“I slept in my office for months” — Entrepreneur & Investor Advice
On Thursday 3rd November, we held our latest roadshow event at CoCoon. CoCoon Ignite Ventures are one of Betatron’s founding partners, so it was a great honour to hold the event in their impressive coworking space in Causeway Bay.
We like to start our events with a local Hong Kong entrepreneur sharing their startup journey to the audience, showing that building a successful company in HK is possible and can be achieved.
When we were organising the event, I was asked by my team if I knew of any entrepreneurs who would be a great fit to share their story. Daniel Lo, the Founder and CEO of GoGoChart, immediately came to mind.
I first met Daniel around 3 years ago, at an event in the exact same space in CoCoon. At the time, Daniel was a Director of an international trading company, earning a good salary, managing a large sales team.
Since then, and being inspired by one of the speakers at that event three years go, Daniel has been on a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs during his the entrepreneurial journey. Daniel knew he couldn’t be a ‘part-time’ entrepreneur, he knew he had to give it his all, so he quit his job, and jumped straight into the deep end, and tried to make something happen.
He found it difficult at first, especially building one of his first ideas — Fey-Fei. The idea was to build an app which helps mainland Chinese tourists find places to go and things to do in Hong Kong.
However, after Daniel had built the app, but wasn’t seeing any traction in the number of downloads, he realised that in the app building business, its not only enough to have a great app, but you also have to make sure that people can actually find your app, too!
So, Daniel started researching how apps could acquire new users, and after testing several different ideas with his CTO, he eventually found some strategies which worked.
After diving deep into this problem, he realised that helping apps acquire new users was actually a much bigger, and potentially more profitable problem to solve. He thought that providing this service to other apps could be a great opportunity to start a new business and pivot. Perhaps, he thought, he wasn’t great at building apps, but he could be great at helping market them.
Before he wasted any time creating a website, designing a logo, or getting business cards printed, he went straight to a potential client, a large gaming app publisher, and knocked on their door. He knew it was crucial to validate whether or not they would want to use his service and be a customer, before he pursued the idea any further.
The prospect ended up saying yes, and paid upfront for his service, and his app marketing business, GoGoChart, was born.
There are some great lessons to be learned from Daniel’s story he shared with us.
1. You can have a great product, but if no-one can find you, you won’t be a success
Daniel’s app idea provided value to its users, but the biggest problem he faced was that it was actually difficult to get his app in front of his ideal target users. Being immersed in digital marketing, I see this situation arise all the time. Entrepreneurs spend all of their time building a great product and expect to just create a website or upload their app, and start generating sales / downloads right away.
However, as early stage entrepreneurs soon realise, because the internet is such a crowded and competitive space, it’s extremely important to have a precise and carefully crafted marketing strategy, which enables you to acquire new customers at a lower cost, than your lifetime value of a customer. Without that, you don’t have a profitable business.
2. If your product isn’t generating traction, find out why, and don’t be scared to pivot
When Daniel first noticed that his app wasn’t generating much traction, he didn’t hide behind his computer screen, scared to face the reality that his idea wasn’t viable.
If Daniel wasn’t open-minded, and willing to face the fact that he might have to stop his app idea, he would never have found that the app marketing business had huge potential, and provided a better business opportunity.
3. Don’t waste time and money building the perfect product, before validating your idea, and seeing if people are willing to pay for it
After developing his first app marketing strategy, Daniel went straight to a potential target customer to validate the idea. By discussing his concept with the prospect, he learned what type of apps they wanted to promote, where their target users were, and how much they were willing to spend to acquire them.
Using this feedback, Daniel pre-sold his service to them and landed his first customer. Its critically important to start talking with your potential customers ASAP. Don’t be scared to get your idea rejected. Be brave and willing to face criticism head-on. Learn what your target customers really think about your product and how you can improve it.
How do they want the product / service structured? How much are they willing to pay for it? How often are they willing to pay for it? What would they improve?
Finding out these answers as soon as possible, will save you an incredible amount of time and money in the long run.
After gaining his first customer, running the campaign, and seeing success, Daniel knew that he couldn’t waste any time in getting his product out to the rest of the market, before the dynamics of the fast-changing app industry changed. So, he reinvested all of his money and profits back into the business to speed up its growth and even spent months sleeping in his office to reduce costs!
Two years later, his hard work and dedication has paid off, as Daniel’s built his team to over 30 people, and has now helped over 700 apps acquire over 400 million new users. It’s impressive growth which didn’t go unrecognised, as it caught the attention of Marketing Magazine, who awarded GoGoChart with ‘Fast Growing’ company of the year for 2016.