Chris is the founder of MyGuru, and is participating in the Founder Institute program this year. He shares his recent adventures and needs your help.
Startup life can be pretty crazy. If you have ever built or tried to build your own business then you would know what I mean. A wise man once told me of startup life: “Some days are bad, some days are good and everything else in between is hard”. This week has been a hard one, here is why.
We decided to go through the Founder Institute (fi.co) program a few months ago to try and turn the little startup we created, while we were university students, into an enduring and meaningful technology business. We had started MyGuru because we wanted everyone in Australia to have access world class educational support while studying from home. It shouldn’t matter who you are or where you come from, everyone deserves a fair shot at a good education and at MyGuru it is impossible for us to imagine a future that is not revolutionised by technology and the Internet. Our growth had plateaued and we wanted a structured environment for us to innovate in, to find some new products and the next drivers of growth for our business.
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The Founder Institute has these things call “special assignments” as part of their program and after pitching to a group of mentors on Monday night the following task hit my inbox just before midnight, with a 3-day deadline:
- Secure at least 1000 visitors to your site.
- Secure at least 250 email addresses from potential customers.
This was followed by the inspirational final words “Get it done on time, as no excuses for lateness will be accepted.” These assignments are suppose to test not only your ability to problem solve, but your grit and determination and I wasn’t going to let myself quit. To meet these targets, all of the strategies that we had previously been contemplating would need to be crystallised into tangible outcomes, and if we could pull it off, success would provide a signal to us that our new MyGuru for School product is really something that resonates with our target customers and we would be one step closer to making a vision a reality.
My background is in engineering and finance and with only a little experience in digital marketing I decided to take a scientific approach to finding out what worked best. What does that mean? Assume you don’t know what is going to work, try anything you can possibly think of, measure absolutely everything and make data driven decisions about what to do next including culling things that don’t work fast.
Day 1- Tuesday
We created 11 different landing pages with 11 different taglines (don’t ask me why the number 11, we couldn’t think of 12). We then drove traffic to these pages with targeted Facebook and Google AdWords campaigns in two demographics in Australia 1) teenagers (13-18) and 2) parents with teenagers. In total, we were running something in the order of 40 different ads at once. After determining which messaging best converted to page views and sign ups, we ditched the poor performing ads and upped our spending on the better ones, which in some cases were 10 times more effective.
Day 2- Wednesday
I decided paid for advertising wasn’t going to be enough to meet our goal, I needed to find some way to drive organic traffic. I started by posting on the MyGuru Facebook page and tweeted to get our current followers engaged. I then sent an email to about 50 friends and family asking them to help spread the word to anyone they knew that might be interested. I even came up with the idea of a meme to generate viral interest in MyGuru which would consist of a photo of the infamous Tony Abbott eating an onion with the tagline “Should have got a Guru.” – it’s safe to say we didn’t go through with this idea. I also mocked up a landing page for a competition on Launchrock giving away free MyGuru subscriptions for the remainder of the year to high school students. We boosted this post to parents and students all over Australia. We created another landing page and sent an email to about 3,500 university students who had in the past used our services, to see if they were interested in a new product from us, while tracking every interaction they had.
Day 3- Thursday (D-Day)
Well, today is Thursday (I write this bleary eyed very early in the morning) and it looks like we are on track to meet our targets. I have never written an article or posted on Linkedin so I may as well check those off the list too.
Here is how you can help!
What keeps me going through the night is if we pull this off, world class online educational support will be one step closer to becoming available to all Australian students. It’s the low socioeconomic status, regional and remote students that will benefit the most from this. Now they will have the ability to ask some of the smartest young people in the country a question anytime they need help while studying and no one could deny that is game changing. Answers to all your questions for $25 a week. Years 7-12. 24/7. How can you help?