The ultimate cheat sheet for growth hacking

Jul 10, 2016

There is a painful amount of terrible advice in the Growth Hacking space. It annoys me to see entrepreneurs wasting so much of their time on strategies that only work in extremely niche cases, or methods which have zero chance of scaling into anything that will affect a company’s’ bottom line, particularly if they’re a startup with no money or money running out in the next three-six months. Most growth hacks can move the needle pretty fast, but no one wants to give those away. So here’s a cheat sheet anyone can use to find/use growth hacks literally today. Feel free to ignore my advice, of course. 😉


  1. Growth Hacking is a successor to (black hat) SEO. By that I mean there are white hat (ethical) strategies that can work (e.g. Uber’s refer a friend and you both get credit) and black hat strategies (like the “sharing economy” site that spammed thousands of ads on Craigslist to get early traction, the social network that texted and emailed your entire phone book when you downloaded it, and the social news site which started with hundreds of fake user accounts. You can find all three easily enough with a bit of Googling, if interested). Also, the best growth hacks are kept secret by a tiny segment of people who make money through affiliates (more on that later) and running marketing agencies with seemingly magic results. You won’t be able to find them.
  2. It’s virtually impossible to hire good growth hackers. They can make thousands of dollars every day from affiliates, controlling thousands of fake accounts or websites to send a tiny trickle of traffic from each one of them. In aggregate, this adds up to a TONNE of traffic/revenue/users. Which, naturally adds up to a tonne of money. So most will never need to join a startup for a comparatively small monthly wage.
  3. As such, you need to learn how to growth hack yourself. You’ll have to hire someone eventually, but having solid knowledge will reduce the amount they can bullshit you.
  4. Disregard basically everything you read on blogs about Growth Hacking. Ditto if you wanted to find out how to do Content marketing, social media, or SEO. It’s 49% people who have no idea what they’re talking about, and 49% those who do know, but don’t give away any of their key secrets. (About 2% can be useful, but it’s probably a bad use of your time to try and find it).
  5. Forums and secret groups are where the real gold is if you want to be a growth hacker. Jump into a time machine and step back into the 1990’s, when people would converse on message boards that look horrible (by today’s standards), and be certain that no-one is using their real names. Because these sites are hidden away from the public and look so off-putting, the real growth hackers can converse and share secrets/knowledge in peace (they never share the niches/products/services they’re working on, but the methods can be applied to lots of different products, and by helping each other, all ships rise with the tide). Some of these boards you have to pay to be on to keep the n00bs (amateurs who are new to Growth Hacking) from hijacking the threads with questions they could solve with a simple google search. Many of these private forums are worth paying for. Finding the right ones, of course, will require some testing.
  6. Buying traffic is for losers when you’re starting out. There are so many ways to get free traffic. If you can’t get any, you aren’t fit to be a growth hacker. Having said that, you will need a budget to try out tools, software, e-books, memberships etc. to find growth hacks out of the box. Some will work, some won’t. that’s the game we’re in. Trial and error. Some of these are known as “zero day” hacks – They are loopholes that will eventually get found and plugged by Google/the social networks etc. So make hay while the sun is shining, kids.
  7. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. The higher the risk, the higher the return. It gets easier with time.
  8. Aggression is the precursor to success. It runs through every high-achieving business for the last 100+ years. Growth Hacking is just a new channel for an old emotion. As my Secret Sauce co-author famously said: “Organic growth is almost always a complete lie.” It’s in everyone’s interests for companies not to reveal the tactics they used going from zero to one.
  9. (Caveat) Growth Hacking can’t save a bad product. Even worse, the amount of traffic/users/revenue growth hacks can bring in for virtually any awful product/service can convince investors/founders/employees that everything is going well, until it isn’t. Use Net promoter score and try and get 40% or more of people you survey about your product to say they would be “very disappointed” if the product went away. (Hat tip Sean Ellis for that one).
  10. Don’t worry too much about how your site looks, the placement of the buttons etc. until you have some traffic. Many a startup have spent weeks on the perfect layout, design, and user experience, only to have no idea how to get traffic to try the site out. Once you have the traffic coming in, it’s real easy to tweak and change things to improve your conversion rates. When you don’t have the traffic, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be successful.
  11. Once the word gets out about a growth hack, the clock starts ticking. Influencer networks used to be the cost effective way to reach millions of people easily, by paying teenagers who suddenly found themselves with more eyeballs than most television channels. Once the genie was out of the bottle though, agencies rushed in, prices went up, and people with 5,000 followers started charging $50 to put an Instagram post on their profile for four hours (lol). Influencer marketing is still just about better than more traditional forms of online advertising, but two years ago was an absolute steal.
  12. Always be on the lookout for the next channel/avenue/source. By the time Forbes or Buzzfeed is doing exposes on how kids on Snapchat/Vine/Periscope are earning big bucks as they have thousands of followers, it’s already too late. Whether building the channels yourself or paying others for their reach, being first is everything.
  13. Growth hacks don’t have to be online. My friends at events app Dojo printed out letters saying “We all quit our jobs to start this startup. If you like going out in London please download our app”, stuck them in envelopes, and stood in a train station every morning for three weeks handing them to everyone on their way to work, presuming they may want somewhere to go out after. they got thousands of downloads, met partners and investors, and accidentally found their perfect audience: they had presumed hipsters would be into what they were doing, and in fact found city boys working in finance, who were flush for cash and had no idea where to go out in London, loved it. This 45 minutes it took each morning was time they would have otherwise spent drinking coffee. Find out where your target audience hangs out, and how you can you get in front of them.


