Startup marketing

Hello, we’re Klarna. Ever since we started in 2005, we’ve been committed to making online shopping easy and hassle-free.

In the last 12 years, technology has evolved, excited and transformed the world around us, yet our mission remains as relevant as ever, to make paying as simple, safe and above all, smooth as possible.


Klarna is now one of Europe’s largest banks and is providing payment solutions for 60 million consumers across 70.000 merchants in 18 countries. Klarna offers direct payments, pay after delivery options and instalment plans with a smooth one-click purchase experience that lets consumers pay when and how they prefer to.


When the company acquired SOFORT in 2014 the Klarna Group was formed. And in September 2017 Billpay joined the Klarna Group - so we’re on the move, and you could come be part of it!

Klarna Group Statistics


Total number of users: 60 million

Total number of merchants: more than 70 000

Total purchases from start: more than 470 million

Purchases/day: Around 650 000

Number of employees: 1700

Number of nationalities: 45+

Markets: 18

Looking to join our team? You will make friends with people from all around the World.


Start a career at Klarna Group

We're exhibiting at Tech Job Fair in Berlin, see you there!

CORE accompanies the management of complex IT transformations in industries with a disproportionally high contribution of IT to business success. In joint approaches with our partners and based on our market knowledge, technology expertise and methodical know how we develop solutions that reflect the whole value chain and ensure future-proof change.


We act in alignment with our values 'Trust, Performance & Expertise' as a reliable partner in the collaborative efforts with our clients, rooted in the principle of performance and execution, and founded on the basis of competence and know-how.

Providing a comprehensive range of services, we address a large share of the IT value chain, starting from the analysis of innovative market developments over the design of the (IT) strategy and the planning of implementation projects up to the implementation itself as well as an operation of the system.


With our research on the dynamics and systematics of complex IT transformations as part of the COREinstitute, we support leading companies and institutions worldwide in finding the appropriate measures to manage the fundamental structural change driven by digitization.

COREtransform is responsible for advisory services to our clients in the IT management in regards to all IT-transformative undertakings, utilizing our profound business and technical expertise through an efficient collaboration of generalists and experts.

At COREengineering, we develop sustainable solution designs, accompany their implementation in conjunction with selected implementation partners while steering the projects to ensure success.

COREoperating assists clients in transforming solutions into productive operations with the help of our integration and migration services.



CORE offers you various opportunities to develop both professionally and personally in a challenging and dynamic environment with clear objectives. We invite you to develop the potential of our clients, together with talented and successful colleagues, on the basis of agile methods using the innovative software in challenging development tasks. Whether as a business analyst or a software engineer, at CORE you will work with others at the highest level to develop state-of-the-art software.


You are studying natural sciences, economics or humanities and are curious about deeper practical insights.


You have successfully completed your studies and want to apply your knowledge and skills in practice.


You have a wide range of experience and want to apply your experience to new contexts beneficially


Come and network with CORE team this November at Berlin Tech Job Fair!! Free tickets


It does not come as a surprise: Your organization is only as good as your employees. And your employees are only as good as your talent acquisition (aka recruiting) and talent management philosophy, approach, and team.

We all agree, don´t we?

However, ask yourself, how is your employer handling recruiting in reality? In other words: Are people and talent in your organization at the heart of its mission and strategy or just another cost line in the P&L? Are they as important as the organization´s clients, customers, and objectives? Is senior management doing whatever it takes to recruit exceptional talent to continue building a successful organization?

Fact is, that many companies don´t know how to identify, target, and recruit the talent who is interested in meaningful career moves and which might fit with vacant positions you´re looking for to fill. One key reason being that people in this group are largely passive candidates who need to be contacted at the right point of time with the right message to stimulate them to respond at all.

Find out in this article which trends will shape the future of talent acquisition. Learn how you and your company can locate, recruit, and retain the right candidates better and faster. And how to rock recruiting and your organization in the future to stay successful.

Applying A Strategic Mindset: A top-notch recruiting department establishes itself as a reliant, thought-provoking, equal, and challenging partner of the business and senior management alike. Not only filling vacancies in an transactional manner, but equally important advising business partners on long-term company and employee requirements and strategies. Based on thorough analyses, hard data, and holistic forecasting. Therefore recruiting needs to be perceived by all leaders and managers of the organization as a key function which is owned by everyone; and not only by the recruiters.



Embracing A Marketing Attitude: Marketing departments, more than any other function of the company, have already undergone dramatic change processes with break-neck speed in order to beef up and better understand and serve external customers. In consequence, there is a lot recruiting teams can learn by thinking and acting more like marketers.

Talent As Customers: Organizations should approach talent acquisition in the same sophisticated and dedicated manner as when trying to acquire new customers. Worded differently: "With a high probability there is some sort of customer lifecycle management process installed in your organization. The resulting million dollar question: Is there also a talent lifecycle management system in place?" Let´s face it, there are still (too) many companies who have not really understood that employees are their internal customers. Consequence: "You can´t satisfy and excite your external customers with great products and services, if your internal customers are not motivated, well looked after, and engaged."

Simplification Of Tech Interaction: Job applicants should experience a state-of-the art application experience which is as good as the organization´s customer experience process. Have you ever thought about e.g. having a highly skilled team in place answering questions of people who think about working for you? Maybe via web video or web chat to keep it scalable? Do you have dedicated metrics and a comprehensive reporting set up to monitor and review the satisfaction levels of your applicants for each step of the interview process?

Strong Employer Brand: Every organization should not only nourish its consumer brand, but also create an attractive employer brand. Key branding principles would need to be applied to the employee experience. For example, a best possible design of a company´s site is of a paramount importance, since there it is where often the job hunting begins. In this respect it´s crucial having a well-designed career site which transports a consistent brand image that reflects the company´s main values. This enables job seekers to define if they might be a cultural fit and if it could make sense to apply. As such companies are well advised taking some time to look at how they're being reviewed on sites like Glassdoor, Great Place To Work, Vault, etc. Possibly they can incorporate the reviews and learning into their website or any other form of (talent) communication.

