Marketing Monday: Lessons from Alexis Ohanian of Reddit, Breadpig and Hipmunk

While thousands of music fans watched bands and ate good food in the rain at New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, just a few blocks away, Launch Fest gathered a couple hundred entrepreneurs for talks about how to score investors and how NOLA can develop its tech-savvy talent pool.

I got fired up by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the presenters, including my Brooklyn neighbor, Alexis Ohanian, whose resume includes leadership at Reddit, Breadpig and Hipmunk. He’s also an ambassador for legendary start up accelerator Y Combinator and author of the book “Without Their Permission.”

Ohanian shared several lessons he’s learned, including:

1. Don’t overdo your launch, whether it’s a new business or a new product.

If you shoot the moon with a huge Hollywood-style launch, you set customer expectations too high. Instead, if you soft launch by telling people, “This is our first effort, we’d love your input,” they’ll be more willing to give you feedback and give you room to make some mistakes.

2. Take the time to appreciate and thank your customers.
Website form builder Wufoo had a team building exercise where every employee hand wrote thank you notes to their customers. Imagine getting a thank you note in the mail from a tech provider, Ohanian said. How much of an impression would that make?
He added that your earliest customers deserve special thanks for believing in you. Show them how much you appreciate them helping you achieve your goals.
3. When you’re building your website, you need it to be good enough so visitors don’t hit the back button — or click away to cat photos.
The Internet is full of temptations, including numerous cat photos Ohanian shared. If you don’t want visitors to your site to click on the back button so they can search for something else, or to bail out to look at cat photos, make your content and design compelling enough to stay.
The day included lots more advice and experience so check out my Storify round up of some of the day’s tweets below.

Launch Fest 2013 talks start ups in New Orleans

A couple hundred entrepreneurs (and want-to-be entrepreneurs) gathered at the New Orleans Museum of Art May 2, 2013. Here’s some of what they shared on Twitter.

  1. “Don’t wait for people to give you permission because they never will.” @alexisohanian #launchfest
  2. Networking hacks: Run an email list, host great dinners in your vertical. Be known in your space, suggests @paulsingh. #launchfest
  3. What I’ve learned at #launchfest so far…. 1. Figure out & follow my biz’s important metric 2. Build community into your product
  4. Great stuff from @delk at #launchfest. Legitimize yourself, find internal champions, empower them, ignore laggards, double down on traction.
  5. “It comes down to hustle, and just working your ass off.” @schlaf Steve Schlafman, Lerer Ventures @launchfest #LaunchFest
  6. “If you want to raise money ask for advice. If you want advice ask for money.” @rosshinkle via @longomr #launchfest
  7. My exclusive interview with Alexis Ohanion, co-founder of @reddit: youtu.be/WbDjXOTz-fY via @youtube #launchfest
  8. The only thing that could have made #LaunchFest better? Female speakers! Where are the women entrepreneurs? @LaunchFest @Launchpad


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