Distribution for Noobs By A Noob

This post is part of the ongoing Distribution Tuesday series. Every week the 500 Distribution Team highlights actionable resources for marketing your startup and today’s featured post is by our summer distribution intern, Samantha. Get even more tips by following @500Distribution on Twitter and subscribing to our email newsletter

Want to join our next batch of startups? Apply NOW for our Fall Accelerator. 

Day 56 of my summer internship at 500:

The past 56 days have been a haze of free flow espresso and fruit snacks. Everyone seems to have forgotten my name. They call me Intern now. Is that my name? I don’t even know anymore. SEND HELP.

But seriously, it’s been nearly two months since I started working at 500 and I can’t believe it! Batch 6 has reached the final level of the accelerator and are taking on the Demo Day boss battles. I’m two out of three months in and I’ve probably learned more than I have in the past four semesters at school; I’ve met the AWESOME 500 team (even though they’ve forgotten my name), mentors from all over the 500 family, the super swag Distribution team (REPRESENT!), the “f-ckin’ awesome” Batch 6 and many, many others. It’s been a heck of a ride and it’ll be hard to head back to school after such an amazing summer.

But that’s enough of that story.

What the heck is distribution? A story by me.

Before I came to 500, I had absolutely NO knowledge about distribution. I was a level 1 Distribution noob, dropped headfirst into a world filled with things I had no idea about. Landing pages, Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and Sponsored tweets were unexplored lands. There were these weird monsters with names like SEO, SEM, LTV, CPA, CPM, CR and the weapon store included things like funnels (I thought these were only used for SCIENCE?!), Webmasters, graphs, charts, eye tracking heat maps and so much more for higher level Distribution warriors and wizards.

So what was a noob to do?

ANSWER: Spend my days killing chickens*.

This was essentially reading EVERYTHING about distribution that I could. What’s amazing is that growth hackers are CRAZY about sharing their experiences and knowledge. To fit into the RPG analogy, they’d be the NPCs (non-player characters) who stand around and tell you how to punch chickens or give you boxing gloves to punch chickens. Notable growth hackers like Noah KaganAndrew ChenNeil Patel, metrics companies like MozMixpanelKISSmetrics and Keen.io are goldmines for information about distribution.

But if you know anything about RPGs, you know that these NPCs won’t baby you till you become a level 100 Distribution Jedi. They’ll point you in the right direction, recommend some tools then send you on your way. I quickly learned this after reading blog post after blog post and listening to podcasts, videos, talks, anything I could get my hands on… and I also realized that I’d plateaued.

I was stuck at level 10 and I was going nowhere.

Why? After speaking to all these growth hackers in person, trying to steal some of their experience and knowledge in exchange for coffee, I found one thing that all of them had in common. They didn’t study “growth hacking” in school. They didn’t get to where they were by reading TechCrunch or watching Growthhacker.tv. They were all thrown into the water, told to “GROW” something and then left to their own devices.

And that’s exactly what they did. They cold called dozens of people to gain users or contributors to the product. They A/B tested landing pages countless times to optimize their funnels. They tried out a BAJILLION keywords before finding the right few.

And that was how they became awesome. There’s no secret to growth hacking. You can read as much as you want, but you never actually start learning until you try it out for yourself. There is no set landing page that will get a 100% conversion rate. A one page conversion funnel doesn’t always mean a 90% click through rate. Changing your button from red to green doesn’t always give you a 20% increased conversion rate.

Case Study:

Rand Fishkin at Moz said that their content marketing strategy was to educate people on their blog about SEO. This showed their expertise and helped them gain many high value users.

Michelle Wetzler at keen.io said that their most effective content marketing strategy was to blog about their own personal content and to tell a story. A post about her journey from consulting to the world of startup drives more traffic than an educational post on their blog.


Conclusion: There are no set rules to growth hacking. Find out what works for YOU.

You’re on your own, man.

How can YOU Get Started Growth Hacking?

