Reading about Growth Hacking — the new buzz topic in the startup world — made me think about how we all practice this skill every day.
For a year as a startup founder, I’ve Growth Hacked myself from knowing something to knowing nothing and finally— the other way around.
First slap on the face was when I realized that what I’ve learned at Uni will help me very little in the “real world”. I graduated the fancy-sounding program of International Sales and Marketing Management. So I learned a bit of everything and very little of something. My startup wasn’t an expanding company, a multi-layered product and a sales team seeking to qualify leads into potential buyers, my startup was an idea! That’s it. I had to start from scratch.
Step 1: I Growth Hacked myself to understand Product Development and sank deep into the Pixel-perfect xcoded world of App Development.
An idea doesn’t need Marketing, it needs Execution. Leveraging on my team’s skills — Interaction design, iOS dev and Graphic design, I became the helper in need, the one that knew nothing on the matter but would find the answer within 24h. So I rigorously browsed Dribbble for design ideas, Cocoa Controls for interactions, made pathetic mock-ups on Photoshop and even spotted small bugs in Kasper’s xcode. (A one time miracle, but still — give me some credit! :D).
Second stage was not any easier — we had the product that needed to be explained, communicated and sold to the world. But unlike being in a company solving one piece of the puzzle, we had to create the whole Value Chain and take care of each stage.
Step 2: I Growth Hacked myself to copy write, handle iTunesConnect and produce brain-fart videos with the team
Mostly I was frustrated over the copy write and I had to do it all the time — for the app, for the AppStore, the website, emails etc. I was failing at it so badly — it sounded stiff and corporate, it sounded rude and cold, it sounded…bad! F#@k it! But then I hacked my way through it — I had to! I took it task by task and spent couple of hours researching each topic thoroughly— Best practices for AppStore description, Emails that convert etc. At the end I managed the tasks pretty decently and we moved on…to partying:
After the app release, we entered the phase of “One ring (data) to rule them all (decisions)”. Suddenly my life turned into a constant class in Statistics with the big twist being — it was super-exiting! It still is! Mixpanel, Localytics, App Annie — I’m refreshing and calculating on them all day long.
Step 3: I Growth Hacked myself to understand Why is everyone so crazy about data-driven startups.
Now this was supposed to throw me the furthest away from any comfort zone but instead I discovered a new passion — data-driven decisions. We would have an idea for a cool new feature, we’ll look into the parameters of importance — retention, virality, revenue; we’ll dissect the idea into smaller elements and features; we’ll cut out the beautifiers and keep it to the smartest MVP to test our hypothesis. We’ll review results and build on further. The Lean-methodology at its best! And here’s a confession to make — I never even got to read the book by Eric Ries. I was too busy acting on it. Hope you’ll forgive this…
I did and I do face challenges every day. I face myself and my limitations. My super me will be able to code, copy write, brand and market all at once.
Until then — I Growth Hack myself! Every day, bit by bit, topic by topic.
About the Author:
Yana Vlatchkova works in Marketing and Business Development. She is the co-founder of Swipes, building a community and a great tool for High Achievers. She’s also blogging on Medium and sharing her experiences of turning into a Jack of All Trades in a bootstrapped business.