How to secure 100k Email subscribers, 300k Facebook Fans, and crowdfunding for your business!

Learn from the founder of Great Little Place how they used KickoffLabs to gain a viral boost and successfully launch a new product for an existing company.

File under: waitlist - kickstarter

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Interview Bio

Rossa Shanks - Co-Founder Great Little Place

Rossa had a background with large advertising firms before he founded Great Little Place in 2010 and Founded GLPapp.com in 2014.

GLP is a city guide for uncovering magical places to go and things to do. Discover the best restaurants, bars, pubs, museums, art galleries, theatres, cinemas and coffee shops off the beaten track, in different cities around the world.

Learn more at GLPApp.com.

Key Takeaways

Test everything while targeting focussed communities for leads!

Anticipation contributes to excitement

Take advantage of the fact it's easier to sell the promise of something and set yourself up for distribution success.

Early influencer communities are key to going viral

Great little places created online communities for influencers to hang out, chat, and further the promotion of their campaign.

Start location focussed communities

They targeted individual cities with specific pages, influencers and messaging. This endeared them more to local communities.

Hypothesize and test your assumptions

GLP tested every step along the way. For example: Building a facebook group before a full website. The website before the app.

You need an existing audience to crowdfund

KickoffLabs excels at this. Building an initial audience before you open the funding campaign.

Focus on the "why"

Customers don't care about your features they need to know why they should care about using your product.

Full Transcript

Josh Ledgard: Rossa, welcome. Thanks for being here.

Rossa Shanks: Thanks for having me.

Josh Ledgard: Your bio, and I can read it. You guys founded Great Little Place in 2010. You started to think about the app, GLP app, in 2014. People can read the bio but I'd love to go backwards first before we talk about Great Little Place. What's your background. Where did you come from?

Rossa Shanks: I started my career in advertising. I worked at a couple of different ad agencies. The first was AMV BBDO. I believe there's some BBDOs in America as well. Then I went to work at Grey London. I think there's also a Grey New York. So, yeah, I cut my teeth in advertising, which is a great kind of grounding for, I think, building a business, because you learn about how to build a brand, what's an incredible value proposition. How to reach an audience and engage an audience from a marketing point of view is kind of perfect. That's where I met my co-founder, Rich Brown, as well. We weren't at the same ad agency but we met on a course and then started talking about this idea.

Rossa Shanks: We kind of basically started the idea in our spare time. It was kind of a passion project. We really enjoyed finding kind of quirky, off the beaten track places. Yeah, just started talking about the idea. Before, I guess we went full time at it, I was head of marketing at The Sun newspaper, which is I think the biggest newspaper here in the UK. Rich left advertising as well and went down more of a kind of product management route, and got into user experience and that sort of stuff.

Josh Ledgard: Tell me a little bit more about what sets you guys apart? Like what makes it different, your idea different, than what other companies are doing?

So, our idea was really simple. Which is, everyone loves great little places, the kind of places you tell a story about... We never sought out to have an app which was just another city guide

Rossa Shanks: Sure. I think it's a few things. I guess the first comes from what the value proposition is. So, our idea was really simple. Which is, everyone loves great little places, the kind of places you tell a story about. Places with personality. The trick is they're really hard to find. It's amazing when you stumble across one but they're kind of few and far between. There's obviously a lot of information out there in terms of finding them but it's a bit of a deluge.

Rossa Shanks: We had an idea which is really simple, which is everyone knows at least one great little place. So if we can get everyone in the world to say, "I know this great little place," fill in the end of that sentence and share their amazing discoveries with everyone else, then we might just create the ultimate list. I think that's where the differentiation starts. We never sought out to have an app which was just another city guide, I guess, with places on there and everywhere and anywhere. You know, you differentiate those places by star ratings. Ours is much more of a binary platform whereby either somewhere is great, or it's not good enough. If it's not good enough, it's not on the platform. Therefore, when you take that model, you don't need ratings. I think to some extent ratings actually take away from trust versus actually adding the trust. That's the first thing. Only great little places.

Rossa Shanks: The second is all personally recommended. You know, we don't just add business on there, kind of randomly. They all come from a personal recommendation that's written by a user. The best bit is, the platform is then self curating, because we don't get involved editorially. The community decides what stays and what goes. So, it's really meritocratic. It's really democratic. You know, we might have someone who uses the app in London or maybe someone in New York and in Mexico, let's say. And they might find somewhere in a random little village and add it. It's very much like everyone's little black book of places woven together.

Josh Ledgard: I think what's impressive to me about that and what I'm going to get into next is that they're really strong about the curation process. They say it's self curated. You can't just go and submit your local Applebee's and have that voted up by the rest of the people there because it's just not going to happen, because the rest of the crowd that they have is going to vote Applebee's right off the list of menus.

