TechCrunch+ roundup: Growth budgets, hiring tips, zero-party data Twitter Space

Early-stage startup marketers must walk a fine line: Everyone is free to chime in on their work, and campaign budgets for pre-revenue companies are notoriously thin.

The CTO can always boast how many tickets their team has closed and the release dates they’ve met, but a growth manager’s key performance metrics may not manifest for weeks — or months.

With that in mind, we reached out to several marketing experts and asked each of them the same question:

“If you only had a $25,000 marketing budget for Q1 2022, how would you spend it?”

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Here’s who we talked to:

  • Cam Sinclair, director/marketeer, Ammo
  • Jonathan Metrick, chief growth officer, Portage Ventures
  • Tracey Wallace, director of marketing, MarketerHire
  • Jonathan Martinez, founder, JMStrategy
  • Maya Moufarek, founder, Marketing Cube
  • Peep Laja, CEO, Wynter and founder of CXL
  • Lindsay Goldman, strategic advisor, MO Pros

The detailed suggestions we received included budget breakdowns, tips for developing minimum viable brand designs and advice on how to measure success.

Even if you don’t have a marketing person on your team, there’s still enough time on the calendar to hire a part-timer by January 1 who can execute several of these strategies and tactics.

Thanks very much for reading,

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch+

TC+ Twitter Space: How to use zero-party data to personalize marketing campaigns

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Image Credits: Paper Boat Creative (opens in a new window) / Getty Images (Image has been modified)

Tomorrow at 3 p.m. PST/6 p.m. EST, I’m hosting a Twitter Space about using zero-party data to personalize marketing campaigns with Ben Parr, president and co-founder of Octane AI.

We’ll discuss several tactics he shared in a guest post that can help you figure out the right questions to ask customers that can boost loyalty and conversions.

This conversation is open to everyone, so please bring your questions!

Offer decks and other fresh tips for startup hiring

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Image Credits: Bryce Durbin

Most new startups operate with a hybrid workforce, but that doesn’t guarantee that hiring processes have kept pace.

In a panel discussion at TechCrunch Disrupt, Managing Editor Eric Eldon interviewed Jaime Bott, talent partner at Sequoia, Tawni Nazario-Cranz, operating partner at Signalfire, and Doris Tong, founder and CEO of EQ Talent Group, to learn more about recent shifts in recruiting.

It’s not just engineering talent that’s in high demand — with so many startups staffing up, “there aren’t enough senior people to hire overall in the world,” Eric writes.

Casper’s return to private life isn’t a canary for DTC companies going public

Like many of you, my first exposure to Casper was via the company’s ubiquitous podcast ads promoting its mattresses a few years ago.

The company has had an interesting trajectory: venture-backed, it “has struggled as a public concern” since its 2020 IPO, reports Alex Wilhelm.

Yesterday, the company announced it would go private again, “and given that we’re seeing cash-hungry operations like Sweetgreen and Rent the Runway list, it’s worth digging into what happened at Casper.”

Lessons we learned from the last week of fintech earnings

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Image Credits: radiojah (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

After a week of dynamic news, Ryan Lawler and Alex Wilhelm filed a Friday afternoon collab that looked back at “a series of winning fintech results from BNPL, consumer finance, proptech and corporate finance players.”

Their recap covered Affirm’s earnings, Zillow’s iBuying abandonment and lackluster earnings results from Robinhood and Square driven by a decline in crypto trading.

“It’s shaping up to be fintech’s year, both in the public and private markets.”

Utah’s Podium raises pre-IPO round, boosting its valuation to $3 billion

Image Credits: George Frey/Bloomberg / Getty Images

Podium, which provides software services to SMBs, landed a $201 million round at a $3 billion valuation, with an investor telling Bloomberg the Utah-based company will “definitely” go public.

Podium declined to share much beyond that.

“The lack of hard financial results makes Podium’s upcoming IPO … all the more curious,” Alex Wilhelm writes.

“Given that we are going to see results for Podium’s current performance inside of its eventual S-1 filing, why not tell us now?”

A wave of LatAm fintechs are laying down new global commerce rails

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Image Credits: baona (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

To better serve consumers who use at least 14 different currencies, Latin America’s online merchants are building innovative, robust fintech infrastructure that’s benefiting global brands and SMEs.

“The key to growing market share and loyalty for global merchants and service providers is knocking out the friction tied to payments and the online buying experience,” writes EBANX CEO João Del Valle.

“In practice, consumers want this process to be ‘thoughtless’ so that there are no barriers to paying using the methods they prefer and ensuring that digital transactions are fast, easy, painless and secure.”

Faster deals, less diligence: The African startup market mirrors its larger rivals

African startups have already outraised all prior years, meaning that 2021 is certain to be one for the books, Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim report for The Exchange.

They found that the situation in Africa looks a lot like it does elsewhere: Investors are making deals at a rapid pace, and diligence is often getting back-burnered.

To help make sense of the numbers, they spoke to Novastar Ventures’ West Africa director Brian Odhiambo and Lexi Novitske, managing partner at Acuity Venture Partners.

Accrediting as a service and the future of alternative degrees

Image of a yellow toolbox sitting on a keyboard to represent a digital ops toolbox to allow for hyperautomation.

Image Credits: abluecup (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Edtech startup Woolf landed a $7.5 million seed round not to offer an alternative to education, but to legitimize those alternatives.

“Woolf University isn’t competing with the cadre of startups offering non-accredited alternatives to education,” Natasha Mascarenhas writes.

“Instead, Woolf wants to make them future customers.”

Huge deals are pushing more AI startups into IPO territory

Alex Wilhelm and Anna Heim unboxed new data from CB Insights on venture capital investment in AI, noting that rising dollar amounts and deal volumes mean more AI-focused startups are headed toward public markets.

They leaned on Sapphire Ventures partner Jai Das and Glasswing Venture partner Rudina Seseri to help make sense of the numbers.

“If you raise $100 million total, let alone in a single shot, investors are betting on an exit north of $1 billion, and hopefully much larger,” Anna and Alex wrote.

“Most of those companies will need to power their own exit, instead of looking for a soft corporate landing.”

Microsoft’s shift to the cloud is a lesson in corporate evolution

Jared Spataro, Microsoft executive in charge of Microsoft 365

Image Credits: Microsoft

It’s no exaggeration to say that Microsoft’s transition to cloud computing fundamentally changed how the tech giant does business.

“Microsoft wasn’t just asking customers to make this change,” Ron Miller writes. “It also involved massive internal change for everything from how you build and deliver software — moving from a waterfall schedule of months and years to an agile one, where you could potentially be updating on a daily basis.”

Last month, at TechCrunch Sessions: SaaS, he discussed the transition with Jared Spataro, corporate vice president for Microsoft 365.