I could write an article about Distribution for Noobs like I was supposed to. But I’m not going to. (YOLO) I’m going to tell you to stop reading this article and to go out there and start a blog. Open a Shopify account. Dust off your twitter feed. And DO SOMETHING. Grow your user base to 200. Get 300 followers on Tumblr. Sell a bunch of shit. Get to work, dammit!

Growth hacking as a process is simple. It’s finding a problem. It’s testing to optimize. It’s finding what works. That’s it! Of course, it’s not going to be easy to achieve that elusive magical growth unicorn, but it’s your job as the growth hacker to look for it’s trail and hunt it down. It’s as simple as finding out which tweets are receiving the most engagement. What time are you releasing these tweets? Is there specific content within these tweets that seems to be interesting to a large percentage of your user base? What blog titles get the most views? How are you wording your blog titles? Is there a specific font in your email marketing campaign that has the highest click through rate? TEST.

And Now, A Word From The Masters.

Gagan Biyani, co-founder of Udemy and the Growth Hackers Conference and mentor at 500, told me that growth hacking is marketing with a LOT of analytics. You’ll need to know the technical basics (things like what drives SEO, how to set up Google Analytics, Adwords, etc. all of which you can find on the internet), but the most important thing is that you need to analyze your target market. You need to know what they’re thinking, where they are and how to access them most effectively.

If you’re starting a Shopify account to sell your grandma’s knitted sweaters, Facebook Ads targeted at boys aged 10-14 aren’t going to be effective. “But there are only 15 people who liked the page ‘knitted sweaters’!” You say. Be creative! Try people who liked “Hipster fashion” or “KnitZy Handmade Fashion Accessories”. Provided you’re selling something that people actually want (RULE #1 of the Startup Handbook), your target market is out there and you’re going to need to figure out what channels are most effective.

Andrew Chen, the super blogger who made the term “growth hacker” fashionable and mentor at 500, told me, the poor intern who just wanted some small contribution to the Distrosnack bar, that he hates tips and tricks about growth hacking. He asked me if I had a blog. I said yes. He asked me how many followers I had. Where was I going to get followers? Have I posted on Dashboard yet? How many followers did I have on twitter? Did I have an email campaign?


Just kidding. Kind of.

What he meant was that ANYONE can growth hack. Start a blog. Share the link with all your friends! Write about something interesting people would want to read about (but it should also be something you enjoy writing about). Install Google Analytics (It’s free!). Spread the word via twitter. Interact with people who have many twitter followers and get them to retweet you. Get 1000 page views. Celebrate with cake.

Now you ain’t a noob no’ mo’!

So, to all those distribution noobs out there looking to become full grown growth hackers: What I learnt from all these amazing people is that growth hacking is all about learning from experience. Read blog posts and tips from the internet as a foundation but don’t expect to get a 50% conversion rate from following everything you’ve read. You need to try it out for yourself and fail and FAIL HARD before you find out the secret to growth for your product. Try out different channels to grow, whether it’s views on your WordPress blog, Twitter followers, Facebook page likes, or sales on a Shopify account selling your grandma’s knitted sweaters… Whatever works for you! Just remember to test smart, analyze A SH!T TON, and then test more!

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” – A wise man once said and that wise man isn’t Kelly Clarkson, it’s Friedrich Nietzsche. PSYCH.


Intern, out!

* Chickens are normally the lowest level creatures in RPGs. So you go around and punch them until you get enough EXP to become AWESOME.
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How to Hack Distribution for AngelList and Get MORE MONEY

This post is part of the ongoing Distribution Tuesday series. Every week the 500 Distribution Team highlights actionable resources for marketing your startup. Get even more tips by following @500Distribution on Twitter and subscribing to our email newsletter.

AngelList is easily one of the most disruptive platforms available to start-ups today. It is potentially ahead of its time, but lucky for us, “Oh, these times they are a-changing.” The big gears at the SEC are turning, and as a result, pointing to a pending shift in how start-ups and investors can raise money. Yes, this might actually work. So are you ready to take full advantage of AngelList?