Josh Ledgard: I get the idea. We get the curation. Talk about that initial organic growth. So you guys actually started this, when you had the idea you guys started in 2010. What was the first version like? What was the first version of your idea? How did that work?

Look. We're restricted because we don't have loads of money. But we want to get this idea out there and test it and see if people like it and it resonates with people.

Rossa Shanks: Yeah, sure. I guess a lot of people in the entrepreneurial world know about MVPs now, so minimal viable products. For us that wasn't something that was a widespread, or certainly not talked about back in 2010, but we instinctively thought to ourselves, "Look. We're restricted because we don't have loads of money. We're not developers ourselves. But we want to get this idea out there and test it and see if people like it and it resonates with people." So we had two things we needed to prove in order to take the idea forward. GLP Signup Page

Rossa Shanks: The first was, does anyone care about this idea other than us? And how many people do? And secondly, would people share their favorite places or would they like to keep those things close to their chest and keep them secret? There were two things that we needed to do. We decided that actually the perfect platform to test the idea was Facebook, you know, an inherently social platform where people can join in on a page and give recommendations and that sort of stuff.

Rossa Shanks: So we set a page which you put up on the screen now, called I Know This Great Little Place in London. That was designed, let's say, the name of it was intentional in the sense that we thought if you saw that name in your feed, in your news feed, and you saw a few of your friends had liked it, there'd be a bit of social proof, but also that name is kind of curious and wets your appetitive and piques your interest. We thought people would click it and click through.

On the first day, badgered everyone that we knew to sign up because we knew that to trigger a viral effect you need to get as many people together to do something in a short period of time.

Rossa Shanks: Luckily our hypothesis was right or that instinct was right. We invited all our friends in advertising. On the first day, badgered everyone that we knew to sign up because we knew that to trigger a viral effect you need to get as many people together to do something in a short period of time. Then luckily, within two weeks it had grown to 40,000 likes.

Josh Ledgard: Cool. So tell me about how you got to the first 1,000 fans. Did you have any relationships with kind of key influencers in the market? You mentioned your friends in advertising. Were they pivotal in getting the first 1,000 to 40,000 fans?

Rossa Shanks: I mean, absolutely. If you think about what might trigger a viral effect, the key thing always is the first group of people knowing each other, or being self referencing if you like, to use a term from the book Crossing the Chasm. That's really important. If they can't talk to each other or they don't know each other, it's a lot harder for that idea to spread. But if you are within a closed community, whether that's on a university campus or that's in a certain industry like advertising, that's critical. So, we invited literally all our friends. A lot of them were obviously in advertising, so there's a lot of overlapping friendship groups. Which meant that even though there were only, let's say, 300 in the first day and it got to 1,000 the second day actually in London anyway, it's a small community. Kind of everyone knows each other. GLP Signup Page

Rossa Shanks: So if you're on Facebook you'd suddenly see, "Oh, 20 of your friends who are in advertising have liked this page." Then that was enough of a group of people to start the fire. It was like the kindling before the fire happened, if that makes sense. You made basically local pages for each city.

Josh Ledgard: Yes.

Whilst it was a bit of a hassle, we did open lots and lots of pages for different cities.

Rossa Shanks: That was crucial, because if we'd have just called it I Know This Great Little Place, no one would've joined it because there's no relevancy to you. Whilst it was a bit of a hassle, we did open lots and lots of pages for different cities. The way we did that was whoever had reached out to us and said, "Hey, this for Toronto. I'd like for Amsterdam," we basically made them the admin or editor of that community so that they could manage it locally.

Rossa Shanks: And because people really cared about the idea, you know we had very much a mission led idea which is we're going to protect all these labors of love, all these independent venues from the big chains, et cetera. People really got involved with that and fell in love with the ideas, so they were willing to volunteer their time. So it really, I guess, caught the imagination.

Rossa Shanks: To answer your question before I cut out, you said, "What did we do after we got the initial traction?" We obviously maintain the communities, gave them relevant content that they love. You've got one there, one recently, where you can just see the interaction with the posts to something that they enjoy doing, et cetera. So it just worked well within Facebook where people are talking about their social lives.

Rossa Shanks: To really test that we had an idea that resonated was we decided to ask our audience for money basically, for free money, because we wanted to build a website. We couldn't afford to do it at the time. We couldn't develop it ourselves. There's a crowdfunding site. Raised over £10,000 from them which was our target. That allowed us to build greatlittleplace.com, which was again, just another way of us proving that the idea worked.

