Matouš Roskovec
May 12, 2016 · 7 min read
There is something magical about this place.

I’m on my own today. Martin and Vu have a meeting at Adobe in San Francisco. They leave early in the morning.

I open my e-mail: the first talk was cancelled. All right, more time for breakfast.

I pick up my skateboard and together we cruise through the calm streets of Mountain View. I arrive just in time. I collect my Tejava boldly smooth ice tea that I forgot on my table on Friday. It comes in handy to get my focus sharp for the first talk.

This is the last chance to learn something at first-hand from our great 500 speakers. It’s the last day of the Marketing Hell Week.

Outbound Marketing & Sales

It’s 11am. Ryan Williams is behind the mic to talk about Lead Generation. Ryan is a sales guy, the VP of Sales at Lead Genius to be exact. Ryan understands targeting as the most efficient way to connect with your ideal customer. So before you take up on such a quest you need to know who that Mr Perfect you want to talk to is.

How to set up the Ideal Customer Profile?

Ryan suggests answering these 3 questions:

1. What is the vertical market?

What is the best soil for your product? A finance company? E-commerce platform? A software company?

2. What size is the company (you want to sell to)?

This includes not just a number of employees, but also revenue, type of funding and capacity.

3. What trigger event has recently happened?

You should know (or even create) the right moment for the close. For example, they might have released a new product (which further development might need your product), or they surpassed a certain level (revenue, development phase, research milestone, expansion of the marketing budget…), or maybe they just fired their CFO, so there are chances the new one might talk to you.

The burning question that pops is “How do I know about such a trigger event in time?” or “How do I know about it prior to this event?”

Do your homework:

  • check the company’s presss releases and PR on a regular basis
  • know how the company’s stocks are doing
  • meet the company’s representatives at conferences they go to
  • check who they are hiring (this can tell you a lot about what they need)
  • just an FYI, your client is leaving, maybe you still have a chance to turn this situation around and make it a trigger moment

To master your Customer Profile, you might consider building personas:

1. Figure out who (and where and when) decides about buying a product like yours. This is your guy, your meeting, your chance.

2. Define 5 things that the decision makers struggle with (and your product solves).

3. Investigate the decision style. What factors determine that the decision will be made? Is there a committee that has to aprove cooperation with your company? Who’s in it?

Say you have your Ideal Customer Profile and you cross reference it with the CRM database or a mailing list that you have. Did you find a perfect fit? Great.

Before you hit SEND, there a couple things to think about when you initiate contact:

1. Often you only get one chance

2. Customize your e-mail/letter and make it personal

3. Get the name right (triple check)

4. Don’t start with how great your product is. It's not about you.

Here's an example:

Show interest before you start selling.

Enough said. If you’re serious about Sales, dedicate at least one hour a day to your research to find new prospects that might fit your ideal candidate.

Lunch time.

I have a few slices of pizza and chat with the Co-founders of Parkbench about what to do about their landing page. A quick tip that I learned during this conversation: Instead of killing someone’s idea tell them “mmm maybe A/B test it (let them find out on their own)”.

Next is Elizabeth Yin talking about Predictable Revenue. She offers a nice summary about leads:

Work with leads to predict your revenue. Leads can be devided into inbound and outbound leads. Inbound leads have already expressed interest about coming to you. Outbound leads is the truly potential of the market — the people who are willing and able to buy something like what you offer. For more information on predictable revenue read a book called Predictable Revenue (how predictable, right?).

How to cold call a.k.a. persuade someone in a heart beat?

Probably the most theatrical speaker I've ever seen, Taariq Lewis, walks into the room and starts to ask questions face-to-face:

Do you cold call? Why? Why not?”

Imagine a combination of a preacher, stand up show artist and Samuel Jackson from Pulp Fiction (only with smaller hair and no killing apetite). This guy kills it with punchlines. In about a minute he has the attention of everyone in the room by putting up a disclaimer:

You will forget everything I will tell you. But I still try to talk to you.”

Then he vividly shows how everyone's pitch sucks (too complicated, too systemized, too boring, too filled with jargon)…

“Here is how you cold call!”

Even if your marketing strategy doesn’t account for cold calls, you can use this:

  • Don’t start a phone call with boasting about what you have. The fact is that people always have better things to do than to listen to you. Especially if you’re trying to sell.
  • The only thing you need to focus on is to keep the person on the phone for as long as possible.
  • Make sure you persuade the person on the other side to do one thing that gets you closer to your final goal.
  • Whenever you pitch a proposition, prepare for the “Dude I’m busy, what the F do you want?!” scenario.
  • Unless your potential customer works for the government, he is always in a hurry.
  • And please, for the love of the allmighty, make it short! Something I should think about when I compile these articles. Anyway…

How to scale your growth?

One thing anyone who means business should seriously consider is building your own Growth Team. Matt Lerner gave us some hints how to make theat possible. Your Growth team should consist of:

  • Artistic people — design + copy
  • Strategy (break it down to tap points — mety) + Decision makers
  • Analytics who understand the difference between causality and correlation
  • Testing maestro

Though each article for the past 10 days was quite exhausting I couldn’t account for all of the lectures. I kept my notes and will share them with you later on.

The End of Hell

The Marketing Hell Week was not so devilish as it sounds. It was filled with know-how and motivation. It’s not that every lecture would consist only of new things from top to bottom. For example we knew that MRR is important. We were already using Mixpanel. Our growth curve was already going up. Our e-mailing didn’t suck. Our landing page wasn’t bad…


But that doesn’t mean we’ve already made it. Oh no. Listening to the importance of each one of these things from the industry experts lead us to rethink our product strategy.

So what’s the plan?

In the upcoming four months we will:

  • focus on one key metric
  • move our product to new heights and bring it to more people (these are not empty words, we already know how)
  • build an Avocode growth team
  • hire new developers
  • consult our strategy with 500 mentors and our batch mates
  • call our moms more often, eat healthy, have a good time… and hopefully skateboard a little :)

Though this initial week is over, something much greater is about to start. From now on we will be briefing you weekly about our time in the Valley. We’ll be (hopefully) posting a fresh article each Monday.

I think I speak for the entire Avocode team, when I say that it's a great honor to be a part of the 500 Startups family.


On the first day of Marketing Hell Week the second question people asked each other was:

So you’re the founder?”

I humbly replied that the role belongs to Vu, Martin (who was standing right next to me) and Petr, who persistently leads the rest of our team back in Prague.

A funny thing is that I didn’t feel like I’m missing something: when I saw all the legal procedures that Martin has to go through and other responsibilities that belong to the the founders I felt like:

Hey, I don’t have any responsibilities. I don’t carry any weight on my shoulder. I’m just cruisin’.

Now, I know better.

My responsibility is to prove that I deserve my place on the team.

My responsibility is the same as anyone’s on our team be it in Prague or San Francisco.

My responsibility is to grow avocados.

Matt out. 🎤💥

Avocode at 500 Startups

What is it like to be a part of 500 Startups? Get the first hand cover. Follow our stories!

Matouš Roskovec

Written by

Creative Lead @Avocode, 500 Startups alumni, ex-Content Strategist @SignalsNetwork, marketing strategy consultant, wannabe chef, addicted to Netflix.

Avocode at 500 Startups

What is it like to be a part of 500 Startups? Get the first hand cover. Follow our stories!

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