Natural variation sounds a lot less boring than it really is

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Sorry about the title. What I wanted to say was this. A boiler engineer from British Gas came round yesterday after we’d lost power for the second time in two weeks. so help fix it. He got to work, got out his laptop to do a diagnostic, and did a good job. The engineer, Kirk, at the end of his work said he could also fix the cause of why the boiler heating wasn’t working, blocked hydraulic pipes which other BG engineers said were unfixable, which thus made me smile. He explained that he had a lot of experience of the boiler model we had from his work in Islington and Bethnal Green where many were the same Valliant model as ours. But that it was funny all you had to do was go to the next borough and there were a different set of boilers. Funny, I thought later in the pub talking to Shirley, because he’d just reminded me of a powerful teaching from the ‘University of Life’, that not all boilers are the same, and not all boiler engineers are the same.

What’s great is that this principle applies to so many different things in life. Just when you get thinking all cab drivers are unhappy dudes, you’ll meet a cheery one with a great sense of humour. Just when you have given up testing a growth hacking hypothesis to death and are about to give up, you’ll get a result which suggests another positive direction. Natural variation is out there, take advantage of it!

How to Start a Startup: all the Y Combinator backed course videos and notes

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Kilimanjaro

Shopping.com was one of the dot com boom startup successes

Date Speaker Topic
9/23/14 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator
Dustin Moskovitz, Cofounder, Facebook, Cofounder, Asana, Cofounder, Good Ventures
Welcome, and Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part IWhy to Start a Startup
9/25/14 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part II
9/30/14 Paul Graham, Founder, Y Combinator Before the Startup
10/2/14 Adora Cheung, Founder, Homejoy Building Product, Talking to Users, and Growing
10/7/14 Peter Thiel, Founder, Paypal, Founder, Palantir, and Founder, Founders Fund Competition is For Losers
10/9/14 Alex Schultz, VP Growth, Facebook Growth
10/14/14 Kevin Hale, Founder, Wufoo and Partner, Y Combinator How to Build Products Users Love
10/16/14 Walker Williams, Founder, Teespring
Justin Kan, Founder, Twitch and Partner, Y Combinator
Stanley Tang, Founder, DoorDash
Doing Things That Don’t ScalePR

How to Get Started

10/21/14 Marc Andreessen, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz and Founder, Netscape
Ron Conway, Founder, SV Angel
Parker Conrad, Founder, Zenefits
How to Raise Money
10/23/14 Alfred Lin, Former COO, Zappos and Partner, Sequoia Capital
Brian Chesky, Founder, Airbnb
Culture
10/28/14 Patrick Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe
John Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe
Ben Silbermann, Founder & CEO, Pinterest
Hiring and Culture, Part II
10/30/14 Aaron Levie, Founder, Box Building for the Enterprise
11/4/14 Reid Hoffman, Partner, Greylock Ventures and Founder, LinkedIn How To Be A Great Founder
11/6/14 Keith Rabois, Partner, Khosla Ventures How to Operate
11/11/14 Ben Horowitz, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz, and Founder, and Opsware How to Manage
11/13/14 Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO, Twitch How to Run a User Interview
11/18/14 Hosain Rahman, Founder, Jawbone How to Design Hardware Products
11/20/14 Kirsty Nathoo, Carolynn Levy,Partners, Y Combinator Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups
12/2/14 Tyler Bosmeny, Founder and CEO, Clever
Michael Seibel, Partner, Y Combinator
Qasar Younis, Dalton Caldwell,Partners, Y Combinator
Sales and MarketingHow to Talk to Investors

Investor Meeting Roleplaying

12/4/14 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator Later-Stage Advice

Fake tweet campaigns come under fire from Indiana scientists

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Check out the conclusions of a recent analysis from scientists at the School of Informatics and Computing at the University of Indiana, on fake vs real tweet memes that could have serious implications for corporate social marketing campaigns in the future. Scroll down to the interesting point highlighted in bold. (PDF: Fake-tweets-identifier)

In this work we proposed a framework to deal with the problem of clustering memes in social media streams, Twitter in particular. Our system is based on a pre-clustering procedure, called protomeme detection, aimed at identifying atomic tokens of information contained in each tweet. This strategy only requires text processing, therefore is particularly efficient and well suited for a streaming scenario. Memes are thereafter obtained by aggregating protomemes on the basis of the similarity among them, computed by ad-hoc measures defined according to various dimensions including content, the social network, and information diffusion patterns. Such measures only adopt information that can be extracted in a streaming fashion from observed data, and they allow to build clusters of topically related tweets. The meme clustering is carried out by using a vari ant of Online K-means, which integrate s a memory mechanism to keep track of the least recently up dated memes. We used a dataset comprised of trending hashtags on Twitter to systematically evaluate the performance of our algorithm and we showed that our method outperforms a baseline that only uses tweet text, as well as one that assumes full knowledge of the underlying social network.

