I am Simon. I am the co-founder of Founder—a local startup studio located in Copenhagen. I have started five companies over the past 2-2,5 years. I am also the co-founder of a company called GoBox. What I want to tell you today is a story about how we found our way in the dark, which we have experienced is the key issue when doing marketing experiments and reaching that phase where you are doing growth hacking. We have realized that you can’t growth-hack out of the air, you need to work hard. During that process, we found our way towards some type of tool, and that’s the tool I want to tell you about today.
It all started with GoBox. We had a situation when we started GoBox, where we were doing multiple marketing experiments. We were doing many types of things. We soon realized that—that brought along a complication of having too many opportunities, not having experience with that exact business model, at the exact time, on that exact market. Hence, you can’t say “Since this works here, we can use it here as well.” It’s always a new situation that you are in. That came up with an outcome that was not being aware of the metrics to be tracked. We didn’t have any alignment about time/cost in regards to expected results. We are also not really able to learn from each other with the setup we had and learn from the things that we were doing.
We were wandering around in the dark. It makes sense even when starting a company or in its later stages when you are exploring a new market—you are wandering around in the dark and you are really trying to find your light in terms of seeing the road ahead of you. What we really needed was some light and some direction. We needed a structure and a process. That process should hopefully bring us some of the tactics. Or, by using that process, we should be able to execute more efficiently the marketing experiments in order for us to reach traction at some point. It came back to three key elements that brought us in the right direction. That was that we started to look over the shoulder of our CTO and one of our developers and the process management tools that they were using, in terms of aligning their tasks, giving it a time frame, and putting some kind of expectation on it. We were reading a bunch of different blogs trying to learn as much as possible from people who have been doing this for a longer time than we have. Bulls-Eye Framework was really inspirational for us.
We were really hooked on this one, to have a hypothesis-driven approach, in order for us to always have a starting point instead of just doing something. Where we ended up was in what we call “Founder’s Growth Machine.” It is basically a tool that helped to shed some light on the road ahead of us. It’s a tool that is based on three pillars, which are: the Backlog, Experiment Document, and the Pipeline.
Backlog is a list of all our ideas. At the beginning of GoBox, we had many different ideas and often found ourselves acting on these ideas too fast. Then we didn’t really stop and think, because we wanted to act on those ideas really quickly. Backlog is a list of ideas that are defined by their expected results, time to be used, and the costs involved. You force yourself to sit down and put these things in. Sometimes it’s going to be by putting a finger into the air and that’s fine, but at least you have thought about this. In the end, these different ideas and experiment, to make it easier and simpler, we have chosen to place them in different sections—on acquisitions, awareness, and then other.
Experiment Document. The next step in the Founder’s Growth Machine is to look at your Backlog and then consider, maybe based on something you’ve done before, which of these ideas based on the expected time, cost, and expected results—which ones to promote to the pipeline. Before that, we found ourselves writing a purpose on why we were doing this and a hypothesis of what we are getting out of this. It’s just half a page which takes you 10 minutes max. This gives you time to sit down and think about this. It’s really amazing and it’s really powerful to write things down.
Pipeline. And then, if a certain decision/experiment is agreed by the team, then we put it into the pipeline. It’s basically tracked on the result, time, and cost. This is all about, which I think is the key element when doing marketing experiments or doing anything related to a startup—that is to understand the ‘why.’ Because then we can act on it the next time. I don’t really care if it’s a failure or a success as long as we understand why. That’s, of course, the combination of the pipeline with the experiment document. We found ourselves in this situation of actually starting to use this tool. We have been using it for nine months. We have weekly Growth Machine meetings. We look at our Backlog of what do we have in there. We look at our Pipeline and if anything needs to be promoted, the Experiment Documents are presented and we go through them and discuss. It’s also a way of working in this sense.
The reason why it makes sense is that because no matter what situation you are in, you always experience that some kind of marketing activity channel doesn’t work anymore or doesn’t work in that setting or at that time or for that business model. There is no silver bullet and that is the whole point. There is no one single thing that you can do that will fix everything. It’s unique for every situation, for every company, for every market. And that’s why we found ourselves using this tool to help us to get to a solution.
What we got out of it was more structure. Better visibility, easier to access the content that we have on our marketing experiments, and improved learning. The whole team always has access to all Experiment Documents. They can always see the results. A tool is only as good as the person applying it. This involves some kind of mindset as well. We need to keep it simple, which I think is key for us. We started a lot bigger and more complex, but we have got it down now to get it simpler. The hurdle of working in a structure like this was a bit frightening. You really need to have rigorous discipline, but as soon as you get rolling, it becomes more fun. You have this visibility that you can start maneuvering a bit. The main purpose is to learn and become better, which nobody can disagree with. The best thing of all is we are giving the tool away for free. Once you go to growth.founders.as you put in your name and email and get started. In a day or two, you will receive an email from us with this presentation and a quick guideline to use it.