On Wednesday 30th June 2021 resident Growth Expert Daniel Lohrmann from ikaros facilitated an AMA with Amir Sirder, a product manager at Airwallex, a fintech company that has become the quickest company in Australian history to achieve unicorn status. While he was studying at UNSW, he co-founded Timeweave, a very popular calendar app among university students. During this month’s growth talk, he talked about some strategies he used to grow Timeweave to reach 200,000 users.
At UNSW, Amir shared the frustration of many students when it comes to university life – with the freedom of arranging their own timetable comes the difficulty in setting a common time to meet up with friends or for group meetings. His solution to this was Timeweave, an app which allows students to check their own timetables and compare with friends to find out when they’re free.
Humble but effective beginnings
Amir’s first ever marketing strategy for Timeweave was to distribute flyers at his university, trying to capture unwilling students’ attention with a 15 second pitch while demoing the product. Having an MVP ready to be demonstrated proved very effective, as students were immediately drawn to the features of the app and the ease of use. He even expanded on this strategy and trained university ambassadors to do the same. However, it was difficult for this strategy to scale.
Identifying an effective marketing channel
Amir then went on using a strategy that does scale – online marketing. He quickly identified that for students at Australian universities, Facebook groups are a popular source of information and the place where students post any questions related to university life. What started out as eagerness to help first year students led to him writing posts with high engagement and attention garnered, building up his personal brand in the groups. He then used this effective platform to promote Timeweave and saw the number of users double within a day of posting about it.
Next, the founders wanted a referral program to fuel further viral growth. They incentivised referrals through locking features until users referred the app to 3 other people. This led them to receive many complaints, even bad app reviews. Their solution to this was to unlock features manually for users who ran out of people to invite – by asking them to like the app’s Facebook and Instagram page, growing their social media presence.
Features that delight users
Referring to a popular product prioritisation framework the Kano Model, Amir emphasised that usually users will complain about the lack of features that don’t meet their basic expectations of the product and not suggest out of the box features that would actually delight them. After Timeweave had the basic features covered, they started to think about extra features that would delight their users and meet the startup’s goals. A feature they came up with was automatically putting students into group chats of their enrolled classes, which was a feature that was never asked for but definitely increased users’ engagement and satisfaction of the product.
Amir ended the talk with a key takeaway: the most important thing for startup founders is passion, as it is only through passion that founders can always persevere. He said a way to know is to ask yourself: “Would this product or problem still excite me in 5-10 years time? Assuming there’s minimal user or revenue growth, would I still work on this? Be obsessed with the problem, not the product/solution as the product/solution will evolve with obsessive perseverance”
To read more about the specifics of his strategy on growing Timeweave, Amir has also blogged about it in great detail. If you missed out on the June Growth AMA session but want to connect and ask further questions to Amir, you can reach out to him via his Linkedin.