Basheera Khan is a South African technology journalist and blogger based in London. She is a Contributing Editor to TechCrunch Europe and blogs about social media and other geeky things for The Daily Telegraph.
Basheera began her career in technology publishing as a staff reporter for ITWeb and Brainstorm in Johannesburg. She moved to the UK in 2001, somehow... → Learn More
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009
American Idiot – Launching Your Startup In the US – when you’re actually in Scotland
LesleyEccles, co-founder of Hubdub, a news prediction game drops the 411 on how to successfully launch a startup in a region you don’t actually live in.
The site launched in November last year and got about 500k web users, mentioned across about 100 media outlets, considered to be quite a successful launch. By way of introduction, the company is based in Edinburgh, its founders are Irish, Scottish, Welsh, English… and 70% of the audience is US-based. Why did they choose to launch in the US? Echoing a point Inma Martinez made earlier, Lesley says, if you want some of the pie, make sure it’s a big one. They focused on the US and only the US (again, very similar to Leisa Reichelt’s point about picking your audience when designing your user experience).
Use conferences to launch your product, hire a PR agency. It was very expensive, Hubdub spent about a third of their seed money on the launch – but it worked. They travelled once a month or so to keep in touch with customers and advisors, and to meet potential investors.
Advisors – choose advisors in the region you’re launching. Work out who can add value, and find people who are helpful – when people offer, they genuinely mean it so take them up on it — but don’t abuse it.
Network, network, network.
Be nice to your users – citing Paul Graham from Y Combinator who says people are so used to having poor service that you’ll stand out from your competition just by being nice.
Identify your superusers – these are the people spending more time on your site than you are. Hubdub identified their superusers and then hired from among them. There are also a few people who work for free as moderators, because they love the product so much. They’ll evangelise for you, offer advice and Hubdub uses them as a sounding panel. They try to meet as many of their superusers in person when the opportunity arises.
Sweat the small stuff – like, getting a US phone number. People are much more likely to trust you if they recognise your dialling code!
Steep yourself in the culture – calls it the Indian call centre mentality. They watch US tv shows, sports games, game shows, etc. Be careful of humour, most times it just does not travel well.