GTM Planning For Early Stage Startups: Ankur Nagpal

GTM Planning For Early Stage Startups: Ankur Nagpal

When we ask founders about their GTM (Go-To-Market) plan, the answer we mostly do not want to hear is paid social media marketing. Investors want the founders to have solid GTM strategies that scale with their company, being more efficient with customer acquisition while also being fast. Second-time founder and investor Ankur Nagpal shares how he plans to lay out his GTM for his new startup, Ocho, without spending money on traditional paid marketing. Ankur previously founded Teachable, an edtech startup that was acquired for a quarter of a billion dollars, and now he is venturing into building a wealth management product for businesses. Here are the summarized thoughts from Ankur along with my additional takes:

  1. SEO: Straight off the bat, one of the best ways to get discovered by relevant users is through SEO. Ankur and his team started investing in SEO even before launching Ocho's website. SEO is a continuous process, and the gains become visible as time goes on. Shuvo Rahman, Founder and CEO of MyAlice, shared a piece on how he initiated programmatic SEO for his startup, which is relevant.
  2. Education Product: When you are trying to disrupt a market or create a new one, offering a better solution than the current alternative is crucial. For users, getting accustomed to the new method can be convenient if they have access to high-quality educational content. Webflow University and Switch by CoinSwitch are also good examples in this case.
  3. Creator Brand for Team Members: Distribution is critical these days, and relying solely on a few team members is not enough to spread the word. Ankur is leveraging his own follower base by building his personal brand to promote Ocho.
  4. Influential Investors: When raising funds for your startup, there should be strategic value added from every investor you take money from. This can include domain expertise, a relevant audience, local support, etc.
  5. Embedded Creator/Influencer Partnership: Ankur shared his experience from Teachable's early days when they brought in influential figures and embedded them in the company's content strategy.
  6. Channel Partnership with Complementary Businesses: Many companies provide solutions for the same demographic. By partnering with them, you can reach their customers in a different space. This benefits both you and the partnering company, as customers receive cross-functional value along with potential discounts.
  7. Building in Public: Although there are pros and cons to it, building in public helps with distribution. Ankur and many other founders are leveraging Twitter to share their learnings and outcomes as they build their startups.
  8. Lean GTM: Ankur experienced a loss of productivity with a large marketing team early on. Currently, he is planning to have a very lean team with a lean GTM plan – a three-person team focused on SEO, Education Products, and Social/Community. This is arguably a vital step for any early-stage company when it comes to hiring for the right roles.
  9. Affiliate Program: Ankur mentions that this is the only "paid" method they will be using, but in a selective manner. Affiliates can otherwise lead to a spammy user experience.
  10. Customer Stories: These are ideally the stories that highlight the product value and how it made a difference in customers' lives.
  11. Frequent Launches: As Ocho is in the early stage, Ankur and his team are planning to do a launch event every 6-10 weeks to keep their audience engaged. This is a good tactic to keep the team motivated towards the main vision, but the frequency should be carefully adjusted according to the stage of the company.

Feel free to follow Ankur on Twitter and see the tweet here:

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