The Ultra-Fast Rise Of Technology: Artificial Intelligence (AI) will play a key role in assisting recruiting. I expect that already in some years it´ll be used to help screening candidates resumes based on pre-defined traits, skills, and clues on required management and leadership principles which then will be matched with suitable vacant roles. AI will support recruiters also to assess a candidate´s abilities and behavior (e.g. coping with pressure or working in a team) in real-world scenarios (e.g. with the help of special apps running on computers and mobile devices). It also looks like that the phone call as preferred first-round recruiting means will be soon replaced by live, two-way webcam interviews.

Big Data Powers On: New recruiting screening tools, powered by big data systems, will survey social sites such as Linkedin, Xing or Viadeo (e.g. profile changes, articles published, sudden increase of new contacts, etc.). Top companies will rather rely on quantitative data versus gut instinct. Sites like Joberate already scrape publicly available data from millions of individual online social media accounts and assign a score that estimates the level of job search activity. So if e.g. someone starts making many professional connections on Linkedin, publishes multiple questions or comments on Stack Overflow (with more than 6 million members the world´s largest community of programmers) the scores go up and possibly indicates a lower engagement level, i.e. a higher openness for switching jobs and listening to a recruiter calling at exactly that time.


Businessman and woman discussing together while looking at laptop in office

Engagement Beats Sourcing: Often the challenge is no longer finding talent, but activating and engaging them. There are several related strategies organizations should consider. One option is to involve hiring managers earlier in the process, i.e. the recruiting team partnering with them throughout every stage of the talent attraction and recruiting cycle. In top organizations this starts already with hiring managers assisting identifying and sourcing top talent (e.g. via their own alumni or personal networks). Another effective strategy in this context is using gamification. Companies could establish e.g. virtual tournaments to search for top talents (like e.g. the digital start-up Umbel is doing it with its gaming challenge called “Umbelmania”). And, of course, social media has become mainstream for recruiting. New platforms like The Muse give job seekers a more intimate view of and broader insights into company culture, values, communication, and opportunities of multiple organizations.

Data Analytics: Through biometric data and analytics, companies like NextHire can better predict which candidates are most likely to be a good fit for a position. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) – like e.g. Silkroad or Bullhorn which allow to source, attract, engage, screen and hire top talent fast, become a must for any organization. For an excellent overview of leading ATS check here.

Candidate Relationship Management (CRM): A CRM tool does more than tracking candidates like in an ATS. It allows to seamlessly share notes, develop and nurture leads, and document activity across the entire organization. It also can match the company´s internal talent data base with external people aggregator sites such as HiringSolved which gathers data from across the web and filters the most relevant data points and search results.

New Hiring Metrics: Traditionally, recruiters have been evaluated almost exclusively on metrics like time to fill or cost per hires. The problem is that focusing too much on the sheer number of butts they can pull through the hiring funnel and into seats ignore important controls regarding quality of hire, candidate engagement or respective recruiter´s overall impact on organizational recruiting or retention. In the future the entire hiring team will be assessed more by the real value their work generates.

Employees as Ambassadors: There´s nothing more credible than having employees inter-acting with potential future colleagues. Employees participating at external recruiting events, job fairs, conventions, etc. is a first good step. Having them activating their own social networks and alumni sites is an even more powerful and scalable next step. Think about how best to attract e.g. your company followers on Linkedin, Xing, etc. Post engaging and relevant content on your site and blog and motivate employees to share and comment it. By the way, anyone in your team blogging or podcasting about non-confidential and still work-related topics? You might want to get this one kicked off rather quickly.


Influencer Marketing To Recruit: As many companies now use social media to recruit, there’s a mass of online content, tougher competition, and as such it’s harder to differentiate your organization. To cut through the clutter you would need to be in a position to send job seekers clear signals to generate interest and trust. Potential candidates often turn to peers, credible opinion leaders or recognized "voices“ to get information about companies, careers, and job vacancies. Using this technique within recruitment could push you ahead, since the recruiting industry is only about to discover Influencer Marketing.

Humanness Beats Tech: Even, and especially in the digital age, organizations need to radiate a strong human touch, emotions, and warmth. An excellent opportunity for companies to give their organization a "face“ by having employees acting as real and authentic ambassadors (e.g. video tours on company main website, etc.).

Final Thoughts

It goes without saying, that the very central task of recruiting is to anticipate and fill vacancies with the right candidates as soon as possible. That´s the fundamental and transactional mission and obligation of recruiters. At the same time, recruiting is changing rapidly. Job boards and job ads will soon become relicts of the past. Big data, sophisticated matching algorithms, CRM tools, and absolute talent-centricity will influence recruitment more than ever. Recruiting will need to become a key function and department of the organization by taking on more strategic tasks such as long-term staff forecasting, planning, and business advising. Always closely embedded within the overall HR strategy and team and in a tight exchange with all main stakeholders and business partners (e.g. legal, benefit and compensation, tax, etc.).

Recruitment - like the overall management of employees - must be co-owned and carried out by line managers. Organizations that understand and resolve the challenge of candidate engagement e.g. by having various authentic employees communicating and inter-acting with candidates will ultimately prosper. Last, but not least, the better a company develops, looks after, and retains its existing workforce, the smaller the need (and pressure) to recruit new employees.

If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external. Stephen Covey

Great post by Andreas von der Heydt  via

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Delivering Startup Happines

We help Startups through Events like Meetups, Workshops, Hackathons, Job Fairs, Events Promo and also have to help you recruit your tech team.

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Comments Off on Six Marketing Mistakes at CES 2012

Six Marketing Mistakes at CES 2012

Posted by | 17 January, 2012 | Case Study, Project management, Software & technology, Startup marketing, Startups

Original post by Alex Goldfayn via HBR

I’ve spent the week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where billion-dollar companies unveil multi-million-dollar products looking for mainstream popularity, and where startups unveil ideas, looking for angles and angels.

And everywhere you go in this gathering of the smartest people in the most exciting business category on the planet, there are marketing mistakes being made. It’s fascinating, really: most of the products and ideas shown here are tremendous — it’s the showing that is generally awful. The engineering of electronics has never been healthier, but the quality of the marketing lags far behind. To wit:

All the focus is on the features, not the lifestyle. I tell my clients that if they want to create consumer evangelists, they must begin by painting a picture of lifestyle improvement. Show the consumer what their life will look like after using your device for a while. Sure, it’s an industry show, and the press here understands technology, but how do you think they will communicate about your product if all you give them is tech specs?

