How to Launch and Grow a Consumer Tech Startup With Laurence Holloway [Podcast]

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In episode 17 of the Fliplet podcast Laurence Holloway, Co-founder and former CTO of Lovestruck, joined us. If you’re interested in marketing, selling, or growing a product at the various stages of a startup then this will be for you.

Be sure to check out the full episode and subscribe to our podcast series.

Who is Laurence Holloway?

Laurence launched Lovestruck as a startup out of the UK and was the technical co-founder and CTO for ten years, right the way through to the company was sold to an international buyer.

He previously worked as a technical lead and consultant specializing in e-commerce, publishing and CRM systems for both large corporations and various startups.

The growth of Lovestruck

Within 6 months, Lovestruck went from scratch to a product that was attracting paying users. The concept of Lovestruck stemmed from the desire to create a product to meet the needs of a sophisticated urban audience.

The aim was to empower single people with a great lifestyle, and encourage them to get out and enjoy the city with other people sharing similar values and ambitions.

One point Laurence made was that there will be occasions where you may feel put off following through with your new product or idea. Don’t let negative feedback deter you too much, especially before launching.

It’s important to resonate with your audience and understand the customer. e.g. knowing what tone to use, what they want from the product, and entertaining them where needed.

Challenges of a startup

According to Laurence, On-boarding was something that took years to get right. Improving conversion rates for the high amount of top of the funnel traffic proved to be a constant challenge.

Additionally, Lovestruck was faced with the challenge of being first to market on mobile and needing to maintain a consistent experience across multiple platforms. This is something that we all now take for granted as many app or web building platforms will do this automatically.

Managing a team that was supported by both in-house and outsourced staff was also something less common back when Lovestruck started. It’s now easier for companies to be partially, or entirely, remote. However, weaker network connections, poor communication software, and having most your conversations via email makes life more difficult for remote workers.

Promoting the company: advertising on the London tube

Initially, no one was advertising on the tube in the dating industry. Competitors of lovestruck were prioritising television advertisements and other channels.

Choosing the right audience was key to the success of the promotion. Lovestruck were targeting people who were cash rich and time poor, and their adverts reflected that.

People began to remember adverts over time, but the challenge was then to drive them onto your product and become a paying customer. Brand awareness might get more eyes on your product, but as Laurence mentioned, high traffic of top of the funnel traffic doesn’t always result in a positive conversion rate.

Optimising your advertising efforts

The importance of tube advertising is to stick with your campaigns. Having a few adverts for a couple of weeks won’t show long-term returns. Interestingly, match.com reacted to the Lovestruck tube advertisements by massively outspending them in the same tube carriages.

However, it seemed they also inadvertently raised the profile and attractiveness of the whole sector!

Advertisements that sit inside the tube carriages are often absorbed by commuters more deeply rather than escalator ads which people glance at. That’s fine for concerts or events, but for a new product or new company it’s ideal if the target audience has time to consume the advert.

Laurence suggested that testing new advertisements using social promotion is a great way to position your brand using a range of tones and voices to see what works best.

Dealing with shifting customer expectations

Customer expectations shift over time and it can be driven by the products they use. Initially, the free and mobile services provided a low quality, compromised experience but as time progressed those services improved rapidly to threaten the established, paid operators.

Subscription models provide an impressive lifetime value from their customers but they’ll leave if you don’t adopt to meet the changing needs and expectations of consumers. This means there is a need to place a priority on keeping up with your customers desires, understanding what they want, and how they need to use your product.

What are upcoming trends and what’s ahead for mobile

For Laurence, the future revolves around the future of work and how businesses and employees are going to operate together as technologies and the economy rapidly change over the coming decade. He mentions that it feels as if businesses are currently lagging behind when it comes to using mobile to better communicate with their employees.

Don’t forget to check out the full episode and subscribe to the Fliplet Podcast Series.

You can connect to Laurence through LinkedIn.