Growth Hacking as a Start-Up Strategy

One of the things that I love about technology is that there is always so much to learn. And so it is that I heard a term unfamiliar to me called “growth hacking”. Naturally, I needed to go figure it out. Here is what I learned.  

big ideas

“Wikipedia defines growth hacking as a marketing technique developed by technology startups and uses creativity, analytical thinking, and social metrics to sell products and gain exposure. It can be seen as part of the online marketing ecosystem, as in many cases Growth Hackers are simply good at using techniques such as search engine optimization, website analytics, content marketing and A/B testing which are already mainstream. Growth hackers focus on low-cost and innovative alternatives to traditional marketing, e.g. utilizing social media and viral marketing instead of buying advertising through more traditional media such as radio, newspaper, and television. Growth hacking is particularly important for startups, as it allows for a “lean” launch that focuses on “growth first, budgets second.”

The problem facing most start-ups

Initially, they have little if any money and they don’t come equipped with a traditional marketing background. With no money and little marketing background, growth hackers as the question “how do I get customers”, but they answer the questions testing and analytics: A/B tests, landing pages, looking at what goes viral and so on.

Sean Ellis coined the phrase in 2010 and he did it because he was frustrated. Frustrated that after helping his clients use his strategies for building start-up growth quickly, once he left the picture problems started. Early in a start-ups life, there is only thing that matters. Growth. In the early phase, you don’t need traditional marketers to come in to build a marketing team or establish a strategic marketing plan, which is important later on but not so much int he beginning. As a result, traditional marketing approaches were falling flat and Sean felt compelled to redefine how start-up companies thought about growth.

Traditional marketing versus growth hacking

Traditional marketers understand traditional products, but the Internet and SaS (software-as-a-service) platforms have changed all that. Neither a growth hacker or a marketer are better than the other. The focus is different and the thinking is different. I find the concept fascinating, and if you run a product start-up, I encourage you get more deeply into this topic, if you haven’t already.

I learned that Growth Hacking really about executing fast, testable campaigns at low cost. According to those in the know, Growth Hacking is more an attitude than a methodology. At Koyo, the suggest these common practices:

  • Get Creative
  • Design the Funnel
  • Convert
  • Know the Numbers
  • Assess
  • Build
  • Capture and Optimize


Fascinating topic that I will continue to follow. In the course of doing some homework, I found some resources you might find helpful.

The Definitive Guide to Growth Hacking by Neil Patel and Bronson Taylor

35 Growth Hacking Tools for Marketers that Don’t Code was pulled together by Chloe Mason Gray on the KISSMetrics blog. Spoiler alert – Nimble made the list, which I thought was pretty cool!

What Happens When a Growth Hacker Launches a Media Company by Morgan Brown at

Find a collection of great stuff related to Growth Hacking over on Reddit  that includes a pretty funny Dilbert cartoon on the topic.