Startupbootcamp Scale SF was excited to experience one of the most accelerated weeks yet in Week 6! We had a colorful week full of company visits, mentoring sessions, marketing workshops and more… The teams found that they were bonding more and more, be it through the interactive workshop settings, or watching the World Cup together at absurd hours due to Pacific Standard Time(!)
On Monday, we had the amazing opportunity to visit Amazon Web Services in Palo Alto for a day-long on site work session delving into Amazon’s culture of innovation. Amazon Web Services provides cloud solutions to companies like Airbnb with the mission of becoming the most customer-centric company in the world. The presentation, led by Rich Hua, the Global Business Development Manager at AWS, started out with a quote from Jeff Bezos: “Innovation comes in many forms and at many scales. The most radical and transformative of inventions are often those that empower others to unleash their creativity – to pursue their dreams.” Hua proceeded with a small introduction of what they do at AWS and their commitment to innovation.
According to Hua, AWS works to make their customers lives easier through innovative strategies that go backward starting from the customer. Quoting the Amazon Shareholder Letter from 1997, Hua shared that through this system of customer driven innovation “Amazon.com uses the Internet to create real value for its customers and, by doing so, hopes to create an enduring franchise, even in established and large markets”.
Their culture of innovation depends on 4 key commitments: customer obsession that starts the process, long term thinking that is stubborn on the vision but flexible on the details, willingness to risk failure for invention and being comfortable with being misunderstood. Hua reflected on Amazon’s experience abiding by these commitments and its results. “Today, 50% of households in America have Amazon Prime” solely because people are satisfied with the service and recommend Prime to one another. This kind of growth can only occur through the optimal balance between value, selection, convenience to create a customer experience that will yield traffic.
Hua connected their method of innovation to 5 pillars: business processes, architecture, culture, organization and innovation at the edge. The mechanism and business processes depend on working backward towards the customer. “Before AWS was found, the whole cloud idea got iterated 30 or 40 times to be perfect for launch” Hua shares. In terms of architecture Hua talked about their self-service platforms and their integration of AI technology for maximizing efficiency, predictions, and speed. For culture, Hua elaborated on the emphasis they put on the previously mentioned concept of “customer obsession” and hiring “builders” who are leaders in their field with a specific mission to accomplish. For an organization, Hua recommended to experiment early on and frequently and learn from failures constantly. He finally introduced the idea of “Innovation on the Edge”: a commitment to pushing every single person to innovate. Hua ended the presentation with another quote from Jeff Bezos: “We had three big ideas at Amazon that we have stuck with over 20 years, and they are the reason we are successful: put the customer first, invent, and be patient.”
On Tuesday, our mentor Jeff Abbott came into our office for a day-long session on Inbound Marketing and Sales. He started out by introducing buyer Personas that are commonly identified through market research and could be heavily utilized. Personas differ within segments like gamers and influencers, thus requiring different offers. Recording user personas in association with life cycle stages is of utmost importance. These life cycle stages for the customer should be met by research, analyzing visitors activities on your online platforms, learning to utilize leads from these platforms to capture users with benefits and contacting them at the right time. The main idea here is to have a conscious plan to capture customer activity to learn more about them and gaining the ability to convert them. Critical things to yield traffic is to have a good content strategy involves intelligence such as traffic on a webpage, bounce rate, SEO etc. Jeff gave the example of a good content creation framework where you create by writing, then optimize through SEO, distribute through converting into different formats like videos and podcasts and finally promote through posts on social media.
Jeff’s session was followed by a workshop on Outbound Marketing focusing on how to build a scalable LinkedIn Lead Generation. Colby Knepp, the founder of Prospect Advantage that helps B2B companies generate leads and increase revenue through LinkedIn and emailing, lead the discussion throughout the workshop, sharing his story on how he went from 0 to 20k revenue in 6 months. He shared that they chose LinkedIn due to its huge network of professionals, its ability to target the right prospects, users’ willingness to connect and engage and limited cost to acquire new customers. “Don’t overlook the importance of LinkedIn for our generation” Knepp said. Marketing creates conversations; conversations create appointments; appointments create revenue. The strategy here relies on 4 steps: building your audience, writing a specifically targeted message, send the invitation and be relentless in your follow up. Making the message professional, yet engaging is highly critical to building a relationship from there. Creating a template for invite request messages would be useful rather than sending blank invite requests. “You need to install commitment, consistency, and professionalism in yourself, no other person can put that in you” said Colby as he concluded the presentation.
On Friday, we entertained a presentation on Inbound Marketing and Sales for Startups by Dan Tyre, who was one of the very first employees(employee #7 to be precise) of HubSpot. He started out by creating a framework for scaling a business in 2018: start with a great idea, define your goals, define your financial expectations, prove the concept, the business model and finally generate leads and customers. “The future is today, life moves extremely fast here” he says. Being an entrepreneur today is different according to Tyre. You have to learn to deal with shorter attention spans and three times faster competition. Today’s customer seeks free and helpful content that you can try before you buy, and go through a consultative sales process. He further elaborated on their inbound methodology that works to turn strangers into customers and promoters of your business. The key is to attract strangers into visitors, convert them into leads, close them as customers and delight them to become promoters. This inbound implementation can be done through optimized search, responsive website, blogging, social media marketing, marketing automation, landing pages, marketing analytics and so forth.
Towards the end of his presentation, Mr. Tyre focused on managing personas and gave recommendations. In order to manage worldwide communication within a company, Tyre thinks people should prefer calling on Fridays, given people tend to be happier. There are also many tools nowadays for video emailing such as wistia.com and useloom.com. “Remember to always smile, be human and take notes” Mr. Tyre said. He shared the Hubspot Culture Code for an important reference for this material. Mr. Tyre truly astonished the teams with his energy and insight.
We concluded the week with a spontaneous networking event and a happy hour in the office where we invited Turkish Incubators from Growth Circuit. The teams enjoyed yet another opportunity to extend their networks in the Valley, accompanied by pizza and snacks. It was refreshing to take a second to reflect back on and celebrate such a colorful and fruitful week.