One crucial feature of our system is that it can b e extended to work with any clustering algorithm based on similarity (or distances). In this paper, for example, we chose to present Onlin e K-means b ecause of its simplicity; however, during our design we also tested other metho ds including density-based and hierarchical data stream clustering algorithms (e.g., DenStream [10] and LiarTree. Although a complete benchmark and tuning of these alternative methods was out of the scope of our analysis, we collected evidence of the ease of extension of our framework to different algorithms.

In the future one could extend the set of features incorporated by our clustering framework, considering for instance entities such as images. Furthermore, our preliminary analysis suggests that the introduction of time series as features may yield significant performance improvements. Our long-term plan is to integrate the meme clustering framework with a meme classifier to distinguish engineered types of social media communication from spontaneous ones. This platform will adopt supervised learning techniques to classify memes and determine their legitimacy, with the aim to detect misinformation and deception campaigns in their early stages. The platform will be optimized to work with the realtime, high-volume streams of messages typical of Twitter and other online social media.

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A mini case study – growth hacking within the enterprise

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‘Growth hacking’ is a fashionable subject with the rise of startups, but it’s not so easy to established marketers to know how to use some of the insights to help in improving performance in day to day business activity.

Part of this is down to the fact its as much about mindset, as it is using tools to achieve growth.

I therefore wanted to share a mini ‘hack’ I achieved at Shopping,com UK, improving our email subscriber rate by 360% at virtually no cost, which was down to taking a growth hacking approach to the problem.

The challenge: I needed to significantly added subscribers to our email newsletter. I did this by finding and then mining an existing SDC e-marketing database which contained a historic list of inactive fans.

The result: Coupled with the design input from a creative marketing executive leading to improvements in content and design of email achieved significant increase (360%) in site subscriber sign ups: from 4318 – (Aug 2010 newsletter with 12.5% open rate) – to 19,934 for July 2011 newsletter (with 57.9% open rate)

GrowthHacking Conference – top ideas below #ghc14

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In case (like me) you didn’t get along to the GrowthHacking Conference 2014 in London today, the good news is there’s a set of group notes available.

And I’ll create the top ideas below, from individual presenters, where each top tip appeals to me/my own experience, using the #ghc14 on twitter to source the quotes:

  • Sean Ellis Testing is the only way to know if the idea is great. Test all growth levers – e.g. Dave McClure’s Pirate Metrics: Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, Referral
  • Lesley Eccles Investment adds pressure – you HAVE to make it work.
  • Zack Onisko Product Hunt has grown quickly because they only let influencers submit products in the early days.
  • Alex Depledge Apparently when you raise millions of dollars in investment you have to give yourself a C-level title.
  • Nilan Peiris Every app on your iPhone has an insanely high NPS
  • Karl Banks Find out what is deeply stopping visitors and accept that fixing it is the only way to grow.
  • Rand Fishkin In 2007 there were 1 billion Google searches a day. There are now over 6 billion a day & free keyword tool http://keywordtool.io/ (plus check out semrush and buzzsumo) and slide deck below…
  • Marie Steinthaler Use all the tools and build a growth stack (image below)
  • Simon Dance We’ve seen a direct correlation between pages that get crawled regularly & their number of visits
  • Jamie Quint Spend 25% of your engineering time on getting your metrics and dashboards right & focus on longer term usage rather than the number of new users: sustainable growth
  • Sofia Quintero Sustainable business is building a community around your product and transactions.
  • Saul Klein #Technologists need to put structure & discipline around marketing’ & It’s important to balance your growth with your ability to grow & If you’re seeing hockey stick engagement but not downloads or signups, that’s a time to invest in growth & in early stage startups, growth hacking should be around the product and customer acquisition not awareness
  • Peep Laja If you torture data long enough, you can get it to say anything & you don’t need data, you need insights & Leave A/B tests running for longer, not statistically significant until you have 350 conversions; slide deck below
  • Ian Hogarth There’s no framework for growth-hacking, what works for a company may not work for another
  • Morgan Brown Growth is a team sport
  • Neil Patel Just tell ‘em you want to give them free tea AND money (talking about about Instagram influencers promoting brands) & Find sites who have similar audience to you & cut a CPA advertising deal to capture email addresses & grow your userbase

