The Sandpit Blog

Killing the precious: How we won Lean Startup Machine by working smarter

Posted by Scott Cooper

Oct 31, 2013 7:18:00 AM

Which would you rather have? A market with no product, or a product with no market? Traction is everything.

That’s pretty much the central idea of customer development and all of the lean startup practices that have spun out of it. The goal is to make stuff people want, rather than trying to make people want your stuff. [Tweet this]

If a startup is a temporary organisation designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model under conditions of uncertainty, then your success as a startup is defined by how well you conduct that search. That’s what Lean Startup Machine teaches you. It’s a pretty easy concept to get your head around but not always so easy to apply.

Our team of 4 rocked up to Microsoft’s very nice offices in Victoria on Friday evening with a couple of early beers down. We had an idea for a pitch that we really liked, but which we weren’t wedded to, having made it up over breakfast a few days earlier. This might’ve been the biggest factor in us winning.

 

The weekend rolls through 5 stages:

The opening pitches

We pitched One Tribe, as a way for travellers to connect with friends of friends around the world, to hang out and see the local side of life. This isn’t where we ended up on Sunday. There were good ideas pitched, some not so good, and there were a lot of passionate founders with a product they’d clearly been working on for some time. Let’s call it the precious.

The precious

 

Articulate your market, problem and assumptions

Market: people travelling to cities where they don’t know anyone

Problem: it’s hard to meet strangers you actually like

Biggest assumption: people want to meet strangers

Maybe it was the post-work beers or the light grip we had on what our product should be, but we kicked off with some pretty loose articulations, which meant we were open to accepting whatever potential customers told us later. Holding on too tight to any ideas of what you want your precious to be makes this all a lot harder.

 

Test your assumptions

This is when you learn what you got right and what you got wrong. You design experiments to specifically test the assumptions from the previous stage, then get out of the building and interact with customers. The goal is to either validate or invalidate your assumptions by testing them on your market.

 

“In a startup no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.”

Steve Blank

 

At the early stages this was interviewing punters around Victoria. By later stages you’re driving traffic to landing pages, minimally getting sign-ups and ideally building an MVP that customers actually use.

Invalidation feels a bit like failure - i.e. “I was wrong” - but it’s not failure at all. Both validation and invalidation are successful learnings. Not testing assumptions is failure. [Tweet this]

 

Act on what you’ve learned

Back at Microsoft HQ, the team debates what customers are really telling you about your market, problem and solution assumptions. This shouldn’t be a nice, agreeable chat - you should be arguing different interpretations of customer feedback. We very rarely started with consensus on what we heard - people really do hear what they want to hear.

If your assumption wasn’t validated by the people you plan to sell to then you have to change something, or pivot your model. Then its back to stage 2, to restate your market, problem, solution and assumptions, and go through the process again.

 

The closing pitches

You get just 5 minutes and 3 slides to describe the process of iterative experimentation, learning and response that your team went through. So the focus is on tight logic, smart experiments, as many pivots as possible, and a powerful demonstration of traction.

We won because we learned the most about what people want. And we learned the most because we let go of any preconceptions of what our product was going to be and listened to what people told us. Holidaymakers didn’t need help meeting strangers. Business travellers did. But they didn’t want to make new lifelong friends. They specifically asked for help connecting with peers for impromptu networking dinners. And more specifically they demonstrated demand for this around events. We focused on identifying a market with a real problem then designed a product to fit their needs. And NetworkTonight was born (cheers to Diane from Microsoft Ventures for the name!).

The Sandpit team: winners at Lean Startup Machine London 2013

 

We reckon lean is about working smart, and why would you want to do anything else? Diane’s mate at MSV, Mukund, has written a great post on this:

In short:

  1. say no to busy work, vanity metrics and coding without purpose
  2. ask the right questions
  3. maximise the amount of actionable insight
  4. do this as efficiently as possible

 

What’s next for NetworkTonight?

We’ve all got day jobs but luckily we’re in the startup world already. So we’ve agreed to resist the temptation to take millions in funding (yeah right), instead taking advantage of further mentoring support from Diane Perlman at MSV and keeping on applying lean and working smart.

Keep an eye out for us next time you’re at a business event, stuck in the hotel bar, or sitting on your bed with room service and bad TV. Or get in touch now we’ll let you know about early product releases and how we get on with killing our precious.