Rossa Shanks: I guess the main hypothesis we need to prove there was will people add places on our own platform, not just on Facebook. And they did in the thousands. That, again, was a big tick box for us. But I guess in the back of our minds we always knew that we wanted to go to mobile and that was going to be the way forward.

Josh Ledgard: There's a question from our audience. Do you guys ever use ads, Facebook advertising, to drive any of the growth?

Rossa Shanks: No, not any of our organic growth on the pages. I think when we launched it was a lot easier to go viral and Facebook was a lot more generous with impressions that they allowed you to have, as it were. We've recently turned to advertising to drive people to our email sign up page, which I guess is what today's chat's about. GLP Facebook Ad

Rossa Shanks: So we have been doing that and that's been working for us to great effect. One of the best kind of byproducts of doing advertising to glpapp.com, which is where we've got our KickoffLabs page... The ironic byproduct of that is that we've had, I think, another 40,000 likes in the last week because people have seen ads that they've liked. They're literally tagging themselves in the ads, which is quite funny. So yeah, that's working really well.

40,000 likes in the last week because people have seen ads that they've liked. They're literally tagging themselves in the ads, which is quite funny. So yeah, that's working really well.

Josh Ledgard: How did you drive... Did you just throw up this page and you had 100,000 or 200,000 followers on social media and just ask them to go check out the page and back you?

Rossa Shanks: Yeah. I think the trick with crowdfunding is it's definitely not easy. And we weren't raising lots of money but what we were doing, essentially, was asking for free money because our prizes were pretty weak in retrospect.

Josh Ledgard: What were they?

Rossa Shanks: I mean, the top prize I think was we'll get you... I can't remember what the value was, but maybe it was if you put in 500 quid or 150 quid, I can't remember. Pounds that is, sterling. We'll sort you out a trip to a great little place somewhere because we've got relationships with the venues and we can get kind of free stuff. To very basic stuff like put in a tenner, I think, or 20, and you'll be invited to our party. That sort of stuff.

Rossa Shanks: It wasn't like we had a product. It wasn't like we were selling some new kind of tech product that we could give away like a discounted value on. It was very much asking for support just for the sake of the idea. You can see the names there, you put up on the screen of the people that supported us. There was over 300 people I think chipped in just, you know, small amounts. Some people put in quite a lot. You know, one person put in £500 and we just literally didn't know who they were.

I think the trick with crowdfunding is you've got to be prepared. You need your own network and you need to ask the network if they would they be willing to pledge money if you did it? So you almost get pre-pledges and get people warmed up to the idea...

Rossa Shanks: I think the trick with crowdfunding is you've got to do it... You got to be prepared. You need your own network, I think, to a certain degree. And you need to ask the network before you do it, would they be willing to pledge money if you did it? So you almost get pre-pledges and get people warmed up to the idea before actually launching your campaign.

Rossa Shanks: I'd also give yourself, because you can set the time limit by which you raise the money, I would also give yourself as much time as possible. I would do the maximin not the minimum. We actually did a quite short period. Our time period I think was 45 days and we could've done with... It got a bit hectic near the end where we thought we might not make it. But, you know, you've got to give yourself enough time.

Rossa Shanks: I think good prizes is obviously always good if you've got a product that you can actually offer a discounted price on. That's obviously a good place to start.

Josh Ledgard: You already had an audience, like a decent audience. So what made you say, "You know what? We're going to do this campaign to collect..." You know, your goal I think you've told me is 100,000 email addresses through the campaign. So what made you say, "You know what? Now we're going to go collect 100,000 email address as part of this app launch?"

If we can build up an audience before we launch so that on day one when we launch there's a ton of people downloading the app, that also helps you from a distribution point of view because you work your way up the ranks in the app stores.

Rossa Shanks: I guess it's simple. The answer, that's simple. Which is, I think to a certain degree the anticipation of something can really contribute to the excitement of it. So, if we'd have just released our app into the wild... You know, I guess people responded well and all the rest of it, but I think it's much easier to sell the promise of something before you launch it. Obviously with something like an app, there's various things you need to consider, which is, "Okay. If we can build up an audience before we launch so that on day one when we launch there's a ton of people downloading the app," that also helps you from a distribution point of view because you work your way up the ranks in the app stores. To get to number one in any category on a single day you probably need, in the UK anyway, it's more in the States I imagine, you need about 15,000 downloads. In the States, I imagine it's probably near 50,000 to 100,000.

Rossa Shanks: When something's not launched, early adopters get excited, I think. Also, when you're trying to sign people up, the promise of something's more exciting than the reality often. Obviously we're going to make ours as good as it can be but that's the psychological truth about it, I think. Also, I think people want to feel like they're cutting edge. That they're going to be the first to trial something and that's exciting. Be the first in the know. They want something they can't have. I think you can capitalize on a lot of psychological hooks there that are just part of our human makeup, I think.

