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8 startup lessons Lucy learnt during 8 weeks working at Escape the City

[Note from Rob: It has been a total pleasure working with Lucy these past two months…]

[A graduate from the New Entrepreneurs Foundation and with experience gained at Seatwave, Lucy is one impressive operator in the Digital Marketing / Growth Hacking space.]

[She’s considering her options for her next move. If you’re a startup doing something genuinely different / interesting – or you’re taking people to space – you could do worse than drop her a tweet.]

1. COLD SELLING IS REALLY HARD.

Even if you genuinely love your product, and you know it in your bones that they would love it too, people don’t like being sold to. Draped in thick layers of ‘can I help?’, and ‘here… try it for free’ they can still sniff the sell. Work out how to attract people to you and create a honey laced web once they’ve arrived.

2. DONT OVER ESTIMATE THE POWER OF FREE

As Seth Godin recently posted – don’t rush to give stuff away for free. Make people decide to invest, even if it is just a little money. When you have parted with cash, you have made not just a financial but an emotional investment in that product or service. At Escape we tested giving away free listings and found that employers were far more disengaged than those that paid, and as a consequence, those jobs got less views and less applicants.

3. REFLECT CONSTANTLY

I was struck by the level of reflection in this Battersea school house. Why are we doing this? What exactly are we trying to achieve? Is this inline with our vision? Countless times previously I have blindly marched towards some half baked goal, driven by boundless enthusiasm, limited by the lack of steady reflection. Does this thing need to be done right now? Does it need to be done at all? Is this best way of doing it?

4. ALIGN YOUR PRODUCT AND COMMERCIAL GOALS

It was an interesting exercise to clearly define the 4 main company goals and tease out the broad commercial and product steps that would help achieve them. How do those steps interact, in what order do they to happen, and how are we going to measure their efficacy? I imagine as a business grows, it is easy for the component teams to gradually separate, each working to the beat of their own drum, governed simply by the communal goal of ‘turn a profit’.

5. OWN YOUR PRODUCT

Rob said that outsourcing your development work felt like trying to manipulate something delicate with thick gloves on. I liked this imagery. It is important to react to feedback, to experiment, and for the people building and maintaining your product to be totally aligned with your vision and work.

6. USE THE TOOLS AVAILABLE

“If we did it again, I would stretch mailchimp, hubspot and wordpress as far as they would go before investing in a build”. The internet bestows on us such impressive tools that let us build shiny, functional products, basically for free, that other people want to interact with. That is seriously cool. Use these tools to test, iterate and begin to scale. The start up hustle will always be hard, but tools like these make it easier.

7. DONT SELL YOURSELF SHORT

Know what your skill set is and be able to define it. If you are not sure, straight up ask your colleagues. Working at Escape has made me realise that I am more process and data orientated, more anal, and less disorganised than I thought. Rob’s feedback helped me see this. If you want to go forth into the start up world, it is important to know how you can make a big difference to a small team.

8. EAT TOGETHER

The Escape team take it in turns to cook lunch. This impressed me very much. Sharing a meal around a table together has strengthened relationships since before we were human (or had tables). It forces you all to be in the now and appreciate each other’s company, which can be a rare occurrence in such a fun, fast world.

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[Cheers Lucy - come back and see us before you head off to space.]

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