By way of background, I recently had a tough run with fundraising—like most founders today. You read a great deal about companies receiving huge amounts of cash on crazy terms, but the truth is that most companies don’t have this experience. Instead, it’s a brutal fight for every dollar. As the traditional channels had stopped working for me, I turned to AngelList. Heck, I even turned to craigslist to sell extra equipment for cash—but that’s a whole other story.

Over the course of a few months, I added 1,000+ followers to my company’s and personal AngelList’s profiles. We received 90 introductions from investors and actually managed to raise some decent cash purely via those introductions. This was something completely different from climbing up Sand Hill Road. Indeed, something much better.

Based on my recent experience, here are my recommendations along with some things I’d have done differently.

Looking Good

Hey, guess what? Looks and presentation do really matter. In fact, having a great presentation and some semblance of a brand is actually the price of entry for start-ups today. The same goes for AngelList, so make sure your profile is complete, well thought out, and presents your company in the best possible light. This is the first step to getting distribution and attracting the right investors. Some general tips include:

  • Have really kick-ass team AngelList profiles. Ensure every key member of your team has a good photo and bio that establishes why they all are kick ass.
  • The “Product” text area is your chance to quickly inform an investor exactly what your company does. Avoid too many buzzwords and jargon and instead, make quick, bold statements. This is also a good  chance to add a link to additional information or to reviews of your company. Keep this to around 250 words total.
  • Add the customers and press if you have either. Capture all important press events here and show that you’re able to create small news cycles that extend beyond your launch.
  • Do not be shy. Be upfront with your traction and your success. Stop hiding this critical material deep within your presentation materials and AngelList profile. Let it be free, especially if you have data points worth bragging about.

Regarding the images that appear on your profile, it’s best to nail the following:

1) Website Screenshot or Product Photo

Your first inclination may be to throw up a website screenshot. This is OK in most cases, unless your website is incredibly unsexy and not terribly compelling. Regardless, make sure it’s a nice high-quality screenshot roughly around the size/scale of 1020×574. This size should look good in both the small preview and larger image when clicked. If you’re shipping a physical product, here’s the best place to show your highest-quality product photo. This is your glamour shot!


2) Big-Ass Traction Graph


/via Wittlebee

Remember how we discussed the need to stop being shy? Show the damn numbers, ring the freaking cash register, or do something to demonstrate your hard work—preferably in graph format that is going up and to the right. It doesn’t have to be “hockey sticking,” but I hope you’re able to show some degree of month-over-month growth.

3) Team Photo

Here’s something you don’t see much on AngelList profiles: big high-quality photos of the team behind the company. I realize the team members’ profile photos also appear further down the page, but the team is extremely important to investors. As such, you might want to consider a pseudo-professional group shot or something that reinforces authority in your vertical.

4) UI/UX + Multi-Screens

/via Outbox

OK, fine. I understand you’re quite proud of some of the little buttons and other UI tricks in your app. These probably mean very little to investors, but it’s still OK to show them off. If your app works across multiple screens, you’ll also want to show all those form factors in one shot.

5+) Culture and/or Customers 

Just as with the team photo, here’s where you can further illustrate the people behind the company and company culture or feature marquee customers who are using your product. Make it look relatable and as though their money can help you gain more customers and users just like them.

Always Be Hiring

AngelList also allows you to post job openings in your company. This feature is great for several reasons. To start with, you’ll get extremely well-qualified prospects to review. So even if you’re not hiring today, this is great way to start narrowing down candidates or to begin getting to know who’s on the market. Furthermore, companies that are hiring get featured on the AngelList homepage and elsewhere more often. It’s not bad for optics, too, for investors to see you building out the team.

Getting Distribution

Let’s get right down to it and talk about how to maximize distribution and investor reach. Your mileage will vary. But here are some general techniques I have used or seen other founders take great advantage of.

