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Startup
The moment you start fundraising, you begin running two product lines.
 
1. The flagship product that you sell directly to customers (what most people know you for).
AND
2. Your company.
 
Investors are not clients of your product, they are looking at your whole company as a separate product that they may want to purchase part of. This means they look for nice “features” in the business like; founding team, traction, business model, revenue, etc.
 
Here are 10 more things you should know about fundraising:
 
  1. Build a sales funnel of investors just like you would for your product. Expect to talk to at least 150 QUALIFIED investors.
  2. 100 pitches to get 3-5 commitments is not unusual. This means you’ll get rejected ~95% of the time– even with a highly qualified and pre-vetted investor list. Prepare for this.
  3. Find investors on Crunchbase, PRHub, InsideVenture, VenturePulse, Quora, Techcrunch, Medium, Pitchbook (paid), CB Insights (paid), Foundersuite, or LinkedIn.
  4. Asking someone for “investor intros” is too broad of an ask. If you don’t know what you want, they won’t either. Do your homework in advance and ask for intros to specific people who you think would be a good fit to increase the likelihood of an intro.
  5. Avoid investors who have: invested in competitor startups, are low on funds, have done no recent deals, invest in a different sector/stage/location than you’re in, have a bad reputation. Diligently cut down your list at the research stage for a better investor conversion rate.
  6. Create a tracking system or CRM to keep track of relationships as they move from “new lead” to “money committed” or “declined”. Remember, you’re selling a part of your company. This is a sales process.
  7. Do intros in parallel – you want to talk to as many qualified investors as possible at once. Build momentum!
  8. Send regular progress updates to all investors who haven’t explicitly told you “no”. This creates FOMO in your favor. Investors have a tendency to want to be the last ones to join. They won’t know they’re last if you don’t tell them others are jumping on board.
  9. Use a tool like Foundersuite or Docusend to see who’s viewing your deck (and plug emails into re-targeting so you can infiltrate their attention).
  10. When you see momentum building, go for the close! Ask for interest level and next steps. It can take 3-6 meetings before you get a term sheet, so expect to follow up frequently and move the relationship along. This is your responsibility. Don’t let up until they say “no” or you have money in the bank.
 
Every pitch is different and every Angel, VC, lone wolf and PE firm are different, and they all weigh your pitch through different methods. Always know who you’re talking to and play to their strengths. If you find a great investor but they don’t invest in your field, then don’t waste yours and their time. However if it really seems like a good personality fit, then invest in building the relationship and seeing it through. 
 
Now that you’re ready to keep pitching, here are some tools to help source investors in your area:



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Design
In an era of consolidating type foundry’s, digital design and Google Fonts, we’re seeing eroding emphasis on the importance of type. More and more, design is taking a ‘good enough’ approach versus taking the time to craft graphical arts, and the first casualty is type. Now I’ll admit, type was never my favorite as a junior designer – it’s complex, there are hundreds of thousands of typefaces, it requires patience and skill to really typeset. As my career evolved, type became my favorite element, because it is hard, and choosing the right type for the right job helped elevate my art direction into new heights of style and quality. 

Type is where the viewer’s eyes immediately go to on a design. It is the information that they want to know and look to learn. With the wrong type, your message can be thrown off. Just like the lack of emotion, tone emphasis, intonation, etc… in text messages, the wrong type can send the wrong message in a design. 

For example:

The right type makes the message. 

With Google Fonts consolidating the selection of type, and designers choosing to stick with what is known versus experimenting with type, we might see a future where Lato, Roboto, Raleway and Oswald are the only typefaces we need. As creative leaders, let’s not let that happen, let’s remember why type matters and give it it’s time to shine in all of our work.



Want to learn more about how your company can benefit from an experienced creative professional? Click below to set up your 30-minute consultation. We’ll sit down and work through your branding, marketing, or creative materials to find where you need some work, and offer our suggestions.

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Growth Hacking, Startup

Thousands of marketers use LinkedIn to get data and they know this. So recently, they put in stricter limits to scraping and ghost profiles so now these profiles are getting banned.

What if there’s a better source than LinkedIn for data?

It’s called Angellist and it’s not using their company or job search- it’s using their new feature: Source. You can get it up and running in a few minutes and have thousands of resources at your fingertips. 

This is how it works:

Register your company on Angellist with less than ten employees.

Now click on Recruit.