Josh Ledgard: I want to talk about a couple of the psychological hooks that you're leveraging on the page here. One of the things that I noticed right away is that you've got this text above the email box that says, "Become founding member..." I guess now it would say 50,000. When we took the screenshot it was 22,000.

Rossa Shanks: Yeah.

Josh Ledgard: "Becoming founding member..." So what do you think the impact of that is right above the email list?

Rossa Shanks: So, we spent a lot of time reading books on virality, on social behavior, how you engender viral effects I guess, and how you make something contagious. Everything on the page was deliberate for us. It wasn't that we just kind of mocked something up, just got it out there. Every single thing is considered. We've made changes to that page every week since it launched. You guys gave us some useful feedback, and we've made even more changes.

If you pass two restaurants. One restaurant is full and the other side restaurant's completely empty, we're kind of risk averse as human beings. We assume that the one that's full is full because of merit, because it's got better food or whatever the case may be. It might be that actually the other restaurant is exceptionally good, it's just no one was brave enough to be the first person to walk in there.

Rossa Shanks: But I'll talk you through it. The founding member thing is a concept known as "social proof" if anyone's familiar with that. All that means is, we kind of very much follow a herd behavior a lot of the time. I'll give you an analogy. If you pass a restaurant, or two restaurants, and on one side a restaurant is full and on the other side of the street a restaurant's completely empty, we're kind of risk averse as human beings. We assume that the one that's full is full because of merit, because it's got better food or whatever the case may be. It might be that actually the other restaurant is exceptionally good, it's just no one was brave enough to be the first person to walk in there.

Rossa Shanks: So, social proof's really important because you're much more likely to go to the restaurant that's full than that's empty. The same principle applies here, which is, if you can see a lot of people have signed up to something, and it's popular, that kind of, A) gives it an endorsement. B) means that you're not wrong for thinking that this is a good idea to sign up to. And C) it also helps engender, I think, a fear of missing out.

Rossa Shanks: You want to be part of that community. You want to be part of the in crowd. That's why we used language on a later iteration of this page like, "Get early access," because that taps into psychological desire to be a "Founding member." Make it feel like a club and make them feel important. Very much display the total figure because that's really important, because once you get to a certain amount it's just almost a tipping point and it helps with the conversions when people land on the page.

We removed all those buttons so there was no other real distraction apart from just putting in your email.

Rossa Shanks: We also deliberately made the page sparse of lots of different, I guess, social buttons. We've also got different versions for different cities. This page you're displaying here is a generic one. But for our London iteration, we've got a lot of fans in London. We've got 320,000 fans now. That was also another bit of social proof. But for us the purpose of the page isn't to get more likes, or to get a bit more followers on Pinterest or all those sort of things, or Twitter. So, we removed all those buttons so there was no other real distraction apart from just putting in your email.

Josh Ledgard: I love that because that's the opposite of what I see a lot of people do. A lot of people come to us and they say, "Well, I want to add my Pinterest and my Instagram and my Twitter. And I want to add all of these things. And I want this parallax scrolling effect on the page." You guys, you boiled it down to like the simplest thing you could get that gets people to convert. I love that you guys did that.

Josh Ledgard: The other thing about this page which struck me, and that's what I was mentioning earlier, is that there's no slide shows. There's no scrolling. There's not a hundred bits of feature information on the page about what it is. But it talks about their mission. It says, "Introducing the last city guide. We're creating a magical app to help you find the greatest little places around the world, from quirky bars to weird wonderful restaurants. We promise to make it the last city guide you'll ever need, so come on board."

Josh Ledgard: You'll notice it doesn't talk about features. It doesn't talk about features of the app. It doesn't talk about what it'll do. It doesn't talk about how specifically it helps you. It talks about why they exist. That's probably the most challenging copy for people to write. In general, it's thinking about the why on the page. Like, why you should become a member.

Josh Ledgard: Some people don't get to the point where they talk about what the app is effectively, but I think the reality is if you spend so much time focusing on sharing the "what" of a coming soon application that you'll lose track of the "why." The why is, I think, what's really effective on this page at getting people to convert, because they're presenting their mission. They're looking for people who want to be part of that mission of why Great Little Place exists. That was my last two cents on the page.

Rossa Shanks: Were you talking about Simon Sinek there, I just heard, is that right?

You hardly mention anything about the app other than showing that it is an app on a phone. You're talking about the why people should care.

