May 9, 2014
Before reading this post any further, you should know that this is the result of a very non-scientific and pretty silly experiment that I did for fun, after discussing how ludicrous some startup headlines were. Please dont get offended by any of this - this post is intentionally hyperbolic and plays with stereotypes.
After throwing out some crazy examples in a Skype chat with fellow founders such as How getting more sleep helped us raise a seed round, I decided to put a few tweets out on my @liamgooding and @trak_io accounts that pointed back to this cheeky blog post.
Sure - I pissed off some of my followers:
But also had a lot of people see it for what it was: a twitter CTR experiment that wasnt taking itself too seriously:
But it was worth it. This was good, light hearted fun, something to reflect about just how crazy we all are in this startup world.
Note: If you want to see some of the theory behind how we manufactured these headlines, checkout this post about headline structure.
The conclusion Ive drawn from the data youre about to see, is that were all looking for the hacks. The shortcuts. The non-obvious variables we can change to have a directly causal effect on helping us to get the things we really, really want: raising investment, getting MRR (and as youre about to see) getting a date!
And apparently, we dont care how silly or unlikely these hacks are.
If the headline seems like its a story, and a story with directly actionable advice, then well click it. We want to believe its possible to raise huge investment without a prototype. We want to believe that its possible to not go through YC, and still make a successful SaaS business.
Would you really believe that simply eating better could be directly responsible for a 247% increase in my startups MRR, in only 7 days?
Well, 17 people thought so:
The results of this experiment werent very well controlled. Tweets all went out at random times according to my buffer schedule and what time in the day I remembered to add a few more silly tweets.
Some also went out during a blip in buffers click tracking, so some click numbers are actually lower than the actual!
Also, the amount of variables being tested in each headline were probably too many, and not linked to a clear control.
Good scientific method aside, heres some numbers for context:
Heres the results - these are all direct screenshots out of my Buffer account for @liamgooding
Why are tech founders so obsessed with hacking their sleep? Since when did we all find machine learning easy, but getting 8 square hours of sleep so illusive?
Or perhaps the sexy part here was that we didnt need to go to all that effort of making a pesky prototype. I mean, tools like Marvel mean we only need a napkin and a smartphone but pfft, sounds like a lot of work for a mere $1million bucks, right!?
The 25 people who expected to 'hack instagram to boost their fund-raising seriously need to take a fresh look at their fund raising deck. Or their ego. Or maybe just unfollow tricksy twitter users like myself!
Or alternative theory: that was 25 people who wanted to have a good laugh at the author? Im holding out for that being the truth - for the sake of humanity.
Everyone loves a story about college kids becoming millionaires. And again, another vote for not having to make a prototype before raising money!
Most investors Ive spoken to want a working product, with traction so wouldnt it be great to find someone who will pay you just for an idea?
Making revenue seems like a very untrendy thing in startup land. What, you have a monetisation strategy? Dude stop being so corporate!
OK thats a huge stereotype of course, but why do we all still enjoy reading about pre-revenue startups who manage to trick the system with some secret tips and raise a ton of money to continue our grow huge, get acquired for the next 2 years, all the time sitting pretty in an Aeron chair, hoping that one of the most recent hires weve lured from Google will have an idea of how to sell our company back to her old boss.
And if we can find those secret tips from someone elses slide deck, something that only 'people on the inside got to see, then thats a bonus.
The idea that following a simple 9-step plan to change my breakfast might have a direct lift in my SaaS companies MRR is amazing. Wow, who knew eating granola could be so profitable!
the topic of 'life hacking is very popular and very real, with Tim Ferris leading the charge. However, sometimes there arent shortcuts. MRR is lifted by delivering an amazing product that people love, and throwing some hugely scaleable, high quality marketing at it.
Boostrappers seem to be becoming somewhat of a cult lately. Startups taking investment are seen as cheaters, doing startups the 'old skool way. Bootstrapping is the new Seed round.
So imagine, if you not only got to flip the finger to YC (imagine, you get to reject them - the most exclusive accelerator in the world!) but then you still go on to achieve more success than most YC companies get to!
Actually a mock reply from a follower after seeing what I was doing - but it proves that were willing to work through any list of advice, even if the advice is basically contradicting the very fact that we clicked through to read it!
Sexist or not - the fact is that this tweet was extremely popular! Maybe my followers were just impressed/shocked, or maybe they wanted to believe that being an aspirational SaaS founder really does improve your popularity with the ladies/gentlemen.
Maybe a Victoria Secret model is actually very technically switched on, regularly reads HN in between outfit changes, trolls reddit when parties get boring, loves to Buffer her selfies, manages tickets to club appearances with Eventbrite and has her accountant send her weekly reports directly in Xero.
Either way, its not true. And not likely. But Im proud to report Im engaged to a stunner, and I met her when I was a poor student :-)
These top people helped come up with the crazy headlines and the idea in the first place!