Use the Native Follow Buttons:

Like most social networks, AngelList offers follow buttons that can be embedded on a website or blog. I highly recommend using them and placing them in every relevant location. Some good examples of where you might include them is on your “About Us” page and author byline or even in the footer of your website. You can locate these buttons under your company page by clicking the “Embed” link.

Put It in the Signature:

Another great location to place your AngelList profile link is in the signature of your e-mail. If your brand is more consumer focused, you can also set up a separate e-mail signature that is more investor themed. In this case, strip out all the extra junk and simply include a single link to your AngelList profile with a call to action to follow you.

Use CRM and Mailchimp for Investors:

Keeping track of investors is not easy. Are they reading your e-mails? Have you kept in touch after the initial introduction? Some easy ways to better manage these communications is with a Gmail plugin called Streak (http://streak.com) or with the well-loved e-mail marketing tool MailChimp. Within MailChimp or most ESPs (e-mail service providers), you can easily set up and manage a list of investor leads. Using a service like this allows you to see which investors open your e-mails and when to set up autoresponders to automate some of your communications. Of course, this also gives investors an easy way to unsubscribe if they no longer want to hear from you. If that happens, it’s likely a strong signal they’re not going to write that check.

Build Something Cool with the AngelList API

Do you have some developer capabilities?  Set them loose on the AngelList API. Here is one of the more underutilized APIs out there, so it’s ripe for innovation. In my case, I set up Angel5, a simple blog that sorts and ranks investors by region, market, and other factors. This weekend project generated press, investor interest, and much more for us. What can you do to impress investors and give back to other founders in your same position?

Get To Know the AngelList Staff

The team at AngelList works extremely hard to feature and help the start-ups on its platform. If your start-up is generating enough interest from investors, the AngelList staff actually actively reach out. For some start-ups, they help promote you through their e-mail and other channels. You can also reach out anytime, and you’re likely to find they are ready and willing to point you in the right direction or assist in other ways.

Coordinate Your Perfect Storm

Here’s where it all comes together. Creating that “perfect storm”-like campaign is the Holy Grail for most marketing efforts. In the case of AngelList, you probably want to time this for the beginning of your fundraising efforts or at a point when you need that extra push. Think of ways you can generate a great deal of interest in a short window of time. The best way to start is to approach existing investors (if applicable) and to have them follow and share your profile on AngelList. Next, you want to encourage them and any investors you speak with to click the “’I’m Interested” option located under the follow buttons. This is the strongest signal you can send to AngelList and the best way to influence its trending algorithms. It’s also important that high-quality investors express interest in your company. More information on that is available here.

Generally I would recommend dedicating a specific day to growth for your AngelList page. That’s the day you want to beg politely ask for a follow, reshare or more. In other words, call in a few favors and ask your existing investors to do the same with their own networks.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 1.45.02 PM

While there are no silver bullets to achieving success on AngelList, or for fundraising in general, I hope these tips help. Above all, your focus should be on finding the right investors for your start-up and getting the ones with a high degree of authority engaged with your profile. It’s not easy, but it sure beats awkwardly waiting in those lobbies on Sand Hill Road.


Best of luck.

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The Data Behind Purchasing Behavior at UserVoice – Pricing for Conversion (Part II)

This post was contributed by Richard White, founder & CEO of UserVoice, a leading customer feedback & support platform. He’ll speak at the next unSEXY conference on Friday, August 9. Register NOW.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found with running a SaaS business is the lack of real data put out there about how mechanics changes to the sign up funnel impact key conversion metrics. For my UnSexy Conf talk last year I wanted to do what I could to contribute what we’ve learned at UserVoice over the various changes we’ve made, to both our sign up process and to our pricing model itself.

I’ll be giving a follow-up to that talk this year but I wanted to catch everyone up on what was covered last year. In part 1, we covered the impact of usage limits, introduction of paid plans, and things like not requiring credit cards on sign up. Here in Part II we’ll cover what’s proved to be the biggest, and most fruitful, change we’ve ever made and more. So without further ado, here is the final chapter from my 2012 UnSexy Talk:

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By far the biggest change we made was when we launched our Helpdesk product back in 2011.