Josh Ledgard: Yeah. I was basically, in a roundabout way I was explaining how your landing page is... You don't spend a lot of time... You hardly mention anything about the app other than showing that it is an app on a phone. You're talking about the why. So I imagine that that would be one of your book recommendations, would be Simon Sinek's book Start with Why.

Rossa Shanks: 100%. I mean, we talk about that a lot. Whenever I hear startups pitching their ideas, they always start with what is sort of thing. You lose people. I guess you got to make it relevant to them. And yeah, Start with Why is a great book. If you don't fancy reading the whole thing, he's got a TED Talk that sums it up in five minutes. It's well worth reading.

Rossa Shanks: The other books I'd recommend are, there's a book called Contagious by, I think a guy, I'm just looking it up now. A guy called Jonah. I think his name is Jonah something. Contagious is a very good book. It kind of just runs through all the different ways in which you can make an idea spread. You know, it talks from things like making something very visible so other people can talk about it. I know it's gone badly since, but the Lance Armstrong yellow LIVESTRONG band. It was contagious because so many people saw it and it was a talking point. It's a great book. I'm just going to tell you the author now. Yeah. Jonah Berger. That's a great book.

Rossa Shanks: There's a book called The Viral Loop, as well. Which is a good book. I think I probably prefer Contagious, but it's definitely a good book. That's by a guy called Adam Penenberg. Yeah, they're two books that are very good. Andrew Chen did another kind of, it was more like a blog put into a book which is pretty good, called The Viral Startup.

Rossa Shanks: I think Contagious is relevant to whatever business because it's not just about like say, tech startups. It's just the principles of how to spread an idea.

Josh Ledgard: I've got a couple slides where we talk about the results. I'm grateful you guys are happy to share some of the numbers here with us. So, this is straight off of your dashboard and it shows from January, your conversion rate, through recently. What kind of expectations did you have going into this? Were you hoping for 10, 20, 40 percent conversion rate? What kind of expectations, or goals, did you guys set?

Rossa Shanks: Yeah. I mean, it's really hard with these things. I think there's an expectation as an entrepreneur that when you finally get someone on your platform they will, of course, do whatever you want them to do. And, of course, they'll be dying to sign up for this amazing thing that you've created. But, of course, no one ever gets 100% conversion. It just doesn't happen, because someone could go on a page and then gets distracted at work and then forgets about what they were doing and then goes off. It's impossible to get everyone.

Rossa Shanks: I think for us, I think we knew it was going to be under 50% because obviously 50% would be ridiculously high. We also realize that not everyone is on iPhones. You know, there's a lot of Android users and there's Windows user as well, et cetera. Unfortunately for us, we were only able to develop iPhone first and we will move to Android and other platforms. So, you're naturally going to get a drop off there of Android users who are kind of like, "Well, this doesn't look like it's for me." And then, not everyone gets excited about the idea.

Rossa Shanks: I mean, I think when we first started the conversion rates were like 27%, around about that. My goal was to get that up to over 30%. I'm happy to say, as you see, that it's just under 32% over the whole period. I think that has come from making those little tweaks on the page from different people's opinions. KickoffLabs gave us some great advice as well. We made some fundamental changes which instantly we saw, we've seen in the last week actually, the conversion rate's more like 34%, which has dragged up the whole average to 31.9%. I think the trick there is, whenever your page is live, never think it's done. It can always be improved.

Rossa Shanks: And, of course, we haven't done this and we should've done, but A/B testing different things. Even like the copy on a button. We started off with "notify me" and we've changed it to "become member" just because it feels more exclusive. That was a suggestion from KickoffLabs that we implemented.

Rossa Shanks: All those things are interesting to look at.

Josh Ledgard: How'd you guys build the page? Is a question from the chat that came in. So, what did you guys use to build it?

Rossa Shanks: We got our web developer to do it. I mean, I think it's just simple HTML and CSS, really. There's nothing fancy there. It's a pretty simple page. It's responsive as well. I think that's really important, especially for us. We're a mobile app and all the advertising we've done to that page is to mobile devices. Don't think for a second that it's done when you're looking at desktop version, you're approving it. Check it on your phone because over 50% of people will check the page from their phone, without a doubt. So, that's really important that it's responsive.

Josh Ledgard: And you guys just used our "any form" widget to plug in your customization?

Rossa Shanks: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Josh Ledgard: Which is great. I mean, that's why we developed it, is we knew that everybody had a unique vision. We could have a thousand templates in a marketplace and people would still want to do something on their own to implement it. That's why we did that.

Rossa Shanks: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Josh Ledgard: There's a couple of... Three distinct spikes in here with the leads that come in. Can you talk about what happened at these dates? The January, February, and then I guess later in March?