 

 

 

One last point. As a non-technical entrepreneur I know that the world of startups can seem like a bit of an impenetrable black box if you’re not a developer. But none of our team did anything more technical than knocking together a few Unbounce pages and targeting hashtags on Twitter. You could even argue that customer insight and value propositions - a marketer’s bread and butter - are becoming the centre of gravity for savvy entrepreneurship. [Tweet this]

 

Coming soon, our top tips for how to win LSM. Seriously, just do this and you’ll stand a good chance. But it won’t be as easy as it sounds. And that’s why most won’t.

1. Follow the methodology

2. Argue your logic to make it tight

3. Build smart experiments

4. Gratuitous get out of the building reference

5. Kill the precious

6. Respond to everything you hear

7. Pivot accurately

8. Wrap it all up in a story

 

Scott Cooper is CMO and Head of Lab at The Sandpit. Cat Navarro is Operations Director at The Sandpit. Måns Gårdfeldt is Managing Director of PowerMeeter and Jonny Grubin is Founder of SoPost, both resident startups at The Sandpit. The Sandpit operates a private equity model for early stage startups, assembling next generation talent around disruptive digital products to push both out of beta and into the world faster.

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Topics: Entrepreneurship, Startups, Lean

How To Get Hired For The Job

Posted by Mara Celine Javier

Oct 30, 2013 3:16:16 PM

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Nervous for that next job interview and don’t know exactly what measures to take to prepare? If you haven’t yet perfected your common job interview questions, here is a head start on how to ace your interview with the best things to do for pre-meditated preparation.

 

1. Study the company

According to Andy Teach, author of From Graduation to Corporation: The Practical Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder One Rung at a Time, a major complaint of recruiters during job interviews is that candidates do not know enough information about the company they are applying for. Knowing the business you want to be a part of is crucial for any interview. Study their website; how they work and what they do.

This includes mission statements, products and services, press releases, board of directions, their culture—anything that will help you showcase your knowledge so who you can talk widely about who they are and impress them with how much you know.

 

2. Prepare a list of possible questions

Compiling a list of common job interview questions is simple to do with the help of Google. Preparing for these questions by practicing in front of the mirror or writing a brief for each will get you a head start on tackling things that are frequently asked by every recruiter.

 

3. Identify what they want from you

If you know what the basic wants and needs of the organisation (especially from the perspective of an employer), then you can structure your answers during the interview to focus on what the hiring manager is looking for. You can prepare for this by identifying the qualities and skills that the hiring managers wants for a specific position. Study the job description. Miriam Salpeter, owner of Keppie Careers, says that, “framing replies that demonstrate you understand their problems, or pain points, makes a big difference when competing with many other qualified candidates.”

 

4. Google yourself

This will help you see what potential employers can possibly know about you before they meet you. All this online content is relevant to hiring you. If there is anything negative, you should be able to respond with an appropriate answer that is cool and collected.

 

5. Ask yourself, “why should they hire you?”

Job hunts can be tricky, especially if you are applying to different kinds of companies. If you are in this tricky process, post the question “why should they hire you?” on your mirror or refrigerator. Rehearse your answer for the question often and construct the best idea of what you can offer. Recognise what are your strongest qualities and something unique you can bring to the table. Before every job interview, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why you’re a good fit for the job and the company. This will allow you to differentiate yourself from everyone else.

 

6. Practice makes perfect, but don’t be too perfect

Answering common interview questions through role play with a friend or colleague. This will allow to put yourself in that interview mentality and help keep you on your toes. If you want to take even further measures, you can film yourself doing a mock interview so you can critique yourself and see what you need to improve on.

Now there is a difference with over-preparing, it won’t be good for your interview if you come in with robot memorised responses to typical questions. However it is good to just have an overall strategy of how you are going to tackle an interview.

 

7. Previous interview reflection

Recording your previous interviews and reflecting how you felt you did during those should immensely help. A record of the company, how long the interview was, how the recruiter came across and the type of questions they asked will give you more insight on how to approach different interview situations and hiring managers.

 

8. Know your goals well

One of the most frequently asked questions during interviews include “what are your future goals?” so not only do you have to know your goals well, but you should be able to articulate them well. If you have a clear direction of where you want to go, a clear answer will look very credible to the interviewer.

 

9. Be positive

Going into an interview with a positive attitude on how the interview will turn out will usually lead to a better outcome. By preparing with a positive perspective, you’ll be able to answer questions without negativity and this will give a good lasting impression to the recruiter.