Upload a relevant job to the profiles you want to search for:



You can now view relevant people using the Source search:



Angellist returns relevant results:



You can also pay to filter by more criteria (hence why it’s important to put less than ten employees):

Here’s where the fun begins.

Look at the data you have available:

  1. City
  2. Bio
  3. Social profile links
  4. Job title
  5. Company name
  6. School name

All this data is yours.

Unlike on LinkedIn where you need to click through to a profile to retrieve data (same process that gets you banned), you can grab it here without ever clicking through.

Before you know it, you might have a thousand LinkedIn profiles of software founders, even Facebook profiles, too.

Talk about powerful.

*Originally appeared in the BAMF Group Blog, courtesy of Josh Fletcher.

Want to learn more about how your company can benefit from an experienced creative professional? Click below to set up your 30-minute consultation. We’ll sit down and work through your branding, marketing, or creative materials to find where you need some work, and offer our suggestions.
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Growth Hacking, Startup
This hack is so incredible, I had to share it with the world. Originally posted into the BAMF Growth Hacking group. 

Do you want thousands of followers on Instagram?

You can make that happen.


And without lifting a finger.


In this blog post, you’ll get the entire guide to automating your Instagram account to thousands of followers and generating revenue. We have every detail you need to start.

 

Build Your Foundation

Use Heepsy to identify influencers in your niche.

Use the filter to find people by keywords in their bio or even location. You can also choose whether the profile belongs to a person or a company or has a certain follower ratio.

Once you have a list of relevant influencers, let’s dive into the rules of Instagram growth:

1. Post a new picture every day.
2. Test to find the ideal posting time as it’s different for every niche.
3. Post the same type of photos as the influencers in your niche post.

If they post pictures of beautiful San Francisco, then you should post only pictures of San Francisco. Don’t mix it up. If they don’t post pictures of San Francisco food, then don’t post pictures of San Francisco food.

4. If you want to post pictures of yourself, you can’t entirely automate the process. 

You’ll still have to take pictures. Again, look at what works for influencers in your niche and take the same pictures. They know what works best. After all, that’s part of how they got a loyal following. 

5. You don’t get exceptions.

If you’re taking the pictures yourself, they need to be on the same level of quality as the influencers in your niche.

Getting Over the Hurdle
To avoid getting your Instagram account banned, you must gradually raise the automation settings for the first month. It takes time, but you’ll see results soon after. The gradual raising of Instagram automation took me months to learn. I had to restart each time my account got banned. Now, I have settings that work every time.

You may be wondering if this works for your business. Ninety percent of the time, the answer is “yes.” If you sell software, you can still market your team using lifestyle pictures with quotes from industry events. 

Implement Cheat Codes
1st Day:
First, grab a username. Make it memorable and easy to find.

Add a retargeting link to your bio using ClickMeter. This allows you to keep track of followers and retarget them on Facebook. Next, buy and install Instazood. Post three photos every day for the first four days.

2nd Day
Pay Instaboostgram for 500 fake followers = social validation. Remove 150 fake followers for every one thousand real followers. Make sure to turn off your automation settings the entire day you remove fake followers.

3rd Day:
Run Instazood on slow and only Like tags with “like4like” and “likeforlike” posts for 4 days.

5th Day:
Add 2-3 highly relevant hashtags in addition to “like4like” and “likeforlike.” If you’re in a yoga niche, the added hashtags might be #yogini or #yogi. You get the idea.

Continue to post 1-2 photos a day.

Once you’ve posted 20 photos, remove the “like4like” and “likeforlike” hashtags. Now, change your targetingfrom these hashtags to followers of relevant influencers in your niche.

Scale Your Profile With These Steps

1. Once you have, at least, 15 pictures and 500 followers, move your Instazood settings to easy. Only turn on the auto-liking feature.
2. At 600+ followers and 20+ pictures, begin Instazood auto-commenting.
3. Once you have 650+ followers and 22+ pictures, use Instazood follow and unfollow settings on easy.
4. At 700+ followers and 34+ pictures, move the settings to normal.



5. At 800+ followers and 50+ pictures, move the settings to fast.
6. Manually turn off the follow/unfollow settings to see faster results. Try to keep a 2/1 ratio.

Pay Attention to the Details with Auto Commenting


Automated commenting is powerful when used right. When used wrong, it can hurt your brand.

