This week we feature Alec Ramsey, Founder of Idea Crunch. Idea Crunch is a platform that lists successful business ideas not yet launched in your country. Entrepreneurs can run with the ideas for free, or apply to pitch a group of interested investors, convincing them why they are the best person to start the concept locally.
In this interview, you can read more about his work at Idea Crunch, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding marketers.
Your location: Sydney, Australia.
Your favorite gadget: My guitar & pedals.
You start your day with: Exercise and a coffee.
Your favorite time-saving trick: Realizing when someone else can do it better, and delegating / outsourcing.
A picture of your workstation or the view outside your window if that inspires you:
Describe an average day at Idea Crunch?
Everyone in our office has a different approach, but I try my hardest to stick to a specific workflow. However, there are always things coming up that move my task list around. This is the schedule I attempt to stick to every day (pending any interruptions):
07.30 - Gym08.30 - Head into work
09.00 - Day planning (prioritizing tasks and emails for the day)
09.30 - Emails (yay...)
10.00 - Asana tasks (backlog of tasks on my to-do list)
11.00 - New ideas / meetings (working on upcoming projects)
12.00 - Lunch / meetings
13.00 - Emails
13.30 - Lead gen / outreach (contacting investors, PR etc)
14.00 - Asana tasks
16.00 - New ideas / meetings
17.00 - Break
17.30 - Loose ends (finishing whatever urgent stuff needs to be done)
I find that scheduling in time for new ideas helps me remain focused the rest of the day. I purposefully put these before breaks (lunch and at the end of the day), so it doesn't cut into other work if I get excited and go over time. Scheduling in time for outreach and emails also makes sure I get the more tedious stuff done that I would otherwise ignore.
As a Founder what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?
I've spent a lot of time in the last few years working on my own - initially while getting my graduation startup, Churchill Gowns, off the ground (which is still going strong), and since then getting Idea Crunch rolling. Most startups will require some initial phase of self-motivated work, and the most important thing is finding ways to ensure you stay focused and nothing slips through the cracks.
I am a big fan of writing up tasks for everything in my life. Mixed among my work tasks are recurring personal tasks - washing clothes, vacuuming the house, grocery shopping, booking dental appointments etc. I have found that the more structured I've become in my work life, the more I've trained my brain to rely upon my task list - to the point where I'm forced to put everything in there, or it won't get done. I've tried a few platforms, and my favorite is definitely Asana.
Beyond this, when testing ideas I use website builders like Wix or Squarespace to mock up professional looking websites, automate email responses with Zapier and use KickoffLabs to to run our referral campaigns, and to introduce some virality into our subscription process. Combining these makes growing a customer base a lot faster.
We use Upwork to outsource work that we know can be done better, and cheaper elsewhere. For example, early on with Churchill Gowns, we identified the fact that the market would require us to offer free or discounted shipping to remain competitive. So, instead of simply giving this away for free, we found a freelancer who could write some code to automatically give customers a shipping discount code when they like us and comment about us on Facebook. In turn, this helped spread the word faster and helped automate our social marketing.
As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3-5 tools you use?
Zapier - for automating email responses based on actions within other platforms
Mailchimp - to manage our newsletters
Adroll - to manage our retargeting display ad campaigns
Drift - for automated chat bots to engage with customers online
Your company has a growing community of users. How do you use this treasure trove of customer insight to power your marketing efforts?
We like to use surveys to regularly gain insight into what our users want. Without keeping an open conversation with users, any business is simply guessing where the market will go and what users are interested in.
What is your strategy for getting people to your site and then converting them to a customer?
Initially, we drummed up a lot of interest for Idea Crunch by having genuinely engaging discussions with members on a lot of different startup facebook groups. I asked their opinion of the concept behind the platform, what would make it work better, what features they would like to see etc, and made sure I answered every response immediately to keep the discussions going.
From there, we started a Product Hunt Upcoming page (using Ship), and invited all the people who engaged with us on facebook to sign up to our upcoming page so we could build a subscriber list. We then made an MVP with Wix, and launched on Product Hunt, inviting all these people to boost us on Product Hunt.
This gave us our first 1-2 thousand users. From there, we have relied on content marketing, interviews and articles (like this) to get the word out. Once we get users to our site, we convert them by offering a free, premium subscription for 6 months as an incentive to sign up.
Is there any advice you'd like to give to budding marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?
Understand your audience. People (and Google) want good quality content - the spammy SEO tricks of yesteryear won't work well anymore. You need to make sure you are providing something interesting, and the best way to do that is to have regular conversations with your customers, and be open minded towards feedback.
How do you make use of your downtime? Any hobbies, out of work interests that rejuvenate you?
I love writing, performing and playing music, and would probably play guitar on average an hour every day. I find it helps keep the creative juices flowing (which I think is incredibly important for business), it's intellectually stimulating, and there is almost nothing else in the world that allows me to completely zone out and forget about everything around me in quite the same way. For me, having a great jam with friends is just about the best feeling there is.
A big thanks to Alec for taking the time out to answer these questions! If you haven’t already, we highly recommend that you check out Idea Crunch.
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