For example, you don’t make a video-distribution technology. You let people enjoy their favorite movies and shows, from any device, on any screen in their home.

You don’t make wireless Airplay speakers. Rather, you liberate music from the confines of a hard drive for families to enjoy together.

Be bold, be shameless. There’s too much matter-of-fact, borderline defensive messaging here. Technology marketing needs to be shameless. It’s not a coincidence that the most wildly successful marketer on the planet, Apple, is also the most shameless marketer. Don’t worry about turning a few people off by being over-the-top. Instead, worry about not capturing the market’s attention by being ordinary and plain. Tell people what’s amazing about your product or service, as descriptively as possible. Back to our examples:

You don’t make video-distribution technology. You bring joy and entertainment to people.

You don’t make speakers. You bring beautiful music into people’s hearts.

Marketing is no place to be modest.

The people at the booths are not helpful — to attendees or to exhibitors. Many exhibitors build small cities for booths here, and they contract trade show “professionals” to “work” their temporary town. Some of these people are half-naked. Some color coordinated. All are trained in three or four talking points on the product they stand next to. And none of them are helpful. They can’t answer any questions. What if a new buyer happens upon them, or, God forbid, a reporter? You solve this problem by bringing your employees to work the booth. Your HR people and administrative assistants would be far more informed than the folks representing you currently.

There are too many agencies doing a bad job at CES. This is a year-long problem in the industry, but it’s especially pronounced this week. For example, one PR agency rep sent six press releases about one client in the days leading up to the show. The client, a smaller company, did not know this was happening, and learned through communications from angry recipients who felt they were being spammed. Ask yourself: do you know exactly how your agency is representing you, and is it helpful?

Unforced errors abound. So many harmful mistakes in consumer electronics marketing are self-made. It’s the same at CES: look at the list of marketing issues above. These problems are entirely avoidable: Get smart people into the booth. Know your agency’s activity. Focus on emotion and lifestyle. Not doing so is voluntary harmful behavior. The electronics industry is difficult enough; why not avoid putting obstacles in your own path?


Comments Off on Starting A Business: Start-up or Let-down?

Starting A Business: Start-up or Let-down?

Posted by | 10 January, 2012 | Business planning, Launching a startup, Startup marketing, Startups, Strategy

Original post by Adam Cowlishaw  via The FDC Blog 

At the beginning of December, I came into contact with Linda Cheung, Founder of CubeSocial- a fantastic UK startup which allows businesses to run social media accounts in a super-organised, dynamic way. It’s awesome, and I think it’s going to really take off this year. There are squillions of startups that pop onto the digital radar all the time, but what I think works for Cube Social is that it genuinely fills a gap in the market, and it’s ran by people who have business pedigrees most of us will only ever dream about.

But, worry not! You don’t need to have the business acumen of Lord Sugar or Mary Portas to start your own company. If you look at the majority of successful startups, they were conceived by tech wizards who came up with some world-reordering idea. The big thing that propelled them into the stratosphere is that they managed capture the attention of a sympathetic venture capitalist. (Buffer App are arguably going through this phase at the moment and are on the verge of explosion- check them out)

In order for startups to evolve into full-blown companies, there are a lot of variables that influence their development and ultimate success. Here are some helpful tips for starting up on solid ground.

The People

People who are passionate about their field (“geeks”) tend to stick together. That’s why high ranking university lecturers tend to accept job offers based on the people they will be working with, rather than the salary or establishment itself. Nobody wants to work with Billy No Mates. (He does make a great cup of tea, though) By the same token, students with a real passion for their field tend to follow thought-leaders, which means that very quickly certain locations become centres par excellence for a particular industry. This brings us onto…


Comments Off on Five marketing gaffes to avoid in 2012

Five marketing gaffes to avoid in 2012

Posted by | 9 January, 2012 | Business planning, Key lessons, Startup marketing

Original post by Oliver Milman via startupsmart

he world of social media may have provided businesses with great new marketing channels, but it has also increased the opportunities for costly stuff-ups.

Last year saw a number of marketing blunders, often by brands that haven’t quite grasped how to use the new tools available to them.

“The mistake many brands make is that they desperately want to be liked,” says Michael Halligan, founder of Engage Marketing.

“They see that a rival has got 100,000 Twitter followers and they want the same. They jump into social media on a flimsy excuse of growing their numbers. You need a better way of doing it than that.”

According to Halligan, a solid marketing strategy needs to underpin everything your start-up does, to ensure it doesn’t veer wildly off course and make a critical mistake.

“Stick to the key fundamentals – get your brand right and make it enticing to consumers,” he says. “Think less about the tools on offer and more about the strategy.”

To help you avoid any marketing disasters in 2012, here are the five lessons that every start-up should learn from last year’s stuff-ups. Make sure you avoid all of these mistakes.

1. Acting desperate to be noticed

As a start-up, you will be rubbing shoulders with well-established brands with fearsome marketing budgets.

It’s tempting to use low-cost marketing stunts in order to stand out from the pack. Sometimes, this can work.

But beware. What you see as a cheeky, quirky attempt to generate sales can be viewed by customers as desperate and, worse, devaluing to your fledgling brand’s worth.

Using horribly twee language, such as the Essential Beauty ad that provoked 44 complaints last year by using terms such as “fairy horrest” and “nimpy skickers”, is a good way to tarnish your business before it has even got off the ground properly.

Cross the line into outright “look/listen to me” behaviour can also backfire, as the outrage provoked by Kyle Sandilands in 2011 demonstrates. Stick to your brand values and provide a good product or service – the marketing should take care of itself.


