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Tips on How to (Shamelessly) Market Your New Startup

Tue, 10 June 2014

Contributed by Daniel Murray, 2014 Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Grabble co-founder
It may surprise you to know that actually the most important marketing you can do when you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, is to shamelessly self-promote everywhere you go. It is a sad fact, but networking really is the bread and butter when you are a self starter. 
We began our journey 1 year ago exactly (June 2013) and we got our very first office for free at Regus by meeting the Managing Director at a conference and asking him why they didn’t do more for startups. Our spring board was the opportunity to have an office to go to every day. We went to all the fashion-related activities we could to meet not only our target audience, but also the ideal candidates for our first employees. 
Our next challenges came in the form of development – we knew no one, so we did what anyone lucky enough to reside in London did, and went to Google Campus, Rainmaker’s Loft, and a number of other entrepreneur focused venues. We put ads out all over the place. In the end, we hired our first developer via a contact my co-founder had made when we had been out searching for coffees with successful young entrepreneurs – we figured taking someone from recommendation was better than from an ad.
Finally, we needed to find funding – and we did this by shamelessly applying to each and every speaking or pitching opportunity we could find. There was barely a night of the week we weren’t picking up our Eventbrite tickets and making sure we were meeting people with money to invest. 
In one year, we’ve gone from not knowing a single entrepreneur, developer, designer, investor, or client, to working with over 300 of the top fashion brands in the UK, as well as having a number of quality investors, a team of nine employees (including three developers), and an endless list of entrepreneur contacts from across the globe, including truly inspiring people like the head of entrepreneurship at Google to the guy who started Last.Fm. We have even won four awards, including the Shell LiveWIRE Grand Ideas Award, and were the youngest company in the UK to be featured in the Startups 100.
This has all been possible because of our personal drive and determination to meet anyone and everyone at all levels and, along our journey, impart our growing knowledge to anyone who asks. We now even run our own invite-only ‘Founder’ dinners which are very oversubscribed and supported by the Hoxton Hotel and Soho House. In essence, there is no more powerful brand than yourself, and your energy.
Different startups, of course, have different goals. As an individual, I would recommend the following tactics, whether your organisation is B2B focused or not.
  1. LinkedIn – There is no better place to promote your journey, find and connect with likeminded people and approach them for coffees. You will have to accept every rejection and take them well, but remember the value that is being added to your life with every ‘yes’. Publish articles of interest and use these to introduce yourself to others.
  2. Meetup – There is a meetup for just about everything, but if you can’t find one relevant to you, why not start one? That’s what we did. In the very early days we started a Meetup relevant to being a super early stage startup that wanted to share ideas and contacts in an open manner with other founders, and it really helped.
  3. Eventbrite – Again, events and meeting people are the bread and butter of success. You don’t have to be in London for endless entrepreneurial events – we’ve even attended a number in Leeds and Manchester and got the train home straight after.  The bottom line is if it sounds interesting, or even slightly relevant, you should be there.
  4. Dreamstake – This is an online accelerator and has been a very helpful community for us. It’s online with a number of offline events (usually around London’s tech city) but you can put your project on their platform and find investors and advice from just about everywhere.
  5. Tumblr – I write my blog on I document most of the positives and negatives of our journey and its served a dual purpose to us. It’s been a great source for our investors to really believe in us because we have been honest throughout, and it’s also been seen as a useful source of inspiration to fellow entrepreneurs. Using the right hashtags, publishing this through Twitter, etc has actually resulted in a number of quality inbound questions from not only fellow founders, but equally partners, developers, designers, and advisors.
  6. Twitter – Twitter has been incredible for us, both on our company account and my personal profile. My personal profile is used for sharing, complimenting and endorsing a variety of startup material, whereas our company account focuses entirely on fashion, humour and engaging a community in an ongoing conversation.
On a consumer level, I strongly recommend using Buffer to schedule activity throughout LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. You might only be one person, but if you spend one hour a week thinking about what to share, and what you want your company to represent from a vocal perspective, you can schedule every single word your brand speaks that week, without having to worry for the next seven days. If you do this a few times, you will begin to spot trends on the response rates and can change your strategy to time your posts around when they are most likely to be seen on each platform. 
My final piece of advice is to notice what works well for you and invest your time in that. For Grabble, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are where we get the best engagements, so we really drive our strategy there, and use Facebook, Tumblr and LinkedIn as a secondary level of engagement. You can’t be a master of all platforms in the early days so make sure you are confident enough to pick and choose. 
Just remember, there is no better brand than you, so whatever you do, put in the effort to meet people, participate in the community you are seeking to engage with, and the rest will come naturally over time.


About Daniel Murray (Co-founder of Grabble)

Daniel Murray is the co-founder of Grabble. Grabble lets online shoppers save their favourite fashion products from any other site and organise them into personalised collections, using the business’ ‘Grab’ button. The service also sends online shoppers sales alerts on items they are interested in, enhancing their browsing experience. The business enables retailers to sell online and leverage their existing social media communities to share collections of their favourite or relevant products without any technical integration, cost or time expense. 
You can follow him on Twitter @murraymuzz and @Grabble.


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