The first rule of automated commenting is to use mostly comments that mention the entire profile, not the picture it’s on.

Here’s what we know:

  1. People love their Instagram profile
  2. People post random pictures

Having an automated comment of “that’s cool” on a baby picture is not cool.

Use comments that reflect their overall love for their profile such as “awesome profile,” “nice profile,” “great photos,” and “cool photos.” You should have at least nine comments you switch around. Make sure you don’t comment on the same users! Posting the same comment on a user’s profile screams spam.


Let’s Get Rid of the Work

If you’re looking to repost content without ever creating your own, then discover photos by searching hashtags on Instagram. Make a list of the most relevant hashtags and influencers so you know where you can quickly grab photos to re-post. Outsource this process to a virtual assistant through Upwork.

Use this tool to download photos for reposting without leaving a watermark: https://downloadgram.com/

To help with organization, add photos to DropBox folders labeled by month. Download the DropBox app. Now you can easily log in and log out of Instagram to post pictures by simply saving them from DropBox to your phone. Posting 5 pictures to 5 different accounts takes about ten minutes. Don’t worry, there’s an even easier process.

Include the description of the photo in the DropBox file name. This enables you to quickly copy and paste the description when you upload photos. Just click “Rename” in the DropBox app, then copy the description.

On average, you should collect and add a description to 30+ photos in an hour and a half. Make sure to remove “.jpg” at the end of the description before posting.

What photos should you repost?

Look for ones that have quality contrast and a significant amount of likes and comments compared to other photos the accounts have posted.

For your uploaded content, people like worldly descriptions, such as “A beautiful day no matter rain or shine because yoga replenishes your soul.” That took me two seconds to write.  It doesn’t have to make sense. Most of my descriptions don’t. It just needs to sound nice.

If you repost someone’s content, then @ them in the description  = “A beautiful day no matter rain or shine because yoga replenishes your soul @username”

Don’t ask permission to repost their content. It’s fine as long as you tag them. Trust me. You won’t get sued and ninety-nine percent of the time they don’t care.

After the worldly description, write the “benefit+ solution +CTA @ in my bio @.”

If you’re a noob marketer, ideally the link should go to a dedicated landing page. I’ve created a two-hundred thousand dollar sales funnels with this strategy.

It’s Time for a Major Upgrade

Once you have 1000+ followers, use Jarvee (only works on PC – need a VPS for Mac) to auto schedule every post so you don’t have to do so manually or simply hire a virtual assistant from Upwork. I’ve started on Jarvee with accounts that had only 500 followers, but there’s a risk when doing this to getting banned.

As you notice, the follow setting in Jarvee is at an average of 230 followers/day.


I make sure to be selective about the users I follow. If you follow more quality users, then you can have an increase of 1000% in your follow-back rate. I do this by skipping non-English Users, making sure they have a profile image and are active on Instagram. I also don’t want to target people who are influencers because they won’t notice my follow. So I target smaller accounts, but not too small.



For Follow Sources, I target the most active engagers of target accounts. That means interacting with people who interact with the target posts on a relevant influencer profile. They must’ve interacted with recent posts as well.


Settings for Unfollowing:

For Unfollowing, feel free to do up to 250 people/day. Notice in the first setting how we give a one-day barrier to ensure whomever we followed has a chance to follow us back before we unfollow them.


It’s important that when you unfollow people you do it to the people who don’t engage with you. This feature will enable you to only follow the people who provide the most reciprocity.


Settings for Liking:

For Liking, we engage with upwards to 400 pieces of media content/day.


Similar to commenting and following, we ensure we only engage with the most targeted users.


Settings for Commenting:

For Commenting, we engage with upwards to 400 pieces of media content/day.



I make sure to be selective about the users I comment on. If you engage with more quality users, then you can have a huge increase in your follow-back rate. I do this by skipping non-English Users and making sure they are not already in our network. I also make sure to target people who are active.



I make sure to be selective about the users I comment on. If you engage with more quality users, then you can have a huge increase in your follow-back rate. I do this by skipping non-English users and making sure they are not already in our network. I also make sure to target people who are active on Instagram.



In regards to commenting, I use spin syntax to engage with relevant comments on relevant users. That means either targeting by geolocation, hashtag, or interactors of posts on a target account.



Notice how we use comments that compliments their overall profile. This way, the comments look genuine.


