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[Interview]: How Sweet Tooth Turned their First 30 Customers into a Multimillion Dollar Business

[Interview]: How Sweet Tooth Turned their First 30 Customers into a Multimillion Dollar Business

One of the toughest challenges startups face is the transition from small fry to big fish. The secret “growth” formula behind each business is very different! The race to the top is seeing who can determine their proven growth strategy first while capitalizing on itSteve Deckert.

I sat down with Steve Deckert, Co-Founder and Marketing Lead for Sweet Tooth and discussed with him some of the early stage growth tactics his team used to grow their business from 30 customers to over 3000+.

Sweet Tooth is a Canadian-based E-commerce loyalty platform for online businesses. The platform helps brands increase sales through points-based programs and campaigns. Started in 2011, Sweet Tooth has since raised more than $2.25 million in seed funding.

From our interview together, I highlighted three key learnings points below:

1) Pre-sell your Product

“We identified a need, where no solution existed.”

Before Steve and his co-founders built a product, they had already generated sales.  How? By speaking to potential customers and simply asking if they would put money down for Sweet Tooth to be built. Not only does pre-selling provide early financial funds to carry out development costs, but it also acts as the strongest form of customer validation.

Magento is an opensource E-commerce platform that helps businesses sell to customers online. Browsing through the Magento forums, the Sweet Tooth team noticed a need for a loyalty rewards function. After talking to 300 people through cold emails and phone calls, around 35 people expressed interest in a solution. Steve mentioned that even if he could not get a customer to pre-pay, he would try to get them to verbally commit.

2) Involve your Core Customers

“If you make other people successful, you will generally be successful.”

Your first set of paying customers are extremely important because they act as a sample size of the bigger market. Their feedback will help you determine whether your product and marketing is working or not. Involving your customers in the product development phase of the business will create an evangelical-like relationship. As Steve puts it, if you make other people successful, in general you will be successful as well. Your core customers can help create half of your users through word of mouth marketing.

What really helped kick-launch Sweet Tooth were positive testimonials and reviews on third-party websites. By establishing a personable relationship with customers, Steve and his team were able to rally a team of vocal ambassadors. People who will verbally market your product to others, for absolutely no cost to you!

To this date, Steve is still in touch with many of his first customers. He always tries his best to meet in person or video call for meetings. The customer sales team has since been expanded to offer the same great service to Sweet Tooth’s 3000+ customers.

3) Be Human

“If you understand people enough, you can present things in a way people want to be a part of.”

The last piece of advice that Steve shared is the the importance of preserving a human element while building a business. At the end of the day, your business is for the people! If you can put yourself in your customers shoes and make a connection, they will be on your team. This could means tweeting at individual customers, sending personalized emails, or showcasing the employees behind Sweet Tooth. Essentially, anything that helps build a human connection between business and customer.

In the online web product industry, customers would much rather pay an up-front cost over a subscription fee. When Sweet Tooth made this exact change after their 2.25M seed funding, part of their easy transition was due to strong customer relationships.

Becoming the standard for loyalty online

Starting as what was originally a side project, Sweet Tooth today is a fledgling startup growing at a healthy 15%+ customers per month. Things are looking really exciting for Sweet Tooth as they hope to launch on other platforms. Their goal? To become the standard for loyalty online.

I would like to give a huge thanks to Steve for sharing his words of wisdom. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out the company blog. To end things off, here are a few fun questions we asked Steve!

Pet Peeve:

When people don’t believe in themselves.

Cups of Coffee:

Usually 3 extra-large cups a day.

Morning Ritual:

Wake up, read the news, clear our emails & notifications, shower, food, head to work, and grab a coffee.

Book Recommendations:

Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a must for any entrepreneur. Anything by Seth Godin.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Transformers:

Definitely Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! I remember once getting two of the same Ninja Turtle puzzles for Christmas and I decided to keep both since I loved them so much.

Favorite Quote:

This is my own quote – “Life is a vacation”.  Just as we go on “vacations” to experience new things and feel different, this same approach can be used for life! You only have one life. If there is anything worth doing, you should be happy doing it.

4 Powerful Sniply Features You May Have Missed

4 Powerful Sniply Features You May Have Missed

At Sniply, we are constantly working to develop new features that make it easier to create and share Sniply links. We are increasingly trying to find better ways to integrate into the workflow of our users, whether that’s integrating with 3rd party systems, creating more powerful analytics, or extending onto new platforms. However, sometimes we find that we release features quietly and leave it up to our users to discover those features all on their own. That leads to some incredibly powerful features being glossed over all too often. Here are my top 4 most-powerful Sniply features that are under-used:

1) Form Snips

All of our users have created a Sniply link that uses the classic call-to-action button. However, many of them don’t get the chance to try out the call-to-action form. Having the ability to gather newsletter subscribers on top of any content you can think of is incredibly powerful and is a great way to convert your social followers into subscribers to your mailing list. Recently, we also added Mailchimp Integration so that anyone who fills out your form-based call-to-action is automatically pushed onto one of your Mailchimp lists.

2) RSS Feeds

RSS is a great tool for collecting all of your favourite shareable content to one place, where you can easily curate it and post it. Not only does our extension integrate nicely with many of the tools used to do this, but we also have “Sniply Feeds” which allow you to convert entire feeds of content into Sniply links. which you can then share as you please. To find out more, you can check out my earlier post on the power of RSS and how Sniply uses it.

3)  Extension Integrations

Do you know how many platforms the Chrome and Firefox extensions integrate with? The list includes 24 of the most popular social networks, sharing tools, link shorteners, and content curation platforms. For example, Facebook, Twitter, Buffer and HootSuite, to name a few. In all of these great tools, the extension monitors for situations where you probably want to create a Sniply link and then creates the link as you want it done. If you want to try the extension, you can check out the Chrome one here and the Firefox one here (note that at the time of writing, the Firefox extension is still waiting for a Firefox employee to inspect it)

4) Hoverpost by Sniply

Sniply recently acquired Hoverpost, which allowed us to incorporate some of their great technology. Their main focus is embedding content on-top of the page that you would like to drive content to. Some content is, by definition, embeddable (content like youtube videos, vimeo videos, soundcloud tracks, slideshare presentations, and images). If you make a Sniply with content like those mentioned and provide a destination URL through a call-to-action button, Sniply changes the way that it generates the Sniply page to embed the content on-top of your destination page, increasing your conversion rate.

For example, if I snip this funny youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMmdl4VltD4) and have my button point to http://snip.ly, then the video gets placed on top of the Sniply website automagically! Check it out: http://snip.ly/Om2

If you are looking for better ways to use Sniply, why not try out these tools. You won’t regret it, I promise 🙂