One of the strengths of startups and their entrepreneurs is the expertise they acquire as they work hard in the sector they want to revolutionize. Entrepreneurs usually have issues sharing this knowledge, these data, these secrets, because they are afraid that the competition will use them to overtake them, or that a competitor will copy them, or even be created thanks to these data.
However, the sharing of knowledge should not be restricted to certain companies, because they should all ultimately focus on education. This is a very important basis to build a trusted brand (and even an employer brand, which will be useful when recruiting quickly is the top priority), and this will automatically allow the possibility of acquiring customers who will have a better chance to be power users because they will be better informed.
However, in addition to the paranoia of plagiarism and competition, startups tend to leave external education aside because it can become quite time consuming, and will likely not bring anything in the short term.
Keeping one step ahead
Sharing expertise should no longer be a problem for startups who want to be leaders in their market or sector because:
- This shows that they are sovereign on a precise subject and that they want to educate people in the right way
- Those who take the knowledge of a startup to plagiarize it or use it in a bad way will always be 2 steps behind those leading the way.
Above all, it can turn into a great acquisition channel. As I explained to the Lions by The Family , the best startups often have 1 or 2 favorite acquisition channels. Between the research, testing and optimization, the quest is long to validate them, and creating your own channel can be very effective.
Turning it into an acquisition channel
There are several ways to do acquisition by making an expertise available in open source: collecting emails, progress in SEO, developing awareness and becoming a reference for a sector …
At Dreem, for example, our main expertise is sleep. Early 2017 with 500 BETA testers, we could harvest a basis of over 40,000 nights. This raw data and our many researches with the National Sleep Foundation allowed us to set up MySleepProfile a full, completely free sleep test that gives users the opportunity to know their sleep score in relation to the population average, and to receive personalized advice that can be easily activated during the day to adopt a healthy routine. In a short time, this test has become viral on Facebook as it was been completed over 50,000 times, moreover users do not hesitate to share or tag their loved ones and encourage them to know their sleep score.
AdEspresso, which is a powerful tool for creating successful Facebook ads, set up a “viewer” a few years ago to see all Facebook Ads posted by companies on the social network, in real time. They initially kept this data for themselves in order to get insights for improving their own product. After few months, they finally put it into an open source directory for everyone to see. Extremely useful for marketers looking for inspiration. This allowed them to raise awareness, increase trust, and since they asked for email addresses, they were able to acquire qualified leads (since those who were ready to give their email address were mostly marketers working on Facebook ads, it was the perfect target for AdEspresso)
Each sector : an opportunity
No matter the sector, B2B or B2C, there will always be a need for education and a certain type of content that you can turn into an acquisition channel.
Talent.io for example, the selective platform for engineers, finds work for more than 100 developers every month, making it a reference in recruitment. Building on their record, they know better than anyone what a TECH could ask in Paris, Berlin and London in terms of salary depending on the CV.
One idea would be to share this data by setting up a free questionnaire allowing junior developers who are constantly harassed on LinkedIn and have no idea what the current market trends are, to find out what remuneration they can ask, according to their profile and their desires.
You want your users to know that if you already give them good value for free, it will be awesome if they pay.
Although doing all of that is really time consuming, for all users you likely want to be seen as a company who has stellar service quality, under-promising and over-delivering. You want your potential users to know that if you already give them good value for free, it will be awesome if they pay. By giving away knowledge for free, you demonstrate your willingness to “pitch in and help” to potential clients.
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”
― Margaret Fuller