As an entrepreneur and growth hacker, I’m always chasing big growth numbers. That’s why I was so impressed to hear about Parse.ly, a data analytics company that isn’t just growing, but sustained 150 to 200 percent year-over-year growth since its inception in 2009.
Intrigued, I sat down with CEO and co-founder Sachin Kamdar for my podcast, Growth Everywhere, to see what lessons other growing companies can learn from Parse.ly’s success. His suggestions and recommendations don’t disappoint:
1. Find your high-value opportunities.
The impetus behind Parse.ly’s creation was that so many of today’s data tools focus on a single goal: that a website visitor will ultimately go on to make a purchase. So where does that leave companies such as Buzzfeed and Cheezburger, which command mountains of traffic based on the success of their content, but have little to do with the traditional conversion model?
Though Parse.ly went through a few iterations, it’s ultimately come to focus on generating clear insights from a company’s content to help media companies understand how audiences engage with their websites and what can be done to grow these audiences in the future.
In the case of Cheezburger, Parse.ly was able to use its data analysis tools to determine that the meme giant was overspending on areas that weren’t really providing value to its readers. With Parse.ly’s analysis, Cheezburger was able to better predict which content pieces would go viral in the future, leading to better audience engagement and greater profitability.
No matter what industry -- and whether you use Parse.ly or not -- it’s critical that you learn to hone in on your own high-value opportunities to minimize the amount of time and effort spent on projects and priorities that won’t move the needle for your business. Data analysis is an important part of this process, but remember that it’s only useful if you act on the trends you uncover.
2. Learn how to motivate teams.
Kamdar came to entrepreneurship from an educational background, which allowed him to use his interest in motivating students to inform the way he motivates employees. One of the ways he goes about doing this is to hire the best people and to put the responsibility on them to set their own tasks and achieve their goals, believing that doing so helps them internalize why they’re doing something and take ownership for their success in their current roles and careers.
Whether you have employees or not, learning to motivate people is a critical part of entrepreneurship. While your ability to motivate your workers certainly plays a direct role in your company’s success, as turnover comes with serious costs and consequences, motivating your customers to buy and investors to fund your company can be just as important.
3. Leverage your network.
Kamdar attributes much of his early success with Parse.ly to his ability to use both investors and LinkedIn to build his network and score important introductions, and he offers two suggestions to others who want to do the same:
- Opt for a professional membership. Doing so will give you the ability to receive in-mails and access more information about potential contacts.
- Use Newsle to keep track of connections. When you see someone in your network getting press, reach out.
4. Continually reflect on your progress and goals.
MBAs are often taught to come up with a business plan and see it through to the end. Entrepreneurs know that waiting that long to reflect and make any necessary challenges can put a growing company out of business.
“The challenge to making it through the tough times is staying persistent and figuring out what the right path is in an opportunistic way," Kamdar says. "In practice, it means continually reflecting, once every month or quarter, on where you are as a company, what resources you have and where you want to go.”
5. Never give up.
At the 23rd hour of Parse.ly’s first round of $800,000, a major investor pulled out, forcing Kamdar to seriously consider closing things up. Fortunately, after a few more investor meetings, Kamdar found another investor who was willing to write a check on the spot, allowing the company to avert what could have been a major funding crisis.
Whether the challenges your company faces are quite this dramatic, or whether your frustrations are more the slowly-simmering type, never give up. Timing and luck matter, but if you’re able to stay in the game longer, you’ll have more opportunities for timing and luck to make a difference.
Want to hear my full conversation with Kamdar? Check it out at the link below:
If you’ve got your own experience to share based on one of these lessons, I’d love to hear it. Leave me a message in the comments section below with your stories.