Rossa Shanks: Sure. Pretty simple, really. That first initial spike, kind of mid-January whenever that was, 10th of Jan. That was purely our organic social media. So, we posted it to three of our city pages. All of them were in the UK. We posted it to London, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. That's why we saw good numbers then. All organic numbers. We were tweeting about it and things like that, although Twitter doesn't tend to drive huge traffic. So, that happened. Then you can see it kind of... That organic curve goes down as people get bored of being pestered to sign up on your page.

I think when you're promoting something before it's actually launched, it can be much more engaging...

Rossa Shanks: Then I think basically, you'll start to see there was a mini-spike in February, kind of twice there. We started experimenting with using adverts to drive to the page, because we were assuming that actually the cost of signing up someone before the app launches is going to be a lot cheaper than once we've launched. It's just, as I mentioned earlier, it's a whole other ball game when something is already out there and you feel like you're being advertised to because you're saying, "Download me now." It feels a bit kind of hard sell. I think when you're promoting something before it's actually launched, it can be much more engaging a lot of the time.

Rossa Shanks: So, we started experimenting with some adverts. They worked okay. This is all on Facebook. Sorry, we did actually try Twitter as well but we found Twitter wasn't as effective for us. Then we kind of put very low effort I think into it, sort of mid-February onwards, because we'd been really super busy actually making the app and getting it ready.

Then what's happened in the last week is, we feel like we've really cracked a formula that works on Facebook for the ads. We're using a new format that Facebook's rolled out called a Multi-Product ad. I think we've just got a better, not even call to action. They don't even really feel like ads.

Rossa Shanks: Then what's happened in the last week is, we feel like we've really cracked a formula that works on Facebook for the ads. We're using a new format that Facebook's rolled out called a Multi-Product ad. That's working well for us. I think we've just got a better, not even call to action. They don't even really feel like ads. I mean, one of them just says, you know, it says it comes from us. It's I know this great little place in London. It just says, "London has many secrets. We have the key." Then a range of images of just amazing places, whether it's like a cocktail bar or a romantic restaurant.

Rossa Shanks: The hilarious thing is that people just have been tagging themselves in the ads going, "Hey, we must go here." You know, "Sarah, take me here," and things like that. Tons of likes. And again, that social proof kicks in because as soon as an advert starts getting comments and likes and shares, other people think, "Oh, this is okay. This thing must be good. Maybe I'm missing out here. I'll get involved."

Rossa Shanks: So, they've been incredibly effective for us over the last week. I think we've driven, just in one week alone, 30,000 sign ups.

Josh Ledgard: Sounds like one of your techniques in the ads is, that you're making something that's goal is to feel like it's at home in the Facebook feed. That it's not something that's like, "Hey, come sign up for me." You're making something that tries to pique somebody's interest in the feed. Is that correct?

Rossa Shanks: Yeah, that's right. I mean I think it almost feels like it's not an ad. We've deliberately not used any of Facebook's kind of traditional buttons that you can add. So, Facebook has buttons like, "Shop now. Download now. Sign up now." We deliberately decided not to use them because we thought it would be more natural if we did a soft sell. In the copy, in the text of the ad, we're not saying, "Download our app now. Sign up now." We're just creating intrigue. The copy is stuff like I said. "London has many secrets. We have the key." We're being quite enigmatic.

Rossa Shanks: Then other ones are a little bit more overt. So one is, "Our app is going to be your ultimate little black book of places." Then another one like, "Find places you never knew existed," and then a range of beautiful imagery.

I think the best thing on Facebook is to fit in with the community, don't oversell, use amazing imagery because it's a visual platform...

Rossa Shanks: I think the best thing on Facebook is to fit in with the community, don't oversell, use amazing imagery because it's a visual platform, and I think tone of voice is important as well. So for us, a good tone of voice is making something feel cool and exclusive. Well, not exclusive because it's inclusive as well. But, you know, it just makes everyone feel like they're and insider if they get on board.

Josh Ledgard: Yeah, I mean it's certainly showing that's where your leads are coming from. Of the 50,000 you're dealing with, more than 80% of them coming from Facebook. So it certainly is a working strategy for you.

Josh Ledgard: Where are you sourcing the images? There's some people who've been fans of your page and they love the images coming across the page. How are you sourcing the photos?

Rossa Shanks: You mean just for when we post on Facebook?

Josh Ledgard: Both for posting on Facebook and then for the app.

Rossa Shanks: Two different things. For posting on Facebook, a lot of venues have their own photography so we just ask them. We also know quite a few photographers who take amazing pictures of London and other places around the world. They love what were doing and said we can use their photography as long as we credit them. So, that's what we do there.