Comments Off on Man on a Cleantech Mission:A VC Visits the U.K. (Day Two)

Man on a Cleantech Mission:A VC Visits the U.K. (Day Two)

Posted by | 5 January, 2012 | Launching a startup, Startup marketing, Startups

Original post by Jim Matheson via  Xconomy

Day 1 started strong and stayed that way. A set of briefings and discussions at the U.K. Trade & Investment offices, a startup company pitch, coffee with Bernie Bulkin from Vantage Point Venture Partners, a trip to the House of Commons to watch their debate on the Climate Change Bill (followed by a visit to the Member’s Pub for a pint), and a reception with a variety of U.K. cleantech leaders. And this was only Monday…

I hope to get the various presentations to post here, but here are the take-aways, which are many. The day’s high-level impressions are that the U.K. faces many of the same challenges as the U.S. Or more precisely, we face their same challenges, but we face it on a much larger scale, are behind on the policy front, and do not have the same utility industry dynamics to rely completely on incentives and market mechanisms to solve our infrastructural challenges. So as much as I am surprised to say it, I am increasingly considering the need for more creative government intervention and funding to help drive some of these necessary changes.

The day started with Adam Brown, the U.K. Trade & Investment team’s Global Cleantech Sector Champion, who briefed us on the challenges and opportunities in the U.K. They need to increase renewables to 20 percent by 2020 (they are currently at 5 percent). They rely heavily on coal and gas for electricity production and are significant net importers of both (from Norway, Russia, and South America). Areas of hopeful gain are on- and off-shore wind, wave, tidal, and increasingly, nuclear energy (although this does not figure into the renewables figure). Of note, the U.K. has already deployed over 2 gigawatts of off-shore wind capacity with another 7 gigawatts in various stages of planning. All this while Cape Wind struggles to find support as the first off-shore wind deployment in the U.S. It is also notable that nuclear seems to face a much smoother path towards new deployments than in the U.S. (currently 20 percent of the capacity of U.K. electricity is from nuclear).


Comments Off on Wrapp: Zennstrom-Backed Startup Reinvents The Gift Card

Wrapp: Zennstrom-Backed Startup Reinvents The Gift Card

Posted by | 5 January, 2012 | Business planning, Startup marketing, Startups, Strategy

Original post by Eric Savitz via FORBES

For the last few years, my sister and I have approached the holidays this way: I bought gift cards for her kids, and she bought gift cards for my kids. And we’re hardly alone. U.S. adults on average buy close to five gift cards a year; they are now a more than $100 billion a year business. But the gift card business has fundamental flaws, not the least of which is that they’re based around the physical purchase of little plastic cards. Gift cards, in short, are a fundamentally bricks-and-mortar focused business in an e-tailing world.

But maybe there’s a better way.

At least, that’s the theory behind Wrapp, a Stockholm-based start-up backed by Atomico, the London-based venture firm founded by Skype co-founderNiklas Zennstrom. The core idea: gift giving is a fundamentally social act. So why not tie the act of gift giving to social networks?

The Wrapp team includes a host of mostly Swedish Web veterans; the CEO isHjalmar Winbladh, a serial entrepreneur who among other things startedRebtel, an IP telephony company that actually competes with Skype, and Sendit, a company acquired by Microsoft in 1999. CTO Andreas Ehn was previously CTO at the music service Spotify.

In interviews with FORBES in late December, Zennstrom and Winbladh laid out the case for how Wrapp plans to reinvent the gift card business.

The basic concept is to tie giving gift cards to Facebook.. The social gifting service works like this: On the Wrapp site, you can sign up for the service for free using your Facebook account. There are apps for Wrapp for both iPhones and Android phones. The app notifies you when your Facebook friends have birthdays; with a few clicks you send them a gift card, which then can be redeemed online or in retail stores. The “gift card” comes in the form of an email with a bar code that can be scanned at a retailer’s point of sale, like a normal gift card.

One novel feature of Wrapp is the ability to give your friends not only paid gift cards, but also free gift cards. The idea of giving free gift cards isn’t as loopy as it sounds. The idea is that retailers can generate store traffic by luring in customers with free gift cards in hand. Imagine, for instance, that I gave you a free $10 gift card for a shoe store; the theory is that the retailer would happily give up some revenue dollars in exchange for gaining a new customer, who are not going to be able to buy a pair of shoes for $10. In theory, everyone wins: I get to give you a gift for free. You get a gift card. The retailer gets a new customer. Wrapp gets a commission when a gift card is redeemed.

Meanwhile, the fact that I sent you a gift card shows up on our Facebook pages – and other friends can add to the gift. So while I might start by offering you a free gift card, I can add it to it myself, and invite friends to do the same. That makes Wrapp a nice solution for group gifts. And while the tie to Facebook gives Wrapp a way to prompt you to consider gifting your friends on their birthdays, you can decide to send them a gift card any time you want.

Retailers, meanwhile, can fine tune which Wrapp customers get which offers; young male users might get a different set of gift card choices than older female users.


Comments Off on Exactly How Online Video Marketing May Level Up Your Organization

Exactly How Online Video Marketing May Level Up Your Organization

Posted by | 27 December, 2011 | Business models, Business planning, Customer development, Product development, Startup marketing, Startups

Original post by RWC Startup

Within so very little time, internet marketing has created a great enterprise change. Fresh strategies in dealings have been used by firms across the globe. The brand new form of transaction is named as “online video marketing”. Excellent Resources For Online Video Marketing

Firms during the past could have seen Advertising and marketing as being the lone method to campaign their organizations but today, Online Marketing stands out as the valued technique to continue to keep their own company on the move and on the go.

Advertising and marketing firms lately appear to fall out of business a result of the surge of online marketing.Currently, businesses engage in the potential of website marketing which includes those companies that were not convinced of the expertise.

Higher Profit

So many people are reached via online video marketing whilst it does not cost greatly thus it generates better ROI. Classic promotion is more expensive when compared with online video marketing thus more income is gained. Online video marketing really does return more cash as confirmed by internet marketers that had currently tried it. How can online video marketing achieve this specific success?

Bigger Exposure

Behind this task is that it reaches higher number of exposure. On this time where there exists rapid development of modernization, most of us have internet access.The world wide web provides the most recent products and services that this now takes the place of those things which were once not taken over by the world-wide-web such as watching TV and also buying. Internet provides latest details that’s the reason lots of people believe it. Considering that online video marketing easily sends messages across the globe, it is a perfect way to establish interaction throughout the web. For your industry to be interested in your company; you need to simply reach out to them.