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We saw this as an opportunity to address what was the biggest issue with our feature-based pricing plans: that the pricing gaps between the plans limited upgrades (which is why we attempted our failed foray into usage limits).

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We would do this by switching to a per-seat pricing model that’s common with Helpdesk software. This meant lower base prices but a much greater opportunity to grow the account value over time. This works well for Helpdesks because the relationship between support agents and support load is pretty linear. It was a risk for us because we’re more than a Helpdesk – a lot of what made UserVoice valuable is that the relation between people reviewing feedback (usually product managers & community managers) and people giving feedback scales exponentially (you could administer a UserVoice forum with 100K people with one user and 1MM people with potentially only two). However we felt it was worth the risk (and because we also valued the engagement / brand awareness that our feedback product offered for us).

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It was a smashing success. Our goal was to increase upgrades and we did to the tune of 242%. What we didn’t count on what that downgrades decreased by 22% and account retention (at 14 months post sign up) was up 26%.

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We still handed out discounts (14% of accounts) but because the base prices were lower these discounts now averaged only 31%. However under these new plans we only saw at 3% reduction in LTV but a 24% increase in retention for these discounted plans.

TAKEAWAY: Pricing is all about integrating the area under a curve: the more discrete points you have the better job you’ll do of maximizing the value (revenue) you capture. However there’s only so many points you can have if you have plan/featured based pricing. The holy grail of any SaaS service is finding a usage vector (or two) that allows you to increase those points while maintaining a pricing simplicity customers can understand.

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Though we saw that most accounts would get setup in the first week of their 30 day free trial there were always some folks that needed extra time. We formalized a process to enable our customer team (account reps & support) to give anyone trial extensions if they had a real need (more time for testing, or integration, or billing authorization). This was a pretty successful policy as folks that received a trial extension were 2.5X more likely to convert and 5X more likely to upgrade at some future point. This is likely because the accounts that take the longest to setup are often those from large companies (who have more internal hurdles to jump over).

TAKEAWAY: Being flexible with trial extensions pays off in a big way.

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Another successful change was to change how we handled existing paid accounts that had a billing issue and were to be downgraded. In the past we would just downgrade those accounts to a Free plan, send an email and that was it. From talking to some customers we realized that some people would get downgraded and not notice that their functionality had changed.

Thus we changed to putting accounts into a “deactivated” state that acted much like a Free plan downgrade but had a big banner at the top of the page to let the customer know that functionality had been lost and gave them a single click to “reactivate” back to their original plan. This one change increased reactivations from billing related downgrades by 50%!

TAKEAWAY: Make it obvious when people are auto-downgraded and make it more than easy for them to recover (duh, I know).

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The saga (and the data) will continue at this year’s UnSexy Conf on August 9th where I’ll be diving into changes from this last year including:

  • Migrating $5 plans to free

  • Not running billing on the weekends

  • Even bigger pricing changes (see uservoice.com/plans for a sneak preview)

  • … and much more

I hope to see you there!

PS Here are all the slides from both Part I and II of this talk: http://www.slideshare.net/uservoice/pricing-for-conversion-data-on

Richard White is founder and CEO of UserVoice, the complete software solution for understanding users and keeping them happy with great support. Prior to founding UserVoice, Richard served as the lead designer on Kiko.com, a Y-Combinator-funded calendaring product that drew praise for its clean design. Passionate about building simple productivity tools that delight users, Richard’s expertise lies in UI design and UX,  but in a past life he graduated with a BS in computer science from North Carolina State University.

