The 10-Step Formula Startup Founders Use To Pitch Investors

The best tech startups build great products that solve real problems. These startups are also excellent at communicating the value of their products, both to investors and their target market.

Communicating the value to investors, specifically in your pitch deck, is crucial. The problem is making a pitch deck is one of the most frustrating processes on the planet, even if you like doing it. Having a communication formula will save you a lot of time.

One of the most successful startups of all time is Airbnb. Pitchenvy features the Airbnb pitch deck. The formula Airbnb uses to make their case can be applied to a variety of situations where you need to be persuasive. It goes like this:

1. Identify the problem.
This is where you make your audience care. Why should investors in the crowd want to pay attention to the rest of your presentation? This slide is easy if you build a product that solves a real problem. It sounds logical, but you’d be amazed how often it is done in reverse-order i.e. products get built, then the pitch wastes time trying to convince the audience that there is a problem.

What are you doing for me?

When you communicate with customers, that’s what you ought to be answering. No one cares about anything else.

I try to remind myself this. If we send an email to customers, it better tell them what we’re doing for them.

Here’s two good examples I found after going through the first 50 new emails in my inbox.

Trello Working For



How to Market to the iGeneration

Marketers are still figuring out how to market to millennials. This article will likely cause some unnecessary sweating. Based on HBR’s recommendations, I don’t think there’s much to worry about. Be transparent. Be personal. Be social.

The iGeneration is here – now. They’re graduating from high school and college and entering the workplace. They have incredible purchasing power. They’re voting and making important decisions, taking a stand in society, and contributing to the economy. To reach iGens, we need to be transparent, personal, and overly social. Marketers either change the way they communicate with this generation of digital natives, or iGens will move on to brands that do.

Source: How to Market to the iGeneration – HBR

Why content marketers should be inspired by Tupac Shakur

If you’re in the business of creating and marketing content — and most people businesses are to some extent — then sometimes you need some inspiration. I am going to show you how one of my favorite rappers of all time, Tupac Shakur, can inspire you to create and share fearlessly.

Tupac Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was a content creating machine. Ten posthumous original 2Pac albums were released after Tupac’s death in 1996. All of them featured original songs. All of them went platinum.

This was possible because of Tupac’s legendary work ethic. I created a short video to highlight Tupac’s hard working ways.

App Marketing Keeps Getting Harder

Last year I published a post about the challenges you face marketing mobile apps. Not much has changed. There’s still plenty of challenges

Erin Griffith (@eringriffith) published an article last month that echoes some of those observations, but with new data. Griffith cites a report from Adjust that indicates about 80% live in total obscurity. I did some digging, and found the blog post with the data.

The chart below shows how an increasing number of apps are zombies. I like Zombie rate as a metric, btw. To make a long story short, it’s hard out here for app marketers. But if you have a great product that adds value to people, you shouldn’t let that discourage you.

App Marketing Chart

Growth Hackers: Here’s 3 Reasons To Drop ‘Hacker’ From Your Title

Do you call yourself a growth hacker? Those of us who work at startups know at least one person who has ‘growth hacker’ as their job title on LinkedIn. I want to make a case for why ‘growth hackers’ ought to find a better way to describe what they do. More specifically, drop the ‘hacker’ from your title.

Growth Hackers Chart

Before I begin, you should know that I am a ‘growth hacker’. I was a growth hacker before Sean Ellis coined the term in 2008.

Here’s the proof: I started a blog in 2008 that made the WordPress ‘top 100’ in less than 8 months. From 2010 to 2011, organic traffic increased 236%. When it was all said and done, I built an audience of 160,000 unique monthly readers without a marketing budget.

Instead, I used legitimate growth hacks to quickly grow readership, a social media following and build an email list with thousands of subscribers.

There’s plenty more I could share about my own ‘growth hacking’ accomplishments, but that’s not the point of this post.

My point is that even though I identify with the growth hacking community, I would never want to be described as a growth hacker.

1. The word ‘hacker’ has a negative connotation to just about everybody.

When the majority of the general public hears the word hacker, they think about credit card scams or celebrity photo leaks.

It sounds sketchy because 99.9% of the time ‘hacker’ is used to describe something negative.

The definition of the word Hacker

2. To describe our accomplishments as ‘growth hacks’ marginalizes what we do.

Getting 20,000 people to sign-up for your email list is an impressive feat.

Getting 17,000+ to visit a brand new blog takes serious skill.

Calling things like this ‘growth hacks’ makes it sound like it was a magic trick.

Also, the word ‘hack’ carries the same negative connotation as ‘hacker’. When you play golf, is it a good thing if you ‘hack’ your shot? If you are a professional writer, is it a compliment when someone calls you a hack?

Golf Hacks

3. Describing growth experts as growth hackers makes it harder to legitimize the skill-set.

It’s hard work legitimizing a new form of marketing. There is always a small percentage of professionals who give the profession a bad name. Public relations executives still have to fight the perception that PR is professional truth-spinning. Similarly, SEO professionals are dealing with the negative connotations the word ‘SEO’ carries thanks to ‘black hat’ SEO practitioners.

Growth hackers are going to face the same perception battle as PR and SEO, but are setting themselves up to have to fight harder because of the inherently negative connotation that the term ‘growth hacker’ carries.

Growth hackers are cutting-edge marketing professionals who find innovative ways to achieve meaningful results. What they (we) do is cool. It’s important. But we ought to take our own advice about A/B testing and split test the title ‘growth hacker’ vs. another, more positive sounding job title. See what the average salaries are for the different job titles? It’s just a start.

What do you think of the term growth hacker? Please share some ideas for new ways to refer to growth hacking in the comments.