Creating a startup without a fixed idea is like building a startup backward. But that’s precisely how our startup, Zupyak, unfolded — and it worked.
Our journey began when my co-founder, Qi Cao, was exploring various startup ideas. The one he went on to build was a blog platform designed for businesses, emphasizing industry-specific communities for content marketing, like a B2B version of Medium. The platform organically grew its user base to over 300,000 globally, with 50,000 articles shared monthly. Witnessing this rapid growth, we identified a strong market trend. Due to the increased paid marketing costs, finding new and cheaper ways of acquiring customers through content has become top of mind for startups and small businesses.
Growth only happens if you allow yourself to test and test again
Getting attention from your target audience has never been more complex, and it’s not getting easier. The cost of advertising on Facebook went up by 89% last year. Although arguably positive for us as consumers, the privacy trend is causing paid marketing costs to soar.
The most significant advantage over others in your industry is your ability to move fast and adapt.
Marketing is usually the problem you tackle after you’ve figured out what product to build. However, for us, it was the other way around. Qi ran the content platform as a side project, and after extensive testing of different marketing efforts, he successfully built a growth loop. Users who posted content also shared it, leading to a compounding effect on user growth.
Network effects are challenging, but the key lesson is that you will know what works once you test. Keep testing various marketing tactics until you strike gold, and measure your results to see if they were successful. For channels like paid ads, it’s relatively straightforward — you can track click costs and customer conversion rates. However, measurement becomes trickier for other channels, like community outreach or forums. You can create unique tracking links for each test using tools like Bitly. This allows you to evaluate which messaging or community engagement strategy yields the best results.