From 0 to 1 With Elbow Grease – The Importance of Getting Into the Trenches When it Comes to Growth

At last week’s growth community group at Fishburners, Expert in Residence and Managing Director at ikaros, Daniel Lohrmann was in conversation with the head of marketing at Mad Paws, Karim Mouahbi.

Having helped grow Mad Paws from humble startup to Australia’s leading pet-service marketplace, Karim stressed the importance of getting into the trenches when it comes to growth—pairing your long-term blueprint with pure ‘elbow-grease’ strategies that give you quick results.

1 – Pick up the damn phone

Mad Paws grew rapidly in their early months, but quickly noticed the bottlenecks forming across their retention and revenue metrics. They had traction, but little revenue. Their solution: everyone on the team picked up the phone and talked to their early customers. His recommendation: don’t go in with a set of questions or too much of an agenda—you won’t learn anything. Just start with, ‘hi, you signed up—are you still interested?’ From there, you can lead into the actionable feedback, pain-points and feature requests you need to refine and grow.

2 – Build lean products, and validate through search demand

Karim stressed the importance of staying lean when building MVPs, providing early examples of Mad Paws products built using no-code tools like Unbounce, Jotform, Airtable and Zapier. For validation and early acquisition, he recommended search ads, specifically Google: If your business has demand on Google, early days this should be your complete focus. It’s much better than Facebook.’

3 – Once you have something people want, you can scale your strategies

For Mad Paws, once they tackled the bottlenecks across retention and revenue, they could look to scale their ‘elbow-grease’ tactics, for example—they moved from calls, to SMS, to push notifications. With a lot of traction and loyal users, they could focus on larger-impact strategies, such as their partnership with Qantas, and referral programs. With all of these strategies, he underlined the importance of keeping the community engaged and sticky, for example—referral programs should be more than just ‘give 30, get 30’—but should unlock something unique (for example, a product exclusive for referrals). At the end of the day, Karim stressed two crucial factors necessary to scale up: a clear understanding of what success looks like, and an experimentation culture that welcomes everyone with open arms.

4 – Karim’s key takeaway:

‘Expect to be kicked in the face, when you don’t it will feel like you’ve won a marathon. You’ll always have a huge priority list, but it’s never going to end. Keep on keeping on, and be nice to your colleagues.’

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