How to Raise Awareness and Close Deals for Your Startup by Jenna Abdou


Having a good idea is great; Having an idea that people are willing to pay for is even better (Goodbye tea delivery robot). 

While this truism may not apply to the earliest stages of your business, especially if you’re looking to disrupt an industry, education is a core tenet of building a following. 

Take x.ai, for example. We’d all love to have a personal assistant, but most of us are still wary of artificial intelligence. Our lack of familiarity makes the most important part of founder Dennis Mortensen’s job introducing users to AI and helping them understand how Amy, your AI personal assistant, works. 

Based on social media, his efforts are paying off. 


Suiting up and presenting your baby to the world takes courage. Very few a-ha moments exist in the early days which is why it’s important to identify a target audience and spend time explaining your work to them. 

In the words of my friend J Sider, if a musician stands on a random street corner passing out concert tickets few people will want to attend. However, if they move the conversation to a genre related social page their chances of filling the seats increase greatly.

As you work on driving sales, or increasing current ones prioritize finding the right audience and mastering your pitch to adapt to the moment Ronda Rousey style.

Most importantly, don’t give up. Let your passion be your confidence. You’ve got this. 

Here are the strategies Brittany, Julie, Mike, and Aaron used to get you started. 



Brittany Hodak, Co-founder of ZinePak

Although ZinePak creates products that are ultimately purchased by consumers, we’re a B2B company. Our clients are brands, record companies, and other entertainment companies. Our most successful sales strategy, by far, has been asking for referrals. ZinePak just celebrated its fourth birthday, and we’ve never had a salesperson. Almost all of the new people we work with are introduced to us by our existing clients. Besides being a very inexpensive way to acquire new leads, asking for referrals is a great way to reconnect with your existing customers—especially if you’re looking for an introduction to someone specific. If you haven’t talked to a client for a few weeks, pick up the phone and ask how he or she is doing. Check to see if there is anything you can do to help him or her, and then ask him or her to connect you directly with your desired prospect. An introduction from a mutual connection is several times more valuable than a cold call.




Julie Lorch, Director of UX at DoSomething.Org 

It might seem weird for a social impact organization to be on Snapchat, let alone to employ a full time male model to run its account, but we’ve found that one of our most successful strategies for driving engagement is to meet young people on the platforms they’re already on. According to our Snapchat dept “There are millions of things vying for the attention of 13-25 year olds, like a Christmas tree shaped like Godzilla. Or a staircase made out of Cheetos. A cat doing anything.” So if you want them to sign up for volunteer campaigns, you have to generate funny, informative, and heartwarming content on a channel they’re already using. Find out where your users are, and talk to them there. But sorry, you can’t have Bryce.




Mike Townsend, Co-Founder of HomeHero
The lessons you’ll hear by reading popular tech blogs are cliche for a reason, and I realize that now. For us, going out and talking to our customers proved to be the thing that led to the fastest early growth. It takes a lot of attention to drive out and talk to users and there is huge risk that they will reject you. After a while we had so much confidence the idea was huge that it became fun to go out and educate people about it.  



Aaron Firestein, Co-founder and Chief Artist at Bucketfeet 
Hitting the streets, guerilla-style, has been hugely important.

If you missed last week's post on how to beat adversity tune in here



Further Reading
  • How MeUndies Made Merchandising Their Competitive Advantage — When MeUndies thinks about their underwear subscription service they compare themselves to Netflix. What the streaming pioneer did for TV, the Los Angeles startup wants to do to your underwear drawer. The goal is to provide monthly subscribers with the staples they love while delivering elements of surprise - Think briefs with donuts and dinosaurs - right to your doorstep.
  • Seedling Relies on Childhood Curiosity to Inspire a Creative Team — On a recent flight home, I spent over an hour browsing a children’s play website, completely enamored by sets like Design Your Own Superhero Cape and Invent Your Own Insects. After sharing Seedling with everyone I know, despite few of my friends having children, I wondered why the brand struck a such a meaningful chord with me.
  • eero Designs Wi-Fi for the Smart Home Era — Nikhil Basu Trivedi, Principal at Shasta Ventures, recently distinguished exceptional founders by their ability to prioritize. “It all comes back to prioritization, speed, paranoia, and knowing that if you don’t iterate, even after finding product market fit, you can be disrupted by the next product,” he says.


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