Put the Followers, Leads, and Revenue on Autopilot

You’re done setting up your account for Instagram automation. Still, there are always more advanced tricks you can use if you’re running many accounts at scale.

Before you jump into asking how you can work horizontally with more accounts, let’s see how you can improve the processes we already have – that’s thinking vertically. One way is to use the right hashtags and engagement groups for even more follower growth. Engagement groups are communities of influencers who engage with each other’s posts to boost them in the feed. These are both proven strategies to get more followers.

Now that you have less work and more time – you have all the opportunity to think of new ways to grow your company’s online presence. Best of luck.

*Originally posted into the BAMF Growth Hacking group, courtesy of Josh Fletcher. 


Want to learn more about how your company can benefit from an experienced creative professional? Click below to set up your 30-minute consultation. We’ll sit down and work through your branding, marketing, or creative materials to find where you need some work, and offer our suggestions.

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Startup
Starting a company and trying to change the world isn’t easy.

RenderLife is winding down. No easy exit, no soft landing. We simply failed.

Ideas were explored, concepts were tried, conventions were challenged. Our team worked tirelessly on building world-leading 3D content, juggling the phones connecting buyers with sellers, networking and partnering with some of the industry’s best and brightest, and consistently launching new iterations of our marketplace software platform. 

Building a business is hard. Building a technological business around user-generated content is even harder. While we had a great concept, amazing product and strong technical team, we simply weren’t able to get dollars flowing from our marketplace to cover our expenses. Although we achieved a lot with RenderLife, we failed to create a scalable business. RenderLife didn’t scale because we were dependent on a single channel for too long. Our focus was too narrow at the start which blinded us to larger opportunities. I took the blinders off too late and tried to make a list ditch course correction but by that time we had run out of capital. I lead us to focus on sales initiatives, and not marketing initiatives, which limited awareness within our core audience. Mass marketing was the right solution for our company, and I started it too late.

I received lots of conflicting advice from lots of very smart people. The mistake I made was acting on some of it, without internalizing the advice and listening to my gut. By the time I learned that, it was the beginning of the end.

One year ago I started to feel burnt out. I was RenderLife’s founder, leader, and new CEO, but the problem with burnout is that you become hopeless; you lose your creativity. I’d go to work feeling tired and exhausted, I was entering into a spiral of depression. I lost two friends to this venture, countless hours of sleep and 10 pounds. There are not many people who know the pain of failing as a private equity backed CEO. I not only let down my employees and our partners, but the people who believed in my idea the most; our investors. Although I’ve let both constituents down, I’m buoyed by the knowledge that they taught me how to build a business, be an effective leader and become a CEO. I’m proud of the amazing team we built, their dedication and their passion. They created some incredible content and breakthrough ideas.

What’s next for me? That’s a good question. This is the first time in over 10 years that I’ve faced a blank slate. I don’t have that next great idea lined up, and to be honest, am not chomping to launch a new startup. Time will be needed to decompress and reflect on what has occurred over the years. I did just get a very focused, three and a half year education for the low low price of $1.1 million dollars!

I want to thank my team over the years, there are no words to describe how amazing you all are. You believed in me and my idea and worked tirelessly to bring it to life. To my senior advisor – Mike G – I’ve learned more about the nuances and details of running a business in the last year than in my previous nine years as an entrepreneur. To my investors – Paul, Phipps, Jeff, Walt and Greg – I could not have done this without you, thank you for taking a chance on me. To my friends, family and everyone else who supported us over the years, from the bottom of my heart, I can’t say it enough; Thank you.

This journey has been amazing, but now, it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

Cheers,
j

— – —

RenderLife’s seven deadly sins:
1. We didn’t sell anything.
2. We didn’t focus on marketing until it was too late.
3. We didn’t focus on discovering other revenue sources.
4. We focused too much on an unsustainable quality system with high staffing overheads.
5. I made compromises in hiring decisions, choosing expediency over competency and talent.
6. I stuck with the wrong strategy for too long.
7. I didn’t fail fast enough.

RenderLife by the numbers:
– 2 CEO’s
– 4.5 years.
– 5 investors.
– 15 employees.
– 758 Hollywood quality 3D assets.
– 86,547 lines of code.
– $1,100,000 raised


Want to learn more about how your company can benefit from an experienced creative professional? Click below to set up your 30-minute consultation. We’ll sit down and work through your branding, marketing, or creative materials to find where you need some work, and offer our suggestions.

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