 

10. Get comfortable

Getting a feel and the hang of doing interviews can be tough, but once you are comfortable with the process then it’ll be more smooth and relaxed altogether. With all the preparation in the world, the simplest foundation you need for an interview is to be comfortable, relaxed and confident. This is the only way to present who really are during an interview and to knock it out of the ball park.

 

Need more help with preparing for your next job interview? Read more on The PowerMeeter blog about deeper insights on the best practices and techniques if you are looking to be recruited.

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Topics: Work Experience, Recruitment

Internships at The Sandpit - 3 things not to expect.

Posted by Simon Whitehead

Oct 29, 2013 8:07:00 PM

The idea of internships tends to catch students off guard. One minute you're still very comfortable with Sandpit_Logo_Finalstudent life - the hardest part of your week being attempting to make 9am lectures wearing trackies and flip flops... All of a sudden it dawns that the student lifestyle is fast coming to an end and in 3 months you will have walked out of your last exam and the real world is on your doorstep. But dont worry, there's still a chance for 9am starts and flip flops! 

Reasons for applying for internships vary - for some it might be to strengthen your CV, for others to test the water and try out a certain industry and for a select few, it might be purely a time killer! 

Here are 3 common presumptions made about internships - but don't worry, we're different at The Sandpit. 

1. Your working environment will be in the vicinity of the kettle. 

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At The Sandpit, we do things a little differently. Our offices are open plan, ideas get shared across the room and if you feel like it, go sketch out your thoughts on the wall, literally! 

Oh and about the tea - we share the rounds! 

2. The most exciting tasks in your day revolve around a photocopier. 

Firstly, we don't own a photocopier - but being a start up accelerator, we do have a load of cool next gen products that you'll get opportunities to work on. Whether you are from a marketing, design or developer background, be prepared to be thrown in at the deep end and increase your skills and knowledge at a ridiculous rate. Check out this blog by one of our past interns, John, to see what life at The Sandpit is really like! 

3. Its all work, no pay. 

"Next generation people and products" is our thing. That means that we believe in providing an environment for you to learn, play and develop. If you're an intern at The Sandpit, expect to be looked after. We have lunch club, plenty of after-work events, a free gym and of course, your expenses will be covered! 


If you would like to apply for an internship at The Sandpit please get in touch at jobs@thesandpit.com with your CV and some information about yourself. Don't forget, we're interested in you as a person and not just your academic achievements! 

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Topics: Culture, talent, Work Experience, Internships

Startups, stories and culture building: Creating a company people want to work for

Posted by Scott Cooper

Oct 27, 2013 7:52:00 AM

 

The way we do things around here

If culture is basically the way we do things, then stories are the why.

“If you want to learn about a culture listen to the stories. If you want to change a culture, change the stories.”

– Axiom #7, Believe Me, a storytelling manifesto for change-makers

All of us are living out our own personal stories everyday. Everything we experience and the decisions we make are interpreted through this lens and whether we see things as conflicting with, or supportive of, our unfolding story. This lens has a huge impact on the places we choose to work and the way we choose to approach it.

If I see myself as a bit of a maverick I might be attracted to a startup environment, where I get to dress down everyday and where my provocative point of view energises the team. Drop me into an 800lb corporate gorilla though, and I’m going to feel very much like a misunderstood outsider.

Recruiting for cultural fit is massively important to team productivity and happiness. As we started to grow our team here at The Sandpit we took the time to think about why we exist, the story we want to tell and the role of that story in advancing the individual stories of the people we want to work with.

If the story of your culture advances the story of your people they’ll move mountains for you.

If you haven’t watched Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk, Start with Why, you should.

Blog

 

Startups and the zeitgeist

Startups operate on the edge of convention by nature. At a startup you’re more able to make stuff happen, outside the system. You work in smaller, cross-functional teams where role players have fewer places to hide. People join because the possibilities inspire them and they’re restless to start realising their potential.

The startup culture and story is increasingly drawing the next generation of talent outside the system, away from the safe but bureaucratic corporate track. Company cultures that can capture this energy and help people to advance this story will be well placed to win.

As we talked about what we were really excited about at The Sandpit, we realised - based a lot on our own individual stories and past frustrations in corporate roles - that it was helping young startup talent to disrupt the establishment. Which gave us our purpose:

We’re assembling next generation talent around disruptive digital products to push both out of beta and into the world faster.

