By Guest Author: Áine Mulloy
As a start-up, keeping an eye on your spending is vital. On the one hand, you need to spend money to make money, but how do you know that you’re spending in the right areas. When you take everything into account it’s easy to hemorrhage money. As we bootstrapped GirlCrew to start, we had to be creative with our spend. To that end, we spent only $60 in our first year and with some creative thinking managed to build a social network that spanned 4 continents.Can a startup really survive the first year with only $60? @AineMulloy tells the @GirlCrewHQ story: Click To Tweet
Building the GirlCrew Community
When faced with limited resources, you need to think about piggybacking. There are thousands of platforms out there that you can leverage to your advantage. Initially, we started on Tinder. The notorious dating platform seems like an unusual place to start, but at the time it was the ideal place to find our primary audience – women aged 25-32. By changing the gender settings on a profile, and adding an explainer graphic, we flipped the rules of the platform. Instead of women seeking men to date, we were women looking to find other women interested in platonic friendships and fun. From there, GirlCrew moved to Facebook. Utilizing the groups feature allowed us to create local city groups anywhere in the world. All with zero spend. It took time, but no additional money needed to be spent. All we needed was an internet enabled device and internet access.
During this time, the founding team was all working other full-time jobs. So we had to work around these hours. Our daily commutes became our second office. Instead of listening to music, we approved member requests, did admin, sent emails, scheduled social media and swiped our way through Tinder. We used Facebook Messenger like companies are using Slack today. We started building a presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Building the community, and honing the guidelines. To help us with the workload, we leveraged the community. By creating a system of GirlCrew community admins, the network became self-policing and allowed us to expand rapidly. Our focus was solely on organic growth, but the rapid progress led to some press exposure which boosted our numbers.Spending can make or break a #startup. See how @GirlCrewHQ got creative with their first year's budget: Click To Tweet
So where did we spend? We spent it mainly on some content creation. We needed help with funny content, that would be shared widely, and drive people to the GirlCrew site. None of the co-founders could write humor, but we had a member who could. As the community gained traction, we started doing some minimal tests with social media advertising. This was the home of our network, the prime place to find new members and expand our audience. However, we had limited resources. If we couldn’t see results with even a small spend, it wasn’t worthwhile. But as we knew our brand from the inside out, we lived it, we used it. This small spend yielded results and we saw a spike in engagement.
We’ve all heard the stories of how giants like Apple, Amazon, Google and Disney started in garages. In a way, so did we. But we went even further and simply moved in. For GirlCrew, that garage belonged to someone else, and we didn’t have to pay rent to be there. This allowed us to test our value proposition and note the benefits and limitations of the platforms we were using, giving us invaluable insights for building our own platform. We were able to look at what other companies were doing, examine our own network and work towards creating something that would serve their needs better. But in the meantime, we’d built a growing community with thousands of members all for a mere $60 in year one.