Rossa Shanks: In terms of the app... So the way the app will work going forward is it's all people's recommendations, right? The initial content are recommendations we've taken from our Facebook pages around the world, so that when you come to the app it's useful. There's content there for everyone to see. But very much the engine of growth for that content is people adding their own.

Rossa Shanks: What happens is we have a system for that whereby when someone adds something, we have a team of people that contact the venues or work with them and get them from their websites and that sort of stuff, so that the app is full of beautiful imagery. Because I think one thing we realized very early on was, a picture really does tell a thousand stories and if you've got a great image of a venue, an image tells you as much as a long review, if not more, about whether it's going to be something you'll like or enjoy or you think looks cool. Imagery is really paramount for us.

Josh Ledgard: Aside from the crowdfunding, have you guys taken... I don't know if you want to discuss it, but have you guys taken any other sources of funding?

Rossa Shanks: Yeah, so we raised an angel round last July, a seed round. What we're aiming to do this year if we hit the numbers that we want to hit, is we want to raise a series A round this year which will be significant, I guess.

Josh Ledgard: How many people are working with you guys now?

Rossa Shanks: We've got in the office a team of four. We're hiring three more as we speak. We're hiring three developers at the moment, so they'll be seven very shortly. I think if we take on the series A that team will probably grow to 20 or so, more probably. We'll probably open an office in the US, I imagine.

Josh Ledgard: That's amazing. It's great to hear that kind of success. I think what's interesting, and somebody pointed it out, is... The whole time one of the themes to me, reading, listening, reading up beforehand about what you guys were doing is that, you guys are really harvesting the power of an engaged audience with a mission. You have a really clearly defined "why." You're giving people a mission to kind of find these places, and you're getting them engaged in your story, in why... And helping them. I mean, it's what they want. It's a problem that they want to have solved, but it's amazing to me to see how powerful that can be in action.

Josh Ledgard: We had somebody in the chat who said, funny enough he liked the page, one of their pages ages ago, hadn't used the platform or the app yet, but thought that their feed on Facebook was the best platform for them to discover things. What I took away from that is it's really interesting that you've got this multi-layer audience, where you've got some people that may just engage with you and follow on Facebook. You've got some people that are going actively to the website. And you've got an audience that's going to be participating in the app and seeding all the content and participating through the app. The highly engaged side of things.

Josh Ledgard: I think you guys have done an excellent job it seems in providing content for each of those different levels, and it seems like that's intentional, am I right?

Rossa Shanks: Yeah, it is. I mean, community's everything for us. The idea is about getting everyone's recommendations. You've really got to look after the community and that isn't easy. It does mean you got to respond to every email that comes in. Because those people, you know, every person you touch they're probably going to tell 20 people about you, if they love what you're doing. I think it's sometimes a deluge of information and connections that you get when you're on multiple social platforms for example. If you're on, you know, Pinterest, Twitter, whatever you might be on. It can be a deluge. But it does, I think, pay dividends if you do everything right by the community. You keep them involved.

The trick.. social media is just to be yourself and open and keep people involved.

Rossa Shanks: I mean, one example is, we have a private group of about 500 people that we've... A private community for GLP that we've cultivated to keep them involved with the app development, to get their advice and feedback. Whether it's saying, "Okay. Do you like these designs? Do you like the color?" We got them involved with our rebrand. We had 400 people voting in a SurveyMonkey about which colors and which brand and icon they liked and preferred. I think people really respect that openness and that engagement. I think the trick.. social media is just to be yourself and open and keep people involved.

Rossa Shanks: Don't think of yourself as the company. Everyone knows that there's a person writing those things. So, I think you got to be normal and natural.

Josh Ledgard: I want to be respectful of your time so there's only a couple minutes left, but is there anything that you would've expected a question about or something we didn't talk about that you feel like the audience missed out on?

Rossa Shanks: One thing I'd like to maybe elaborate on a little bit that maybe can be more of a take away for other people is, I sort of feel like in some ways we've been lucky enough to have the traction in social media and other things. But in other ways, I guess of all the kind of services and products, our one in particular which is about going out and your social life, fits in particularly well with especially Facebook where it's more personal connections, et cetera.

Rossa Shanks: I think, and you talked about the mission as well. I think the thing is it might seem like there's not a lot to learn from that because if you've got, I don't know. I'm going to give an example of something that other people might consider dry. If you've got a company that is a financial services company or something. Or you've got an expenses app that you've developed. To a lot of people that might seem a bit boring or whatever. It might feel hard to figure out how you might engage people in social media, if you've got something that on the surface might appear a bit boring. But I think the trick with social media is to either make something entertaining or make it useful. I think a lot of products can still provide a lot of utility. So back to the mission point and assignments the next thing.