 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

So said Pete Drucker. Or put another way, strategy directs while culture inspires. If strategy figures out the steps a business needs to take to get from A to B, culture builds inspired consensus around what B is, and motivates people to do the work.

This isn’t to say that strategy doesn’t matter. We’ve spent a ton of time developing an innovative business model that is best described as “private equity for early stage startups”. Maybe Max McKeown’s assertion that culture and strategy should eat breakfast together, is closer to the truth.

In a lot of our favourite companies culture has become a core pillar of strategy. It defines the goal of the business beyond shareholder returns, as well as encapsulating the beliefs and behaviours that’ll be employed and the story that’ll be told to get them there.

Toms sells more than shoes. They sell a new belief system for consumer culture.
Method sells more than soap. They sell a non-toxic worldview.
HubSpot sells more than marketing tech. They sell a vision for how work should be.

Looking at these examples it becomes pretty clear that culture and a compelling story aren’t just critical when building a motivated team, but they’re a pretty awesome foundation as you start to express your brand story to the world too. Which I’ll save for another post.


Key takeaways

1. If the story of your culture advances the story of the individual they’ll move mountains for you

2. Next generation talent thrives in next generation work environments

3. Culture and strategy eat breakfast together - while strategy direct, culture inspires

 

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Topics: Culture, talent, story

BornTalented & The New Facebook Regulations

Posted by admin

Aug 30, 2013 6:51:48 AM

If you haven’t already heard, Facebook changed its promotion terms on Monday. The change means companies can run promotions and competitions on their timelines, with entrance to the promotion being accepted via comments, liking the post or private messaging, without having to create an app.

This will make running competitions for your current fan base really easy, and will help your Facebook Edgerank score. It is not all bells and whistles though. The new regulations mean you cannot enter a promotion by tagging or sharing a page. Now you may be wondering who would benefit from running competitions that are only relevant to your current fan base. Well companies with a large, but relatively unengaged Facebook audience will be able to use the new terms to promote competitions to engage their current fans. They will just not be able to spread their reach to friends of fans as you cannot ask them to enter by sharing or inviting people to a page.

So what can’t these new Facebook promotions do? There are no marketing and data opt-ins. As a brand you cannot gather the entrant’s email, phone number or any other tailored information that you would otherwise want or need when running a competition.

So if you are a CRM or Database Manager there would be no real benefit to you in running the new type of Facebook promotion. One of the key stand out features of BornTalented is the analytical piece behind the data. Having access to detailed reports ranging from unique visitors through to total number of newsletter opt-ins would not be possible in this new era of promotions.

You will also have to tread carefully around the Facebook contest rules and regulations. As the competition creator, your brand will be responsible for all compliance, rules and eligibility requirements. The promotion must still include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant, and there must be acknowledgment that the promotion is not endorsed by Facebook. Try finding somewhere to fit all that information on a wall post?!

What happens next? Well if a brand wants to engage their audience and give fans the chance to win, they could get them to like a post through the new Facebook promotion, and gather entrants details through an app. You can get the benefit of EdgeRank improvements and viral and marketing capabilities of fans sharing a promotion.

BornTalented will continue to create short URLs that can be posted to your Facebook wall, containing a link to the promotion app. This means fans will see the details of the promotions app whenever you care to share it, and when they enter, you will gain all the information that makes using BornTalented’s promo app so great!

One final point to remember, is that these new terms are really for the most simplistic Facebook promotions. If you are asking fans to do more than just answer a question, such as send in photo or video content an app will still be needed for these more advanced promotions.

We’d love to chat with you about these changes and how BornTalented can help enhance your social campaigns, so why not drop us a note at hello@borntalentedhq.com

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Is video interviewing a fleeting fad or a sustainable trend in recruitment?

Posted by admin

Aug 28, 2013 7:04:34 AM

One of The Sandpit’s products, PowerMeeter, is a video interviewing tool that allows for clients to interview candidates on a synchronous or asynchronous video. Our team believes that this technology is becoming the next big thing. With a world that has progressive developments in technology and mobile, PowerMeeter is a tool that supports the growth of video interviewing as the forefront in recruitment. Learn more about what PowerMeeter can do on https://powermeeter.com/recruit!