Comments Off on City tech startups give Wall St. run for its money

City tech startups give Wall St. run for its money

Posted by | 20 December, 2011 | Business planning, Finance, Startup marketing, Startups, Tech City

Original post by PHYLLIS FURMAN via NYDailyNews

Ex-financial services execs launch tech companies in N.Y.

Jon Stein is founder and CEO of, an online brokerage firm based in SoHo.

Jon Stein is founder and CEO of, an online brokerage firm based in SoHo.

GOODBYE, Wall Street. Hello, Silicon Alley.

The economic meltdown has been rough for the city’s financial services employees and with a new round of layoffs in the making, the road ahead is looking grim.

But for many young Wall Streeters, New York City’s bustling tech startup scene is providing jobs — and a shot at creating their own fiefdoms.

Jon Stein, 32, is one of those who made the successful leap.

The former senior consultant at First Manhattan Consulting Group launched, an online brokerage firm.

Based in SoHo, he now has 13 employees, six of them from Wall Street. The site, which went live in May 2010 has 11,400 users and is growing at a rate of 20% to 30% a month.

Here is what he had to say:

QWhy are Wall Street bankers moving into the tech startup world?

A Wall Street no longer holds the allure that it used to. Many Wall Streeters, corporate lawyers, and the like, are sacrificing salary in the pursuit of more meaningful careers.

They want to be building productive, next-generation products like Betterment. In my career as a consultant to banks, I saw an industry that needed serious reforming. Investing didn’t have to be that hard and inaccessible. Founding a startup created the best vehicle for genuine change.

Q Are more financial types making the leap?

A Five years ago, no one in New York was thinking about startups. Today, it’s a common conversation in every social circle, at every dinner, and the Wall Street types I know are curious about what it’s like to work for Betterment and other startups.

Many are disillusioned with their jobs, and want to build a better way. This is especially true for the younger generation.


Comments Off on How can a startup decide when to start marketing upcoming products?

How can a startup decide when to start marketing upcoming products?

Posted by | 19 December, 2011 | Business planning, Product development, Startup marketing, Startups, Strategy

Original post by Terrie Lupberger via Task 

Twenty years ago, conventional marketing theory said to wait until upcoming products were tested and proven (even perfected) before you start marketing them.  This advice was based on the belief that customers would be turned off if they bought a less-than-perfect product.  A reputation, once lost, they said, is hard to get back.

That’s not sage advice any longer.  Today, you start marketing upcoming products as soon as you know what you are going to be offering.  You start building the buzz out in the marketplace by letting your target markets know how your product will address their needs or solve their problems.

If it’s a business to business product, in most instances, you can start marketing it while it’s under development.  A software development company I work with has been promoting its new software to potential users for over a year.  There are still a lot of bugs in the program and kinks in the process, but they are enrolling select companies to be their beta testers.  The companies get to use the product for free and the software development company gets to use the companies’ names and testimonials in their marketing.  The software development company also gets continuous feedback to improve the upcoming product design before it rolls out to the full-paying customers.  It’s a win-win for everybody and they are building quite a buzz out in their target market.

If it’s a business to consumer product, then you want to make sure the consumer knows that they may be buying an ‘early’ version of the product. They should be acknowledged and rewarded for being an early adopter with discounts or other incentives.

As important as the question is as to when to start marketing upcoming products, it’s an equally important question as to who should be marketing.  It’s no longer just the select few in the marketing department who put together a marketing campaign and then execute it.  Consider that everyone in the company markets.

Everyone in the company is a walking promotion, endorsement and enthusiast for the product that the company is offering.  The art and science of marketing is tapping into that passion and finding the most leveraged channels for them to unleash their enthusiasm and passion.

The best marketing wisdom I ever heard was offered by a TEDx speaker, Simon Sinek.  He said: “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”  There’s a great TED talk by him.


Comments Off on How can a startup decide when to start marketing upcoming products?

How can a startup decide when to start marketing upcoming products?

Posted by | 19 December, 2011 | Business planning, Product development, Startup marketing, Startups, Strategy

Original post by Terrie Lupberger via Task 

Twenty years ago, conventional marketing theory said to wait until upcoming products were tested and proven (even perfected) before you start marketing them.  This advice was based on the belief that customers would be turned off if they bought a less-than-perfect product.  A reputation, once lost, they said, is hard to get back.

That’s not sage advice any longer.  Today, you start marketing upcoming products as soon as you know what you are going to be offering.  You start building the buzz out in the marketplace by letting your target markets know how your product will address their needs or solve their problems.

If it’s a business to business product, in most instances, you can start marketing it while it’s under development.  A software development company I work with has been promoting its new software to potential users for over a year.  There are still a lot of bugs in the program and kinks in the process, but they are enrolling select companies to be their beta testers.  The companies get to use the product for free and the software development company gets to use the companies’ names and testimonials in their marketing.  The software development company also gets continuous feedback to improve the upcoming product design before it rolls out to the full-paying customers.  It’s a win-win for everybody and they are building quite a buzz out in their target market.

If it’s a business to consumer product, then you want to make sure the consumer knows that they may be buying an ‘early’ version of the product. They should be acknowledged and rewarded for being an early adopter with discounts or other incentives.

As important as the question is as to when to start marketing upcoming products, it’s an equally important question as to who should be marketing.  It’s no longer just the select few in the marketing department who put together a marketing campaign and then execute it.  Consider that everyone in the company markets.

Everyone in the company is a walking promotion, endorsement and enthusiast for the product that the company is offering.  The art and science of marketing is tapping into that passion and finding the most leveraged channels for them to unleash their enthusiasm and passion.

The best marketing wisdom I ever heard was offered by a TEDx speaker, Simon Sinek.  He said: “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.”  There’s a great TED talk by him.


Comments Off on How To Develop An Effective Market Penetration Strategy

How To Develop An Effective Market Penetration Strategy

Posted by | 19 December, 2011 | Business planning, Project management, Startup marketing, Startups, Uncategorized

Original post by Maria Bike via Task 

It is very common that we talk about market penetration in a company. We even have targets in our annual business and marketing plans to achieve higher penetration. Consider the following advice before making your decision on how to implement an effective market penetration strategy.

