Learning Growth Hacking from Tom

Car Hacking Just Got Real

What does an empty parking lot, video camera and two cars have to do with growth hacking? Let me explain: I spent the Summer months between my two years of business school interning for MassChallenge, a startup accelerator in the heart of the startup nation, Israel. I wanted to see, breathe and feel the real hard-core entrepreneurs, figure out what makes them so willing to embark on risky ventures, and maybe even found a startup of my own someday.

I learned a lot that Summer, but what inspired me most was how my boss went from being college student with a music major to becoming marketing director of a $30M cyber-security startup. When I started working for Tom, I had no idea who he was or what Argus, the company rated 1st in top 15 Israeli startups of 2016, actually stood for. After following Tom around for a couple of weeks and hearing him present to a number of tourist groups, I learned just how great he actually was.

Tom was an undergraduate student at the IDC college in Herzliya. He spent his evenings hanging out at the university incubator, where he met with a group of tech students. Together, they set out to create a company that would protect cars from cyber attacks. The Argus team reached out to all the major car manufacturers to request meetings and received rejections from all of them. Undeterred, Tom identified a different strategy. If the car companies didn’t want to play nice, they would have to play dirty. Tom set out with a team of videographers to an empty parking lot, where his experts hacked cars in front of the camera. The driver would press on the brakes and the car would keep on driving. The driver would turn left but the car would keep on driving straight. This amateur video was uploaded to Youtube, picked up by the Wall Street Journal, and surprise surprise, the car companies were lining up to meet with the Argus teams and understand potential implications.

I returned to New York determined to try my hand at a startup. After eight months of toiling over ShopDrop (will post more to describe some challenges and highlights), we were thrilled to make it into the NYU Summer Launchpad accelerator, following startup giants like Brooklinen and Theatre Galleria. My goal this Summer is to growth hack New York. I want to grow our user base from 20k users to 100k, and will keep this blog on medium to track my progress and report learnings.

Looking forward to the journey!

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