42% of organisations are currently using video for recruitment. The use of video interviewing has increased by 50% in the past three years. 63% of HR managers have utilised video for finding candidates. 75% of the world’s population are on mobile, while at least 1 billion people have access to online video. Since video interviewing is currently a prevalent topic, is this a recruitment method that will sustain itself over this ever-changing tech-developed era or fade into the background behind other new technologies?

Firstly, it is important to understand what we refer to as ‘video interviewing’—it is taking the interview part of the recruitment process and conducting it via video technology. This entails face-to-face interviews or pre-screening candidates online. There are two main types of video interviewing: synchronous and asynchronous. Synchronous is the face-to-face live interview that happens over video (what you think a Skype interview would look like) and asynchronous is the process of candidates recording videos to interview questions and sending them to recruiters (they don’t have to participate in the interview at the same time).

Now with this kind of interviewing, there have been doubts. Companies have speculated whether or not it is really efficient, sustainable or right for them. According to research by Matt Alder from Meta Shift, 80% of firms that have not implemented video technology have considered using it in the next year or so. With that being said, many firms still lack a sense of security with this method. They voiced not being comfortable with the technology because of problems such as internal buy-in, potential discrimination issues, connectivity problems and negative effect on employment brand.

Video interviewing is argued to have a future in recruitment, but it should not replace the initial CV application or real life interviews. Some individuals believe that this method is not a clear reflection of the candidates because it does not directly convey a person’s ability to do a job and show their skills required for a job. Those in the HR and recruitment industry still believe that CVs and real life interaction is the best and most appropriate basis for selecting candidates. However, key influencers within the recruitment industry have hailed the merits of video interviewing citing the likelihood that it will make the screening process faster and easier for the overwhelming majority of organisations in the UK. “Digital interviews will increase in the years ahead.  Its users will drive down their candidate travel costs as well as significantly cut candidate processing time—thus impacting time-to-fill” says Johnny Torrance-Nesbitt, expert on employment branding from Monsanto USA.

With the 42% of firms using video recruitment—practically all users of the technology have had a successful experience with it. The reaction to video interviewing has been overall positive with people receiving more benefits than they had expected. Instead of causing issues that were anticipated before use, it brought additional advantages such as cutting down recruitment time and costs and creating a branded experience for candidates. It has been seen to add value to the recruitment process. Typically a phone screening takes 30 minutes while a recruiter knows in the first 90 seconds whether or not a candidate will be a good fit. Video interviewing changes the game by being able to filter through unwanted or bad interviews in a few seconds—just one of many benefits for recruiters. Communication is key in this aspect and with video interviewing nothing is lost in translation.

According to candidates, 66% of applicants have said they prefer using video during the interview process for many reasons. 36% of candidates get to choose a time that is suitable for them, 21% get to avoid travel costs, 20% gain face-to-face video interviewing experience on an online platform. With this being an efficient and preferred process for candidates, what’s stopping recruitment agencies and employers from continuing to implement it? And since there has been a rise of the mobile era, with 68% of candidates using their mobile to do job searches each week then video interviewing goes hand in hand with this by being able to conduct interviews and recruit with the portable device.

The potential of video interviewing for the future looks very bright. It satisfies a variety of users, from candidates to recruiters. Even though there are some sceptics that don’t fully believe in video interviewing because of the uncertainty of video technology, as the evidence shows—most qualms can be contested if people just give it a try. To keep up with this sustainable trend, PowerMeeter provides a useful and efficient way to conduct interviews. With a strong certainty that this is the way of the future, trial PowerMeeter now and see what we are all about here - https://powermeeter.com/recruit/.

 

Written by Mara Celine Javier

@maracelinee

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Topics: Video conferencing

An American in London: The End of my Internship

Posted by admin

Aug 9, 2013 7:59:51 AM

BRR BRR BRR! Every morning at 7:00 AM, this noise disrupts my cold hard slumber. It’s my alarm screaming at me to wake up. Normally, I roll my eyes into my pillow dreading the fact that I have to break away from my subconscious world and the warm embrace of my down comforter. However, at 7 in the morning the past eight weeks, this has not been the case because I get to wake up and go to work at The Sandpit which has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

My name is Sam Schottler and I am an upcoming Fourth Year student at Virginia Tech University across the pond double majoring in Business Economics and Management. This summer I have had the pleasure to travel internationally to intern with an incredible company in London.