Think and calculate before you make your decision. There are a few issues to consider before you decide if you really need to apply a market penetration strategy at your company’s current stage. Furthermore, you must think about where you are and if “penetration strategy” is the appropriate strategy amongst other possibilities.

Ask yourself the following questions.

  • Why do I need higher market penetration?
  • Do I need it in order to increase total profitability?
  • Do I need it in order to increase profitability per product line?
  • Do I need it to secure profitability?
  • Do I need it to survive in the market situation?
  • Is it necessary for my immediate or future development?

If you decide a market penetration strategy is called for after answering these questions, start drawing up business scenarios and calculations. Before moving to action, you have to think about and calculate whether or not you can gain the additional market share with the same products and structures. Decide what sort of investment you need to make.

Since a new marketing strategy implies expensive investments that will not be translated into profits for a reasonable time span, you should reconsider the approach of your market penetration strategy. For example, if you have to design new processes or train a lot of people or advertise heavily, you need to estimate in advance what your return on investment is expected to be. Of course, you also need to designate a specific budget and time plan that will be monitored.


Comments Off on Tech Startups Need Non-Techies to Succeed

Tech Startups Need Non-Techies to Succeed

Posted by | 17 December, 2011 | Customer development, Product development, Software & technology, Startup marketing, Startups

Original post by Ndubuisi Ekekwe via HBR

In the tech startup world, technology is important for success, but it does not disproportionately determine winners and losers. Two companies can invent similar technologies; one will win and the other will lose. Focusing on technology supremacy alone is a model for failure. Over the years, I have consistently seen what I call “latent factors” — business features that are generally outside the scope of the core tech team — to be real factors in a company’s success.

For entrepreneurs in developing nations where experienced institutional investors are scarce and starting companies is very challenging, the impact of these latent forces becomes hugely vital. Though we enjoy writing about dropout tech legends, most times their success is catalyzed by others — they came up with the ideas and the investors provided the leadership and the non-tech factors (such as pricing models, branding, and promotions, among others) that propelled them to stardom. The incubation system, the ecosystem and the environment are important, but sometimes, it can be a very simple “latent factor” ingenuity that redesigns not just a company, but an entire industry.

Consider the software industry, where we have successful brands like Windows and Oracle. While these two firms have world-class intellectual properties, I think their true innovation is in the pricing model around their businesses. Microsoft would not have been as successful as they are if not for the licensing model where you never actually “own” what you paid for. As soon as you stop paying the licensing fee, you cease to own the software. This is especially impactful with their corporate clients. Imagine if Ford and GM had decided at the onset of the automotive industry that when you buy your car, you need to bring it in yearly for a checkup, with payment — and any year you miss that, the ownership of the car reverts back to them. If they had, you wouldn’t be able to resell your car whenever you want. In the software industry, that’s not easy to do because you never “own” the property. You can’t resell that CD, legally. So, while the software industry is obviously innovative, it’s the pricing model that has made it profitable, as it offers a ready source of cash flow.


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Using Social Networks to Improve Operations

Posted by | 17 December, 2011 | Business planning, Customer development, Startup marketing, Startups, Strategy

Original post by Gary Edwards and Mike Amos via HBR

This post is part of the HBR Forum, The Future of Retail.

For decades the mystery shopper was the main way retailers assessed operations from a customer’s point of view. By sending in a fake shopper, typically once a month, an individual store essentially was buying a dozen performance snapshots per year. Then telephone surveys began to supplement mystery shopping. Today, digital technologies are supplanting both, with online customer surveys providing an exponentially greater number of performance snapshots per day.

A well-managed loop that links customer experience feedback with recommendations on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp, can boost service quality and operational performance, increase traffic and create more happy customers — people who crow about a retailer online for free, turning their friends into new customers too.

A new mini-industry has emerged using these techniques, known as “customer experience management,” or CEM. Our company, Empathica — as well as a number of competitors — are providing customer feedback to operations, while partnering with “web-scraping” companies to listen to random chatter online.

Now we’re turning attention to linking operations to marketing through “social CEM.” The aim is not to drive online advertising impressions, but to explicitly and transparently drive the behavior of customers, front line service staff and retail managers. The aim is to create a true dialogue, not simply a listening post for customer kudos and complaints. And by doing so, this loop can drive meaningful operations and customer satisfaction gains.

An example: At Debenhams, a major international department store chain based in London, a customer complained through an online survey about a poor meal they received at the store’s restaurant. “Ordered turkey dinner. Very dried out. Overcooked vegetables in greasy, cold gravy.” The store manager called the customer that night, apologized, and sent a coupon for two free meals. The customer was invited to post their happiness with the problem’s resolution on Facebook, and did. The store manager made sure the kitchen turned out better turkey dinners. The result: a satisfied customer, better kitchen operations, and free social network advertising. Debenham’s effectively took what would have been a one-off customer experience problem and turned that customer into an Debenham’s advocate online and improved its operations to reduce the possibility of future disgruntled customers.


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Marketing matters

Posted by | 15 December, 2011 | Business planning, Startup marketing, Startups

Original post by Kevin Duncan via The start up donut

Your business is going to develop a reputation whether you like it or not, and this is likely to be determined by:

  • How you behave.
  • How you tell people you behave.
  • How you tell your people to behave (if you have them).
  • How your products deliver.

It all starts with you. You need to tell anyone who will listen what type of business you are. That’s half the battle. Then tell your staff (if you have them). They need to behave in a way that is appropriate to what you stand for, and what you believe to be right. They can only do this if they are told what is expected of them. And, of course, you need to behave that way yourself.

How much should you spend on sales and marketing and what is the difference between the tw0? In the purest sense, sales are purely financial transactions, and in theory they can occur in the absence of marketing.

Equally, marketing can generate a lot of activity publicising products and services, but not actually lead to any sales. In this respect they can be viewed as separate items, but in most companies they are not. The two disciplines are generally regarded as indivisible – marketing should always lead to sales, and sales usually need the help of marketing.

Much has been written about appropriate marketing investment levels. As a rough rule of thumb, mature companies that embrace marketing as a discipline spend eight-13 per cent of their turnover on it. They don’t do this for fun, but for hard-nosed commercial reasons that have been proven to improve their fortunes.