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The Data Behind Purchasing Behavior at UserVoice – Pricing for Conversion (Part I)

This post was contributed by Richard White, founder & CEO of UserVoice, a leading customer feedback & support platform. He’ll speak at the next unSEXY conference on Friday, August 9. Early bird ticket sales end TONIGHT at 11:59pm, PST, so REGISTER NOW and save.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve found with running a SaaS business is the lack of real data put out there about how mechanics changes to the sign up funnel impact key conversion metrics. For my unSEXY Conf talk last year I wanted to do what I could to contribute what we’ve learned at UserVoice over the various changes we’ve made, to both our sign up process and to our pricing model itself.

I’ll be giving a follow-up to that talk this year but I wanted to catch everyone up on what was covered last year. So without further ado here is, in chronological order, the various changes we made and data we have on outcomes.

UnSexy 2012 - Pricing for Conversion.009

UserVoice was a completely free product for the first 10 months of it’s (public) existence and had a pretty healthy 39% month-over-month growth in account sign ups.

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We cut that growth in half overnight simply by announcing that we were going to being introducing paid plans. You couldn’t even yet sign up for them – just fill out a lead form. It should also be noted that these new plans, for the most part, included features that weren’t currently available.

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This was alarming. However a further analysis showed that we double the rate of active accounts after 30 days. So basically all we had done was drive away users that probably weren’t the best fit for our service.

One other thing to note is that once we did launch paid plans people that had signed up prior to their introduction converted to paid plans at roughly ¼ the rate of accounts that signed up after the plans were introduced. This is probably partly due to the fact that our plans were mainly feature, not usage, based so once you got up and running there was very little incentive to check out new premium features (like custom design, etc).

TAKEAWAY: Launching pricing earlier can help you find the real customers of your service and not be distracted by tire kickers.

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We originally announced only two paid plans (priced at $289 & $589 / mo) but we got a lot of feedback (via our own UserVoice forum) that people wanted sub-$100 plans.

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We listened and added those at launch leaving us with 5 plans.

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However we found 77% of our revenue came from two of these plans: Gold ($589/mo – 35% of revenue) and Bronze ($89/mo – 42%). The Silver plan ($289/mo) was what I call a “wedge plan”: it didn’t have a ton of extra features over Bronze as it was simply designed to make it easier for you to either stay at $89 or justify making the jump to $589 (“Gold has so many more features than Silver why not pay the extra amount”). Tin ($19/mo) had a lot of accounts but at such a lower price point (relative to the others) it was never going to be a significant amount of revenue.

TAKEAWAY: Some pricing plans exist simply to make other plans look better.

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Because we serviced a lot of young companies (non-profits & government agencies) we heavily utilized discounts to give them access to our plans at price points they could afford.

We had 13% of paid accounts on some sort of discount (if we exclude folks on 100% discounts through various incubator / grant programs) with an average discount of 52%. Not surprisingly the LTVs on these discounted accounts were lower (17%) than non-discounted accounts. But this is offset by the fact that (at the time of this analysis) they were also 17% less likely to have churned.

TAKEAWAY: Discounts can be a useful tool for driving conversions without undermining long term LTV. However heavy usage might signal issues with your pricing structure.

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At one point early on we tried having usage limits on the number of users who could give you feedback be part of our plan structure. Since most of our plans were feature based we saw very few upgrades post-trial. We wanted to add usage limits so that we could drive upgrades that scaled as the account scaled up it’s activity.

This was a huge failure. It created what I call a success penalty: the more successful you were in activating your users to give you feedback the more expensive the product became. On some level this made sense but since no one knew how to estimate this future usage it just created uncertainty about committing to a product without knowing the future cost of it. It was especially problematic because we were often working with young companies who didn’t know or were very optimistic about their future active user levels (and equally optimistic about what % of them would engage on UserVoice and give them feedback). It put us in the awkward position of tempering a customer’s enthusiasm about their use of our product (aka “There’s no way you’ll have 300K people on your site in 60 days time”).

When we removed the usage limits, which were designed to drive upgrades, we actually saw that upgrades increased 33%!

TAKEAWAY: If you’re going to price on usage it needs to be on usage the customer has control over (number of seats, minutes used, etc)

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At one point move from a 15 day free trial to a 30 day free trial. This had no measurable impact on any metric that we track. We kept it at 30 days purely for marketing reasons.