SLIDES

Growth Hackers Conference – PDF download version

 IMAGES

How to find early stage investors using LinkedIn

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LinkedIn_investors

Click the image to go to LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature, displaying results for keywords “angel investors” & for location “London, United Kingdom”

LinkedIn’s Advance Search is an effective way to find potential investors. Simply put the keywords “angel investor” or “seed investor” with UK as the location. Because of my network the search results in 509 entries for “seed investor” and over 1.4K for the keywords “angel investor”. These included 1st degree connections I can contact directly, 2nd degree connections which share a connection with me, and 3rd/Group connections.

The method that I have been trained in by Mike Clark at a recent Entrepreneurs in London meetup (click link for post-meetup discussion) says you then contact your ‘shared connection’ for 2nd degree connections (the link text appears in green below the entry) and ask them to email the target with the details you want them to receive. It works much better than LinkedIn’s ‘Get Introduced’ feature!

Next, wondering about what to send investor, in the way of a deck and intro text? See below for expert advice from Chance Barnett, CEO of crowdfunding.com:

When you ask for intros, give the person making the introduction a very short email ‘blurb’ of suggested language for them to use. Make sure that blurb includes a single link / call to action. By using a single link to your online profile on a site, you can allow people to pass along your pitch and all your core company info with a single URL. The moment that any potential investor clicks on that link, they experience the pitch and message you’ve crafted for them online, in a more dynamic and powerful environment than just a PPT attachment.

In my case, when I was fundraising for Crowdfunder in the past and people made intros to investors, that message and link went something like this:

“Hey,

I wanted you to meet Chance, the CEO of Crowdfunder.

He’s doing some interesting stuff with equity crowdfunding and the company has some great growth as a leader in the space. Thought you two might want to chat.

His deck and info on the company are here:

http://crowdfunder.com/crowdfunder

Hope you two connect,”

 

How ROI can make your CV stand out

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Here’s some great advice I found from Lazlo Bock, a Google HR guy, on why showing the ROI of your efforts on your CV really helps it stand out from the other candidates:

How do you make your accomplishments stand out? There’s a simple formula. Every one of your accomplishments should be presented as:

Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]

In other words, start with an active verb, numerically measure what you accomplished, provide a baseline for comparison, and detail what you did to achieve your goal. Consider the following two descriptions of the same work, and ask yourself which would look better on a resume:

  1. Studied financial performance of companies and made investment recommendations
  2. Improved portfolio performance by 12% ($1.2M) over one year by refining cost of capital calculations for information-poor markets and re-weighting portfolio based on resulting valuations

The addition of the “12% improvement” makes the statement more powerful. Adding “($1.2M)” anticipates the reviewer’s question about whether 12% is a big deal or not. If you improved investment results by 12%, but that meant going from $100 to $112, that’s not too impressive. But adding $1.2M to the starting portfolio value of $10 million is huge. Explaining how you did it adds credibility and gives insight into your strengths.

Everything Y Combinator know about how to start a startup, for free

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How does this sound to you?

CS183B is a class we’re teaching at Stanford. It’s designed to be a sort of one-class business course for people who want to start startups.

Videos of the lectures, associated reading materials, and assignments will all be available here. There will be 20 videos, some with a speaker or two and some with a small panel. It’ll be 1,000 minutes of content if you watch it all.

We’ll cover how to come up with ideas and evaluate them, how to get users and grow, how to do sales and marketing, how to hire, how to raise money, company culture, operations and management, business strategy, and more.

You can’t teach everything necessary to succeed in starting a company, but I suspect we can teach a surprising amount. We’ve tried to take some of the best speakers from the past 9 years of Y Combinator dinners and arrange them in a way that will hopefully make sense.

We’re doing this because we believe helping a lot of people be better at starting companies will be good for everyone. It will hopefully be valuable even for people who don’t want to start startups.

Talks like these have really helped Y Combinator founders create their companies. We hope you find it helpful too!

-Sam, President, Y Combinator

If that sounds good check out the first lecture from Sam below, who says in introduction “We’ve taught a lot of this class at YC and it’s all been off-the-record. And this is the first time a lot of what we teach is going to be on-the-record”.

Read the full video transcript here.