Most modern companies have concluded that there is essentially no difference between marketing and sales. As such, they believe that to have ‘no marketing’ is to abdicate from sales altogether. The answer for small businesses may be quite different. There is a huge difference between paid-for marketing and free marketing. Your most powerful weapon in the early days is you. You need to get out and about and promote what you do vigorously. To start with, you may not have to spend any money on marketing at all.

Start by saying hello to everyone who could help. It is extraordinary the number of people who haven’t even bothered to let everyone know what they do for a living. This is one of the most powerful forms of marketing, and yet many leave it out completely. Word of mouth is free, and much more persuasive than any marketing you might pay for. Everybody you meet could be a potential customer, but that isn’t the main point. Far more important is the fact that, even if they don’t want what you have to offer, they might know someone who does. Creating a buzz around what you do is important, and it needn’t cost anything.


Comments Off on 3 Tactics That Can Help Generate More Leads For Your Business

3 Tactics That Can Help Generate More Leads For Your Business

Posted by | 15 December, 2011 | Business planning, Key lessons, Startup marketing, Startups, Strategy

Original post by  via SEJ

This is the expanded version of my talk at Startup Marketing School in NYC. You can learn more about the series here.

In a world that seems to have gone social media crazy, it’s important to not lose sight of the end goal. Businesses are built to acquire new customers and generate profits. It may seem cold-hearted, but it’s the honest truth. With this in mind, let’s look at 3 tactics that can help generate more leads for your business and increase your bottom line.

The Power of Email Marketing

Email marketing works. Simple as that. It’s not glamorous and might even seem like a dinosaur to many, but people still check their emails and use them for important conversations. Being invited into one’s email inbox is a huge honor. It puts your business emails aside emails from their CEO, their clients, and their friends.

 Email marketing works very well for convincing someone to actually perform an action. Although social media may be great for interacting with consumers, if you want them to actually do something email is extremely effective. It’s important to build an active list when working with email marketing. I emphasize the word active because it means making sure people are used to getting your emails and trust them.

Building influence with your emails subscribers follows the same line of thinking as building influence on social media. Your subscribers should only be used to getting emails from your business, they should want to open them and actually trust you enough to do the action outline. If you’re just getting started with email marketing, I highly recommend MailChimp for handling your email list and sending campaign. They’ve made email marketing simple, help you follow emails rules for spam, and most importantly they integrate with SocialPro. SocialPro is a system that allows you to identify who on your list has a Twitter account or Facebook account and target them with emails. It’s great for promoting giveaways or programs that have a social component. For example, imagine if you decide you need to acquire more installations of your new Facebook application. With an email marketing list, you’re able to capture new leads and convert curious readers into paying customers. Use your list wisely and add value while you lead users through your sales funnel.


Comments Off on Don’t Trust Your Gut With Assortment Planning

Don’t Trust Your Gut With Assortment Planning

Posted by | 12 December, 2011 | Business planning, Case Study, Project management, Startup marketing, Strategy


This blog post is part of the HBR Online Forum The Future of Retail.

Retailers periodically update their product assortments, deleting slow sellers and adding new products in response to shifts in consumer demand or to accommodate new offerings from suppliers. Assortment-planning processes vary greatly across retailers and product segments but have one thing in common: They rely too much on human judgment and not enough on hard data that might allow a retailer to predict how customers will react to a change in the assortment.

This is the indisputable finding of research (pdf) that Ramnath Vaidyanathan of McGill University and I have conducted. Moreover, techniques that we have developed with several retailers over the last few years show that analytics are providing retailers a tremendous opportunity to improve revenues and profits.

Retailers who rely heavily on human judgment to make assortment decisions are flying blind, which leads to tales of woe like these:

  • Walmart introduced Project Impact in 2008, an effort to ‘declutter’ stores by removing 15% of the SKUs they carried. It saw an immediate decline in sales and eventually had to roll back most of the changes.

  • A grocery retailer deleted 20% of its dry-grocery SKUs to allow for expansion of fresh product offering. Sales declined 40% and the retailer is in bankruptcy. While all of the deleted SKUs had low sales, when customers couldn’t find them, they elected to shop elsewhere.

  • A retailer of items for the home sought to localize its assortments by store. Out of the 35 categories it carried, it chose fashion bedding, designed localized assortments for five store clusters and was thrilled to see an 18% increase in revenues. It next applied the same process to fashion bath, got no revenue lift, and abandoned its localization effort.

These examples illustrate the need to answer several questions when revising assortments:

  1. How will sales change if we increase or decrease the number of products carried in an assortment?
  2. If customers don’t find their ideal product, what is the likelihood they will buy a substitute product?
  3. What’s the likely benefit of localizing a category? How many store clusters should we have? What are the right metrics to use in clustering stores?
  4. What are the likely sales of items we are considering adding to our assortment?

The technique that Ramnath Vaidyanathan and I developed answers these questions. We identify a few attributes for each SKU that are meaningful for customers, use sales of existing SKUs to estimate the demand for attribute levels, and then use the estimates to forecast the demand for any combination of attributes, including those that correspond to new products that might be added to the assortment. We have made this approach formulaic so you can sic a computer on your sales data.


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Osborne: Seed EIS To Boost Start-Up Investment

Posted by | 11 December, 2011 | Business models, Finance, Key lessons, Startup marketing, Startups

Original post by Todd Cardy via

Updated: The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) will be expanded and boosted to enable investors to claim hefty tax relief for backing start-up businesses.

EIS expanded to seed investment

EIS expanded to seed investment

Chancellor George Osborne announced during his Autumn Statement to Parliament today that from April next year people who invest up to £100,000 in a qualifying new start-up business would be eligible for income tax relief of 50 per cent. The relief will be offered regardless of the rate at which the investor pays tax.

The scheme, which has been given the name the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS), will also be open to companies, but with a total investment limit of £150,000.

As an added incentive to encourage more people to back ‘riskier’ companies, the chancellor has offered a capital gains tax holiday for investments made into the new scheme. The move will mean a capital gains tax exemption on gains realised on disposal of an asset in 2012-13 and invested through the SEIS in the same year.

