Whatup!? John from SEED here ✌🏻

So there’s a ton of stuff going on in the growth / marketing / traction space at the moment.

This post goes through a few thoughts on the topic.

We’ll finish the post off by listing out a bunch of resources to help you get-growing 😀

Quick definition

Growth hacking is simply doing activities that are specific to growing a certain metric. The outcome is no different than that of traditional marketing — however — the methods sought are much smarter.

Real world example

Lets say that you have a cool new watch that you want to bring to market. You have a very-basic prototype, but not a single customer yet.

The traditional way:

  • Spend a lot of money hiring a product team to build a viable product. A Minimum Viable Product, you could say.
  • Spend a lot of money hiring a marketing team, and doing PR to promote your product.
  • Let’s say, at a minimum, just to get it off the ground would cost $100k.
  • $70k on product development, and $30k on marketing.

The growthhacker way:

  • Spend some time hacking together a basic working prototype (say, using old phone parts).
  • Design a really nice looking 3D render of the final-product (say, by downloading a 30-day trial of 3Ds MAX and learning it with a Lynda.com trial).
  • Record a quick video explaining the product (using your iPhone).
  • Upload your video with some info on Kickstarter (by the way, there is no real product built yet).
  • Simultaneously validate your idea while getting people to fund it.
  • All for say <$1,000 dollars.

$1,000 compared to $100,000 to get it off the ground. Think about that for a second.

Well, in the case of Pebble Watch, they did think about it, for more than just a second. In fact, they initially put up a crowd-funding goal of $100k.

 It turns out there was such a demand for it, that they received over $10 million dollars in funding.


That’s growth hacking

Growth hacks come in many shapes and forms. Some are digital growth hacks that aim at acquiring new customers for free. Some are non-scalable, offline growth hacks that aim to increase customer loyalty. And some, like the above, are clever ways to validate, fund and launch an entire product.

Let’s check out some more examples

Below we’re going to skim through a series of well-known startups who all used unique growth techniques to get off the ground, and gain rapid traction.


Sheda uses design and emerging technologies like A.I and blockchain to solve complex problems that make and accelerate impact and bring about postive social change.


  • The founders rented out their own place and gave an exceptional experience, to build a highly regarded reputation early-on.
  • They hijacked Craigslist posts by manually re-posting Airbnb listings on Craigslist, which redirected back to Airbnb. Not only that, they helped touch up the posts, so that they converted higher than they would otherwise.
  • Airbnb offer people who list their place professional photography for their home. This gives the Airbnb site curated imagery, which is a much higher standard than other sites. In addition, the photos have “Airbnb verified” to increase the legitimacy of postings, and draw people to Airbnb when they see these photos on other sites.
  • Airbnb ask all users to share and review places they have stayed at. This ensures there’s only great hosts on the site, and allows the word to spread after users share their review on various social networks.



  • Zuck and team hacked the email accounts of Harvard students and emailed them to sign up.
  • Mark and team set the default homepage of hundreds of library and school computers to Facebook.
  • Facebook asks all users to “find your friends”.
  • This helped it scale it into the success it is today.



  • Tinder exclusively went after “frat” parties, which were admittance based. You had to download the app to get in to the party.
  • The app is super-simple to use (low barrier to entry with Facebook sign-in).
  • After a while, it grew organically by word of mouth. They did not send out mass emails or do Facebook Advertising.



  • Posted a three-minute (made-up) video demo.
  • Shared it online to the Digg audience (amongst others).
  • Went from 5,000 users on their beta list to over 75,000 in 24 hours.
  • https://youtu.be/7QmCUDHpNzE



  • Created a simple landing page with a waiting-list signup.
  • Launched beta to a select-group of signups.
  • Got featured on ProductHunt (and gained a lot of attention).
  • Acquired 17,000 users.



As you can see, growth-hacking is all about approaching growth in a smarter way. Instead of defaulting to paid-advertising on low-converting platforms, think of unique ways to gain a lot of attention on other channels like ProductHunt, Reddit, Digg, blog and the media.

Instead of building out an entire product, growth-hack it by creating a fake product-demo, validate whether people think it’s cool, then build out the real thing if they do.

Check out our board on Trello to for some great resources on this little thing called growth: https://trello.com/b/zfwF2jNT/growth-hacking


John Mitchell

@ Sheda

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