So that's like an example of thinking about what your why is.

Rossa Shanks: If you start with why... If I was developing, let's say, as an example let's take the expenses app. If I was developing an app over here called Finance App and another one called... I don't know. Let's call it the Reassurance App. One company might describe their product like this. If I'm the Fiance App, I might go, "We help you log all your expenses and your finances so it's all in one place and really convenient," for example. Whereas the other app might be more like, "We understand how stressful it is when finances get out of control, and we think everyone should be financially literate because if you are, then you'll be stress free and lead a better life and be able to invest in the things you want to. We just happened to make an expenses app that's really simple to use."

Rossa Shanks: So that's like an example of thinking about what your why is. Then if you were to take that through to social media, you've got your social strategy right there which is helping people become financially literate. You know, giving them advice, tips, things like that.

Rossa Shanks: Does that make sense? I've kind of gone on a long winded speech about that. But what I wanted to communicate was, you can find a mission in almost anything. Even if it feels like you've got a product that people might not naturally get behind, if you can tap into a human truth or a human behavior or something, you can leverage that and, I think, still build a community that's engaged.

Josh Ledgard: No, that makes total sense and it's a great thing to bring up and remind people of. Another question that came up was, in launching or growing your business what was something that you were wrong about or thought was correct that turned out to be false in the last couple years?

Rossa Shanks: That's a very good question. We're definitely not always right. I think if anything, we probably should've gone to mobile quicker. I think we probably spent too long with our website when it was clear to us that, you know, if you looked at the stats and most of our traffic was from mobile, alarm bells really should've been ringing in our ears to say, "It's time to develop the other platform instead of continuing on."

Rossa Shanks: I think business is not necessarily about making wrong decisions because every decision has its permutations. I don't think we've made anything catastrophically wrong, but what I would say is we could probably have made decisions a lot quicker. I think if we'd have focused on what our audience really wanted, which... We had emails obviously saying, "Hey, you guys should do a mobile app." Obviously we wanted to but we probably delayed much longer than we should've done. We probably should've started it a long time ago.

Rossa Shanks: But that lesson learned and I don't think we've lost out dramatically. I think in some ways we're probably building a better mobile product today than we would've done had we built it two years ago. Because I think the mobile space has evolved and there's a lot more exciting things you can build upon and do.

I think there's something to be said for building the audience first ahead of building the app.

Josh Ledgard: I think there's something to be said for... You guys have spent a lot of time, like you said, building the audience first ahead of building the app. There's just something to be said for letting other people get some of the trial and error out of the way. You've taken on a little bit of funding, but for every business no matter how they take on funding, cost is still extremely important to consider. If you guys went out and blew a bunch of money on being an early adopter of mobile platforms, you wouldn't be able to take on the advice of seeing all the apps that have tried and failed, or tried and done well.

Josh Ledgard: Now you can leverage a lot of that success into your audience that you've spent your time building. Which I think, like you said, it's not necessarily wrong. You spent your time doing other valuable things for the business which is probably a great thing to do.

Rossa Shanks: Yeah. I think that's right and I think what we've... As I was sort of explaining earlier, a lot of the apps out there when you load them up, whether it's kind of Foursquare or Yelp or all those things, they just show you like lists of places and essentially like a tiny thumbnail of the venue. The name of it. How far away it is and all those sort of things. And a rating. It's not particularly inspirational. It doesn't sort of, I think, pique your interest. So that's why we've gone a very visual route and we show you one place at a time, because we want you... You know, we've got fewer places, so we want you to consider them all and show them off in all their glory.

Rossa Shanks: So I think, yeah, that has helped us seeing what other people have done in the market. To then build ourselves. Because, you know, we haven't obviously raised as much money as Yelp's done and they're a massive player. So, we've got to be different and we've got to innovate in a different way.

Josh Ledgard: Cool. This was a lot of fun. I've learned a lot listening to you, hearing the story, and I can tell there's been a lot of good comments. One guy says, "This guy has it nailed. He's learned trial and error and has all the right ideas." I can tell when we get comments like that in the chat that there's a ton of good advice that people are going to enjoy for months to come when we post the recap.

Josh Ledgard: I always end these with a pitch for KickoffLabs I'm going to say. I'm also going to say, "You guys should definitely go check out their landing page and sign up if you're interested in finding great little places." So it's glpapp.com and we'll post that in the chat as well. You saw the landing page and you should definitely check it out.

Josh Ledgard: I'm curious. You know, as a customer of KickoffLabs, somebody who's been to a couple of our chats in the past, how would you define our why and what we're helping you do?

Rossa Shanks: KickoffLabs. Okay. Let me think about this. I would say...

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