‘We’ve supported enterprise by increasing the generosity on the Enterprise Investment Scheme,’ he comments. ‘We are extending this scheme specifically to help new start-up businesses get the seed investment they need. Even at the best of times they can struggle to get the finance they need – and in the current credit conditions that struggle too often ends in failure.’

The Autumn Statement papers reveal that the new scheme is a result ofgovernment-initiated consultation on funding options for early-stage businesses in the UK that closed in September. As part of the proposed EIS reforms announced today, the papers state that the government will simplify the EIS by relaxing the connected person rules and the definition of shares that qualify for relief.

It will also tighten the ‘focus of the schemes’ by introducing a new test to exclude companies set up for the purpose of accessing relief, exclude acquisition of shares in another company and exclude investment in Feed-in-Tariffs businesses.

In addition to these changes, the government will remove the £1 million investment limit per company for venture capital trusts (VCTs) to reduce the administrative burdens of the scheme.

The reforms follow Osborne’s strong backing of EIS in March. In the 2011 Budget, he announced that additional income tax relief for scheme investorswould increase from 20 per cent to 30 per cent in the 2011-12 tax year. The rate matched the current tax relief for VCT investment.


Original post by   via B2C

As you begin to build your business and attempt to attract customers you quickly realize that everyone is a skeptic. This is especially true if you are are new to your market and not well known before taking the leap to owning your own business. People want “Social Proof” that your product is worth their hard-earned money and time.

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof is the reassurance that others have decided to use your product or service, which proves it is worth considering. In fact, positive product reviews provide enough social proof that a potential customer is 63% more likely to purchase your product online if it is present at the point of purchase.

This behavior is human nature. We all have limited resources, whether it be time or money. We are always looking for ways to maximize our resources in order to achieve our goals. This could be as simple as getting the best stroller for your new baby that fits your lifestyle or just getting a great meal for a fair price. We look for others similar to us and to judge their satisfaction with the product or service being considered.

Leveraging Social Proof to Grow your Startup Company

This information is powerful. You now know exactly what your customers want: “Social Proof”. If you also know who your ideal clients or customers are, you can further leverage customer feedback to drive business to the write customers AND dramatically increase sales conversions without having to spend more on marketing advertising or anything really. You are simply maximizing profit from each sales opportunity.

So what are some simple and practical ways you can gather and use social proof in your startup business:

Add reviews to your Website

Reviews are one of the best ways to create and use social proof. The best part is that the reviews can be for your product or service or even just a positive comment on your blog. You can also reach out to others in your industry who or customers offline and highlight their experience both online an in your print marketing materials and ads.

Add Ratings to your Website

Ratings are great for products and blog posts. They work better with men than women. Women prefer the emotional connection of a review while men like the objective measure of ratings. Be aware though that you may need to ask people to provide feedback in order for them to rate your product, service, or blog post.

Gather Testimonials

Customers new and old love to be asked about their experience, whether good or bad. Find some good testimonials and plaster them all over the place. You should use them on your site, sales page, product brochures, and the back of business cards.

You should also consider getting testimonials from others in your marketplace that have complimentary products. This is similar to the quotes on the back of a new book. This will also help you attract those complimentary customers to your business when you use this person’s quote on your site.

Create an Active Facebook Fanpage or GooglePlus Account

This only works for businesses who have an audience on Facebook, but for them it can be powerful.

Create a Twitter Presence

On Twitter you have a follower list. This is essentially a simple measure of your influence. Twitter is much easier to navigate than Facebook and you can easily target your competitors “followers”. There is a big opportunity if your industry is on Twitter.


Original post by Peter Hanschke via francis-moran

Startups begin with little to no money. Much of the early development of their product is funded by the owner, by his or her friends and maybe even by an angel. Every dollar is used wisely and focused at the topmost activity. To build the product from concept through to MVP (Minimum Viable Product)and to the point where a small number of customers can use the product, the company has one, maybe two, full- or part-time developers. In some cases the owner pitches in occasionally to help in development or testing.

Young and lean

In such an environment, drive, enthusiasm and the will to succeed fuels the development process. The product takes shape as the development iterations roll by. Occasionally more money is needed to fuel the development engine, which the owner must somehow secure. Without real customers validating the solution, it’s difficult to get significant funding to speed up the development process or build a more enriched product.

Despite the tough times at this stage of the startup, this is in fact a very desirable situation.

A frugal existence means that every hour the development team works on creating the product is closely inspected. Every element that is added to the product (a line of code or a chip or a circuit) is targeted at reaching the objectives of the product. In other words, every element plays a key role in securing those first few customers. Nothing is added for the sheer joy of building something “neat.” Why? Because the company can’t afford to spend money on adding things that do not contribute to reaching its early goals. Marketing campaigns are focused on awareness for the purposes of attracting customers, while operations are located in the minimal required office space. The startup embraces a frugal mentality and only spends what it absolutely has to.

There is an interesting byproduct of this situation … business frugality leads to the creation of a lean product – a product that only contains what is absolutely necessary in terms of functionality, user interface, documentation and so forth. This does not mean that the product is awful or ugly. It just means that it meets the early objectives and absolutely no more. If the rules in my MVP blog are followed, then in addition to being lean, the product will support the primary use scenarios that are needed by the early customers in the target market. Come to think of it, this is the ideal scenario.

Over indulgence

Products as they age or mature have a tendency to become large and bloated. How does this happen? Some products expand to address additional market problems in the existing market or to address other markets. In many cases, however, the resulting “bloat” is a result of receiving the million-dollar cheque.

When the product is first formulated, the members of the startup have many ideas for it. They create lists of features. They cross-reference the lists with potential competitors, if they exist. Business reality sets in and given their financial situation, business frugality drives what is added to the product. In other words, only those features that will help to achieve the objectives are added. But those lists still exist. They may become a bit stale, but they still exist. Expressions like “when we have the time and money we’ll get to that list” abound.

Early customers react positively to the first version of the product, which leads to more customers, which attracts attention in the investment community. And this is where the problem begins – the startup receives its first large amount of money.

This can come either from an investor or a customer that places a large order. In most cases the reaction is to devote some of the money to marketing and some to development. On the development side, people are hired – maybe that original team of one or two developers expands to five or more. The list is resurrected and the team begins tackling each of the items on it. Additional customers add more requests to the list.