My title was “Business Development Intern.” But traveling here, I really didn’t know what that meant. However, thankfully I got a taste of everything. I focused most of my efforts with the Accounts Management Team for SoDash, which entailed account audits and weekly catch ups with clients. I put together a SoDash Sales Strategy document and did research to find potential new clients to expand our current target market. For the marketing side, I created a calendar of upcoming marketing events in the area. Actually the next event The Sandpit will be participating in is Social Media Week at the end of September. You should come out and see what The Sandpit is all about!

The Sandpit takes pride in the culture they have created, which is the aspect I was most impressed with. The office is open, unlike in America, where we have cubicles back home, The Sandpit has an open plan, which allows my co-workers to bounce ideas back and forth between themselves. This open plan does however, allow my (male) co-workers to discuss their caloric intake and compare their “superior” personal work-out routines every chance they get. But this sort of comic-relief during the day is what adds to the office culture. Friday nights after work, you can find the team congregating outside the Theodore and Bullfrog Pub around the corner getting to know each other outside the work environment. Last week, we had a culture day that was beach themed and we all went to the famous Gordon’s Wine Bar for lunch. The nice weather and great company brought the team together for a great afternoon.

BRR BRR BRR! This was the sound of my alarm this morning, my last day as an intern. Riding the tube, finishing up my projects, and even writing this blog on my experience is nothing but bittersweet. I am so thankful to have had the pleasure to work for this company and learn how a start-up operates. I actually feel like I’m a part of the team and my opinions matter, which is the most rewarding aspect. I’m definitely going to miss everyone at The Sandpit, cheers for now!

 

 

Written by Sam Schottler

@take_a_schot

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Topics: Startups

Marketing Lessons from SoDash

Posted by admin

Aug 2, 2013 2:43:17 PM

Successfully growing your business is the main goal of all entrepreneurs. In order to grow: you need to get your name out there and you need to market. SoDash is a social media monitoring platform that was acquired by The Sandpit in 2010, and has since gained top clients such as HSBC, Harrods, and Pepisco. Now it’s time to take the business one step further by expanding to new markets and acquiring even bigger clients. The way to do this is to market the product successfully. As a new intern at SoDash, my task was to research the Top Global Management Consultancy’s marketing strategies of: Bain and Company, The Cambridge Group, Oliver Wyman, Booz and Co, and The Boston Consulting Group to see which components our company could take and adapt to expand our current marketing scheme. With a word limit, I unfortunately cannot go in-depth in enlightening you on each of their marketing strategies individually. I am just going to highlight what they each have in common, which SoDash, or any start-up company, can adapt to fit in their marketing scheme.

Invest in your product first. This particular quote from Bain and Company stuck out to me: “It is important not to focus all your efforts in creating the buzz, but rather building a quality business worthy of the buzz.” I liked it because it says the entire message in one short and simple quote and a long explanation is not necessary. Basically, if your product is not good, you’re up a creek, and not even the best marketing strategy will save your product from sinking.

Once you have a finished product, differentiation is key. In my Virginia Tech business classes across the Pond, my professors call it the ‘competitive advantage’. Whether these Global Management Consultancy agencies call it “the sweet spot” or “the edge” or the “UPI’s,” the message is all the same. Make your target market well aware why your product is better than your competitors. Make them aware why they should choose to use your product and not the competition’s. At SoDash, the competitive advantage is the Artificial Intelligence and we strive to inform clients why our AI is the best in its class.

Now, take your business further. Depending on the type of company, the marketing avenue you choose may differ. In my research, among the most recommended were to raise the level of engagement with your customers, keep your website updated, refine your SEO campaign and better your social media strategy. Ways of achieving these differ as well, including, writing an article for a local magazine to gain credibility, enter local business competitions, start a customer loyalty program, or even host an event.

This summer my overall task, as an intern, is to support the development of a marketing plan on behalf of SoDash. Stay tuned to monitor our progress into the autumn of 2013.

Cheers for now!

 

 

Written by Sam Schottler

@take_a_schot

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Topics: Social Media, Social Engagement

Not Your Typical Internship

Posted by admin

Jul 26, 2013 8:32:39 AM

The responsibilities of an intern span far and wide. The typical stereotype of what an intern does on a day-to-day basis is making tea or coffee, sorting through mail and taking care of unimportant mundane tasks. However, there is nothing stereotypical about my job as an intern or the place I work.

