Kelsey Falter is the founder and CEO of Poptip, which analyzes and synthesizes social conversation in real-time.
Strong intuition that facilitates efficient prioritization is important. Leading is not the same as chasing, so leaders must have strong opinions about direction and understand the most important initiative to tackle first especially when you have limited resources.
I’ve started having 1-on-1 meetings with each Poptip team member every two weeks. They talk about whatever they want for 15 minutes, and I talk about whatever I want for 15 minutes. This takes the guesswork out of a person’s happiness or their concerns and gets everything out on the table.
Word of mouth leading to referrals is still the most effective marketing tactic for us. In B2B sales, it truly is about building strong relationships that are worth talking about and passing along. By prioritizing verticalization, you can go deep in one market via word of mouth and allow one vertical to segue into another.
We started peer and personal performance reviews. A lot of our performance review questions came from “How I Learned to Let my Workers Lead” – an HBR case study about Johnsonville Sausages. Yes, really, sausages. It seems cliché or too traditional, but it’s a cathartic process for everyone. The review process enables you to improve yourself and your peers in a transparent way.
My teammate Stacey, who used to be my college roommate, and I started using [INFORMAL LABELS] in the subject line of all of our emails. Eventually the whole Poptip team started to adopt it. Now, regular emails like [SALES UPDATE] follow a specific format, and there are no questions or frantic Apple Mail searches trying to find information you’re looking for. It’s an efficient way to find emails, call out actions, and transform your email into a to-do or to-read list.
Our first sales came from our launch press. Then because our product is inherently social and public (despite being a B2B product), as more customers came on board, the more visible our product became. By focusing our efforts on working with brands who had the largest Twitter presences, Poptip benefited from high volume visibility and inbound leads. The key to optimizing inbound? Allowing companies to just log in and try the product. To this day, we don’t force people to “request a demo.”
Raising money is like dating. You cannot go around saying “Someone please marry me” expecting to get a date, and you can’t just browse through OkCupid profiles on your couch and think your soulmate will come to you. You have to be reasonably reserved and confident, but you also need to put yourself out there and explore the playing field. And just like dating, not every investment match will work out, but if you do it right, you’ll find best lead investor to build your business with.
We built a really strong relationship with some of our early users who happened to work at awesome companies. By really strong relationship, I mean we were on call literally 24/7 for these people. We did. not. stop. when it came to serving them – even to the point of hand verifying thousands of Tweets. Those users were not in the position to put budget behind a paid deal with us, but they were loud and proud about how they used Poptip. These types of people helped pave the way for relationships we now have within the sports vertical like ESPN, NFL, NBA, etc.
One of my friends who is an ex-Googler told me I should meet with his ex-Googler friend named Andy about a startup idea. I groaned. I procrastinated. I didn’t take the meeting because I thought I was too busy or something? I finally ended up taking the meeting after many back and forth emails. Needless to say, Andy and I ended up hitting it off. And now Andy is our head of Product Engineering. To this day, Andy still gives me crap about our rocky beginnings.