The latest episode of Masters of Scale features Ben Chestnut, Co Founder and CEO of Mailchimp, and champion of simplicity and bootstrapping. When Ried asks him about when he started figuring out Dashboards and analytics stuff (Mailchimp ARR $600mn) Ben says – “Gosh, that’s a good question. I think to this day I still keep it very simple, myself. I obviously have a CFO who cares about it. He has big fancy reports, but I really say, you know, “How much money did we make this month? Is it growing? At what rate?” That’s all I really care about. I keep it pretty simple.” Strangely enough I also happened to read this article “Don’t Build a Startup, Build a Movement” by Ali Mese and guess who was the centerpiece of his narrative – Ben and Mailchimp. Ali makes a passionate plea for differentiated approach to your brand storytelling. Ali writes – “Over the last years, MailChimp has built an iconic brand with its design-centric approach and unconventional marketing campaigns.” that took Mailchimp, which was essentially a side hustle for about 5 years for Ben and his co-founder, to 15 million customers. So what did MailChimp do? They decided early to “Focus on building a brand customers love.”
Ali goes on to explain what you need to stand out in this hyper communicative world – “create Superfans who religiously follow your movement and spare the word about you”.
Mark Bonchek in his 2014 HBR article “Don’t disrupt an industry, disrupt the thinking” stresses on shifting the thinking, Seth Godin talks about changing the “Worldview” of your product. Ideas, communication, building the brand narrative, weaving the story – the frame of reference that makes the communication easy to relate to. As a startup this is the template you need to work on :
We champion [insert], and shift the way people think about [insert] to [insert].
Ali quotes Drift, basecamp and though dated, still relevant, Salesforce. And the core is being authentic, being you and being part of the product and experience of the brand.
A few weeks back I wrote an article where I urged to make a Marketing hire your first sales hire. When you focus on your customers and do things that rally Superfans around your brand, you are building a movement. And if you spend time and effort doing that, you are also likely building something enduring. Even when you are bootstrapped.
Link to Article by Ali Mese, Founder Growth Supply:
Don’t Build a Startup, Build a Movement https://medium.com/swlh/dont-build-a-startup-build-a-movement-15c31213168
Masters of Scale : Ben Chestnut episode: https://mastersofscale.com/ben-chestnut-the-case-for-bootstrapping/