Tag Archive: startups


Should I Run Ads For My Startup? (Growth Stage)

Image credit: Mark Richards

By Elizabeth

This is a continuation of a 2 part series on whether to run ads for your startup.  Part 1 talked about running ads pre product/market fit.  This week’s post assumes your startup has achieved product/market fit and is in its growth stage.

Once you reach product/market fit, you should know roughly what your user acquisition funnel looks like and something about the lifetime value (LTV) of your customer.  You still may need some major experimenting and reworking, but you should have a rough order of magnitude of your numbers.

Who does well with paid marketing?Read the rest


Should I run ads for my startup? (pre product/market fit)

Time is Money

Image credit: Nina Matthews Photography

By Elizabeth

I often get questions from other startups about whether they should be running ads and if so, why and when.  Startups largely fall into 2 categories: pre-product/market fit and growth stage.  The purposes for running ads at these two stages are very different.  This post focuses just on pre product/market fit, and next week, I’ll talk about the latter.

Pre product/market fit: 

If your company is pre-product/market fit, your goal is to find a product or service that meets a need, that your customers love, and that you can scale.  Startups often fail, because they try to scale before they find product/market fit.… Read the rest


Happy belated 1st birthday LaunchBit!

By Elizabeth

LaunchBit retreat

Photo credit: Audrey Cu

Wow, time has flown!  I just noticed the date on the calendar — it’s been over 1 year since we released the first iteration of LaunchBit, which at the time was simply a service that helped advertisers manually place ads in a variety of relevant newsletters.   No technology, just a test of demand.

We’ve come a long ways since our days in the 500Startups accelerator program.  We’ve built out a cost-per-click auction system, dashboards, and a number of algorithms for  fraud checking and ad targeting.   We’ve worked with fantastic publishers and advertisers, who have helped us get better with constant feedback and patience.… Read the rest


How we hire

By Elizabeth


Photo credit: Techi

Making our first full-time hire was really nerve-wracking.  Finding someone really sharp AND would fit in super well was going to be a challenge.  So, for full-time candidates, we’ve adopted what companies like Pulse and Hubspot do.  We work with potential candidates on a contract basis first before extending a full-time offer.  Having done this a few times now, I *love* their method.  Our process from start to finish is pretty simple.  First, we screen resumes and interview people.  If we find someone we think we’d love to hire, we’ll work out a temporary contract to see if there’s a good fit on both sides.… Read the rest


Boston is an up-and-coming startup scene

By Elizabeth Yin

Lean Startup Challenge

These past few days, I’ve been back in Boston, where there are a number of exciting entrepreneurship programs happening right now. Last Friday, I gave a talk on customer development at the kickoff session for the first ever Lean Startup Challenge. This Challenge is a revolutionary idea to me. It’s a six week entrepreneurship competition that is based on learning/iteration/progress in building a company. Unlike traditional business plan competitions, which are all about research, projections, and writing, the Lean Startup Challenge is about doing and learning. Because it’s a six week duration, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some momentum of real businesses coming out of the competition.… Read the rest


Designing search usability for DressMob



By Jennifer

When Elizabeth and I launched Shiny Orb, a comparison shopping site for wedding apparel, we had thousands of dresses. So, it was a no-brainer we needed search to help people hone in on the perfect dress.  We created an attribute search that allowed people to search by length, neckline, and strap styles as well as price and later by color.

This past summer, we started DressMob, a social shopping site for dresses. The selection on DressMob would be even bigger, so we wanted to create a better search. We decided to draw from usability on Shiny Orb as an initial starting point for building this search on DressMob, so we had a number of considerations:  


How big should the search box be? 


On Shiny Orb, we have a drop down menu allowing people to show 20, 40, 65, 100 results.Read the rest


Secrets to Building an Online Forum Community: Going from 0 to Millions of unique visitors

By Elizabeth

Recently, a new entrepreneur asked me for strategy advice on growing an online forum community.  How do you get initial users to post?  How much do you seed the forum yourself/with friends?  How frequently do posts need to happen for the community to take off?  And how long should you continue working on building your forum community before you change directions?

Honestly, I was not qualified to talk about any of this, but I shared with him some thoughts that others have shared with me.  Today, I’ll share two stories from two different friends on how they grew their respective online forum communities.… Read the rest


Crowdsourcing with Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

By Elizabeth

Someone recently asked me to discuss companies like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk.  If you’re just starting your company, it can be a great way to get some of the more tedious tasks done in a quick way.

Quick background:

Mechanical Turk is an on-demand platform for work, where you can submit jobs, and workers on these platforms will do your job for an extremely low cost.  In many cases, we’re talking on the order of pennies.  This labor-on-demand concept is a bit vague, but basically, you can submit any job that can be done on the web.  Examples include: categorizing retail items to be “red” or “green” or asking people to do some quick web research and write down the results.  Most gigs are mini, taking seconds or minutes to do.  Workers who do these gigs come from all over the world, so your gig can be done while you’re asleep.… Read the rest