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 Moving from requiring a credit card up front to not requiring a credit card (until the end of the trial) had no effect on overall conversions.

The general view is that not requiring a credit card up front is good for new services where customers don’t quite know the value of a service. So this switch may have been more beneficial if we had made it earlier but by this point UserVoice was pretty well established and you knew what you were getting into. One group that really loved this switch was our support team – they now had a lot less angry emails from customers who had auto-converted (since you had to remember to close your account before the trial ended or be charged) and needed a refund (which we always gave).

Phew! That’s a lot to digest but yet we’re only halfway there. In Part II (coming out tomorrow) we’ll cover a whole new set of experiments including our most successful one ever.

And if you enjoyed this content then you’ll want to be at this year’s UnSexy conference on August 9th where I’ll be diving into changes from this last year including:

  • Migrating $5 plans to free

  • Not running billing on the weekends

  • Even bigger pricing changes (see uservoice.com/plans for a sneak preview)

  • … and much more

I hope to see you there!

Come back tomorrow for Part 2, where Richard dives even deeper into the unSEXY world of pricing!

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Batch 007 – License to FAIL. Applications Now Open to Join 500’s Fall 2013 Accelerator

Spanning the globe is the ultimate, most badass team of secret agents that has ever existed. They’re known only by a mysterious codename: M500.

Their goal: find new talent wherever it lies, train founders and startups to achieve the impossible, and establish a worldwide network of ultra-cool entrepreneurs who like it shaken, not stirred.

We’re on a mission to build our next team of secret agents, Batch 007, and we’re searching the globe to find the best candidates. Recruits selected to enter training will gain access to current #500Strong agent network with with hubs in Silicon Valley, NYC and Mexico City. They’ll also make tons of money, have fun, and might even go on top-secret missions to markets in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and other locales.

Do you have what it takes? Take this helpful quiz from the M500 agent handbook:

    • Do you want to make your startup BLOW UP with funding from the world’s best secret agents?



  • Are you dying to be part of our #500STRONG global network of founders and mentors?




  • Want to work in the (not very) secret M500 lair in the heart of Silicon Valley?




  • Are you daring enough to be assigned the toughest mission of them all : demo days in Mountain View, SF and NYC ?



If you answered yes to all these questions, you might be badass enough for Batch 007.

Beginning today, July 16th, you can apply to be considered for our Fall 2013 Accelerator Program. All you need is an AngelList profile and a desire to kick ass around the world. A cool car helps, too.

How do I apply? Starting now, you’ll be able to submit your application through angel.co/500startups.

When is the deadline? We’ll accept applications through August 16th at 11:59pm PST. Get started sooner rather than later – aspiring agents who miss the deadline will be out of luck.

When will I hear back from 500? Throughout the application process, our crew will reach out to companies to conduct interviews. We will likely make final decisions by September 9th, but that date is subject to change. Secret side missions may alter these dates slightly.


Applications open TODAY and will remain open until August 16th – we’ll be reviewing applications and reaching out to promising companies throughout the application process, including interviews.

We’ll likely be doing interviews starting August 26th. Decisions will likely be made during the week of September 9th. The first day of the Fall 2013 batch will be probably be October 7th.

These dates are all subject to change, but this is what we’re shooting for.

What kinds of companies does M500 look for? Being international, our group includes founders from everywhere, with all different kinds of backgrounds. We’re looking for companies with strong teams, clear revenue models, and a focus on building businesses in any of these areas:

– Consumer & Commerce

– SMB / SaaS

– Family Tech

– Education

– Marketing / Distribution services

– Video Content & Infrastructure

– Language / International

– Mobile / Tablet

– Financial Services / Payments

– Food Tech

To learn more about what we look for, read our full FAQ and check out the companies in our current Spring 2013 batch.

So, agent hopeful – are you ready to report to M500? Follow us on AngelList and apply today! Best of luck.

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