On the first day, I was thrown into the shark tank. No, I do not mean a figurative environment in which all the employees were vicious and ruthless workers, I mean a room literally called the shark tank. Stepping into this room established what I thought was the perfect balance of The Sandpit. The ability to be productive, progressive and creative in a workplace that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The first meeting I had in this room introduced me to all the products, the team and everything else about the company. I had found that the products were all on the verge of innovation and the people were laidback in appearance but diligent with their work. I felt excited as to what was to come—and then I moved on to what my responsibilities were.

I had hoped that I would be able to take on as much responsibility an intern could be given. And that is exactly what has happened over my time here. With my job directly focused to the marketing of one of the products known as PowerMeeter, I was given a general layout of what needed to be done but I’ve had the opportunity to take the reins. My responsibilities have been extremely independent as I have been able to develop my own goals, projects and deadlines that follow the direction that PowerMeeter is going on. This independence has allowed flexibility and productivity, as I’ve gotten to work with different products and create my own ideas for market research.

With no prior experience in the technology industry or start-ups, The Sandpit has been a great introduction to this new world. Interning in each industry differs, but my label as an intern has not defined how people treat me or constricted the responsibilities I have received. The camaraderie and banter in the office bounces off the orange and yellow walls whilst maintaining a focus and drive to work hard. Continuous motivation and support from everyone in the office has given me the zest to achieve my goals and keep progressing. Each corner of the room has a person that knows what they are doing and is determined to succeed. And with that determination, I am constantly inspired when I hear the ringing of a bell when a deal is made or a new development for a product pushes through.

The Sandpit oozes of innovative growth in both the products and the people. Each week I look forward to our Friday meetings (not because we’re done with another working week) but because it is a time in which all team members share their downfalls and triumphs, cheer each other on and all get on the same page. With some light-hearted banter and snaps for those who have reached certain targets, the most valuable player is voted for—a person that has achieved leaps and bounds in the week—leaving everyone on a good note before the weekend commences. Interning at The Sandpit makes it easier to wake up in the morning and go to work, as each day I look forward to being productive in a positive environment.

 

Your standard day at The Sandpit.

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Written by Mara Celine Javier

@maracelinee

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Topics: Startups

Social Engagement & Lead Generation Through Competitions

Posted by admin

Jul 19, 2013 7:25:28 AM

Social Media. Two words that almost every CEO or CMO are either muttering under their breath or bellowing loudly at anyone who will listen. Some because they understand it, but most it seems, because everyone else is talking about it! There are conflicting views on how companies can use sources such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to best serve their organisation. Some refuse to provide budget for social media as you can access many of the tools for free, whilst others are injecting millions into state of the art Social Media centres at the heart of their businesses.

We’re not going to weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of social strategies now as we’d be here all night, and I am really tired as it’s too hot to sleep at the moment! Instead, we’ll explore the art of social engagement and lead generation.

For some reason, when it comes to using Social Media to gain customers, companies can seem to forget the first rule of digital marketing. Do not talk about digital marketing... I mean, content is key. Just because you can communicate to your customers through Twitter, that doesn’t guarantee they will listen if what you have to say is boring!

As content is key, marketers need to create and distribute compelling messages to engage and acquire their target audience. An increasingly successful and low risk way of doing this is through online contests. Ranging from a simple multiple choice sweepstake to complex video uploads, contests can provide the double benefit of increased engagement and loyalty amongst your current fan base, as well as data on potential new leads. All you need to do is find a reasonable prize to give away, decide what data you want to capture from each user, and think about a question to ask!

I’ve not found a company that doesn’t want new customers, but I have found plenty that have spent thousands on data and lead generation that haven’t really turned into sales. Using competitions, companies can gather data on their customers’ buying habits, increase their following on Twitter, Facebook and other channels, as well as gain valuable and reasonably cheap publicity. None if it is that revolutionary, but until recently creating competitions on Facebook or embedding one into company websites meant calling on developers and designers to build apps, data capture sheets and websites. Now, thanks to competition platforms such as BornTalented, you don’t need to be a superstar developer to do any of the above. Competitions can be created in a matter of minutes, fitting in nicely with the branding and image of the company launching them.

If you get the message right using an efficient platform such as BornTalented, Social Media doesn’t need to be a naughty phrase muttered under your CMO’s breath. It can be the focal point of your customer engagement and lead generation.

 

Written by Tim Spring

@springtim

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Topics: Social Media, Online Competitions, Lead Generation, Social Engagement

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