From High School Newbie to Pirate in Just One Month.

Every time I call my mom she asks me how I’m doing at my new job at CityHub. I started at CityHub about a month ago and that means already two months and counting in my traineeship Growth Hacking at The Talent Institute. My mom now — after those two months — roughly knows what growth hacking is about (or at least she thinks she does), but she still has a hard time explaining it to others. And I can’t blame her. For many more people around me, it is still a bit of a blur. And honestly, when I started my traineeship, I couldn’t say the definition of growth hacking (I mean, you can find several when searching Google) and, more specifically, how to successfully apply growth hacking was 100% clear to me.

Luckily the traineeship started with one full month of training at The Talent Institute. You would say that’s about enough time to get to the 100% and fully embrace the growth hacking mindset, right? Looking back at it I would say it definitely was. I am still surprised by how much I’ve learned in just this one month at The Talent Institute. Curious what I did learn? Let me talk you through my first month and give you a sneak peek on validating personas via Facebook, which I think is really cool.

So, the first month kicked off with two Culture Days”. It felt a bit like I was back at my first day at high school as a brugklasser”: I chose my nicest clothes to wear the night before, I came in 15 minutes early and I was a bit nervous. I walked in and faced a group of 25 other trainees.

We were about to be each other’s’ co-trainees, so let’s say soulmates”, for the coming 6 months and therefore, the culture days were meant to get to know each other better on a personal and professional level. And that worked out quite well :)

After those two days, we were introduced to the lean startup methodology by Roderik. A key takeaway: you always need to search for the problem-solution fit. If your product solves a problem that your customer doesn’t have, you are likely to fail as a company.
The first week ended with the Company Matching Event. One day, 29 speed-dates of 5 minutes with a variety of companies. Can you imagine having 29 small job interviews on one day? I can say it was tiring, once-in-a-lifetime and above all, extremely energizing. The first week ended with a well deserved borrel”.

And then we all became pirates.
The second week was all about the AAARRR framework and pirate metrics (yes pirate”, do you know why?). Basically, this framework is meant to define and measure the funnel your customer goes through. Per funnel element, there is this one metric that matters on which you focus. As a Growth Hacker, your job is not only to increase conversion in one phase, like awareness, but you also focus on increasing conversion in the other phases, like the retention phase for example. You can use techniques like the goal tree to define where to start; where in terms of which phase of the AAARRR funnel and what element to test with first.

One session was about personas. Because in order to optimize the funnel your customer goes through you need to know everything about your customer. And as we learned from the lean days: your customer must be at the centre of everything you do.

What was really cool about the first month was that we were able to begin our own startup in groups of three. The third week was mainly surrounded by this. For our own little startup we created the value proposition and our personas, we defined the AAARRR funnel and the business model canvas. But we also created a landing page, an email campaign and we ran our first experiments via Facebook. We got a little budget and a little time to make it work. 

We don’t have enough time, we don't have enough resources and we don't have enough traffic.

— The constraints facing all Growth Hackers.

But Why?
Our first experiment via Facebook was meant to validate our idea among the target audiences we did define. Customer validation is the second step of the Customer Development Model and is important because you find out whether your assumptions regarding customers are true or false. We tested two personas which we each proposed three of the core values (USPs) of our product (e.g. saves time”, saves money” etc.). After one iteration in which we got a clear core value winner” per persona, we went even more in-depth. What is it about this core value that triggers? Basically, we asked our customers another But, why?”.
After a few iterations, we had a pretty clear idea what especially triggered our target audience. Also because we took the freedom to just approach a few enthusiasts that commented on our posts to ask a few more But, why?” s. In the end, we figured out that we did create a product that our customer wanted to have, but for other main reasons compared to the ones that we had in mind. Surprisingly! 

This made me conclude: Facebook can be a really nice tool to use in the customer validation phase. Especially if you want to do it in a cheap way. And let’s be honest: who doesn’t want that?
I hear you wondering: Ok nice, sounds good, but what did you tell your mom? How is it at Cityhub?” I’ll tell you next time. But what I can say now is that I like it a lot! We are going to validate our newly defined personas and besides, there are many more great things ahead of us. Stay tuned :)

Guest blog by Fleur Griffioen.
Originally posted on

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