Young Upstarts

All about entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship, ideas, innovation, and small business.

Startup Q&A: How To Generate Users

This is a bi-weekly column dispensing advice and help for technology startup founders and aspiring web entrepreneurs written by resident startup advisor and mentor, Jeffrey Paine. Jeffrey is the founder and executive director of Battle Ventures and Founder Institute Singapore. You can ask Jeff a question on startups and entrepreneurship by emailing us at administrator [at] youngupstarts [dot] com.

Hi Jeff –

I have a question for you. We’re a start-up group-buying site in the U.S. focusing on the local (non-metro) and hyper-local markets which are being overlooked by all the other group-buying (daily deal) sites in the space.

My question is this: I noticed that a lot of newcomers are generating large numbers of opt-in email users. What is the best practice to employ to get our numbers up and what’s their secret?

Ron Butler

Dear Ron,

Let me try by answering your two-part question:

1. What is their secret?
If a competitor launched with an email list which converts well into eventual users, this can be credited to them finding the list and executing on it. Most of the time an email list of some sort with demographics can be purchased for a fee, another way to do this is to partner with a company with such email database and compensate them with equity in the business or some kind of CPA (cost per acquisition) remuneration package (some structure where boot strapping startups can stomach as opposed to paying for each email address).

2. What is the best practice to get your numbers up?
Well since it is a hyper local market you are targeting, you need to find exactly who this target audience who will be clamoring all over your deals. I assume you have limited funds and need a bootstrap way of reaching them. Besides the obvious flyers in campuses, finding online influencers (i.e. local bloggers), local traditional media coverage, you can also try to gather a mailing list of sorts, to not pay much for it, you need to be creative, but first find the companies with the exact user/reader demographics as yours and you can try to work out some kind of a barter trade. For e,g, a local monthly magazine publisher who organized events may have a list of readers that may fit your target audience, offer the publisher free listing for subscription deals in exchange for the permission to market to their email list.



Jeffrey Paine is the founder and executive director of Battle Ventures & Founder Institute Singapore. Jeffrey has a background in venture capital, technology, film and is always interested in issues in entrepreneurship, ideas that dominate, cool films and dramas. He has co-founded 2 technology startups that will be spinning out of Battle Ventures. He can be reached on the twitter @jpaine.

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