, had the perfect answer. Make samples of work available; historical code snippets, components, libraries etc. which showcase how skilled your Devs are. Referrals and free trials were also recommended.

David was building a classic football manager site, with masses of stats, but real money at stake. How should he begin his market push? “At stadiums, and if you are going to “do” a launch, make it a big one, no expenses spared”, was the recommendation.

Ian at Bluebird Ventures was creating an app that helps break down complex decision making processes. How can he find a marketing team, and how much should he spend. “Don’t approach a marketing agency and ask them how much you should spend; you should work it out yourself before you approach anybody”, was one helpful answer.

Finally, Lance is launching a site for tourists to find cultural events either relevant to them or to local inhabitants; Lance has been to Muslim meet-ups, Hindu, Christian, Heavy Metal and, well…you name it, he’s been along. You know what, I liked his idea so much I found myself volunteering to mentor Lance!

So there you have it, even wily old pros like me get carried away at GaP->GaS! Come and join us at the next one on June 8th, or pitch at our next Co-founder dating evening the day after.

I’ve been GaS-ing on too long anyway, I didn’t even have time to tell you about our amazing new interactive message board, which helps the shy ones amongst you HHH’ers give your feedback too at our events. Oh well, there’s always next time,

Ta ta for now

Rob

 

 

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