We’re halfway through, so here are some questions you might want answered:


  1. Won’t I feel a bit awkward doing this? Yes, you will. Being an entrepreneur is more than just sharing “hustle” memes on Instagram and Facebook and drinking the free beer at a noisy co-working space. If you’re not prepared to make yourself uncomfortable, go and do another job. There are plenty out there.
  2. Do I have to do this? No. If you have a war chest of money, you may be able to spend your way to profitability. (People tend to this through Facebook ads-still a massive opportunity here). This is, of course, very hard to do right. And, you’re losing money, which never feels good.
  3. How do I know any of this is true? You don’t. Everything I’m saying is, ideally, meant to point you in the right direction and give you enough tools/ideas to find your own strategies for growth, and to realise the potential the internet has to grow your startup/business. Once we’ve shown you the basics, you could and should be applying it to new channels in ways no-one has thought of before to get the best results. If you’re an events app, why not take a photo of you with a sign saying “Download our app and find a great date spot” and right swipe/heart everyone on all the major dating apps and sites? It’s your target audience, who will soon need a place to go out. Those damn things have millions of users every day, and no-one thinks to use them in this way. (Caveat: tread lightly, for obvious reasons. That was meant as an example only, not an idea for you to actually do. Besides, I love using dating apps, so don’t ruin them, ha!).
  4. I don’t think this will work. Why shouldn’t I use traditional marketing methods? Growth Hacking isn’t a replacement of traditional marketing methods, it’s best use case is at the very start, when you have no idea where to get your first customers/users, (and dare I say it, you don’t have a brand to ruin). Once you have revenue coming in (or investment revenue) you can start to use paid and more traditional methods (even Facebook have ended up doing ads in train stations, you might have noticed) in order to scale. Growth Hacking takes you from just you and a laptop with an idea (i.e. like every other kid trying to make it in the startups game) to a player in the game, doing real things with real people. As the old saying goes, the first time you receive money online is LITERALLY MAGIC. You are doing all of this for that feeling. Let Growth Hacking try and help you get to that feeling faster. The traditional methods will always be there.
  5. I still don’t think this will work. The only way to know is to try. Start small with some zero risk hacks on Twitter and Instagram (the best places to get attention/clicks for free in a very short space of time) and then work out to the bolder moves. Or don’t. Growth Hacking doesn’t have to be risky. Plenty of companies use very mild hacks alongside traditional methods.
  6. I still don’t… We get it. At some point you’re going to have push past your old momentum and ways of doing things. Chances are, your old ways haven’t got you to where you want to be anyway.
  7. Where do I start? Everything starts with the user. Identifying them, what they want, where they hang out, what platforms they use. Get this wrong and nothing else will work.
  8. Which is the best growth hack? One which doesn’t exist yet, you find, and keep all to yourself. It could be on a new channel, or a new way of reaching people on an existing channel. (If you want to share it with me, that would be cool also!)
  9. What are the biggest mistakes I could make in Growth Hacking? Breaking the law, and not being aggressive enough. Aggression doesn’t just mean reaching out to people, it can be in aggressively optimising what you’re doing and your conversion funnel, aggressively finding new channels to test. Also, remember that classic line from Jurassic Park before you do anything which your gut is telling you IS A VERY BAD IDEA: “You spent so much time wondering whether you could, you never stopped to realise whether you should.”
  10. What do I do once I have traffic? Nail the following: who your ideal users are, (and which group of users to sidestep to next if you reach a saturation point), how your site looks/feels, perfect user onboarding and great first week experience, easy ability to refer friends/others into your service/app, and automated or semi-automated systems to reduce churn. I ain’t even gonna talk about revenue and business model, you should have that covered!
  11. What else can be growth hacked? Virtually everything, particularly anything that involves the internet, so: Online dating, becoming internet famous (which can often lead to real-life fame), or getting a job, for instance, are all made immeasurably easier using Growth Hacking tactics.
  12. What makes you so sure? Outside of the hundreds of stories from virtually every successful internet company ever I’ve ever met/read about, it has taken me from being on welfare/benefits three years ago to launch two websites that got over a million visitors a month, get into the Techstars accelerator, start a successful agency, and travel the world giving talks. It continues to change my life every day.
  13. Any final pieces of advice for anyone who would want to start Growth Hacking today? Twitter and Instagram are, in my opinion, the best platforms for day one Growth Hacking. So much can be done for zero budget, and the returns are so instant that you’ll feel inspired to try other platforms/techniques. Get in touch and let me know how you do!

I’m hiring a growth hacker to teach all my secrets to 😍

Jun 14, 2016

Growth Hacker wanted

(contract-based; Full-time after probation period)

Salary: £pretty good

We’re on a mission to reduce the failure rate of startups. Most startups spend all their time building their product (as they should), then have no idea how to get that crucial first 5,000 users. That’s where we come in. We’re a proactive growth hacking agency who have learned the hard way through scaling websites to millions of monthly visitors, or scaling other companies’ communities into the tens of thousands, virtually overnight. We don’t take ourselves seriously, but we take what we do super seriously. Making things go viral is fun.

Seeing a clients’ minds blown when they get 500 new followers in a week is lolz. We’re doing things no-one else can do, and learning new things every week. We have layers of secret sauce no-one knows about. And they’re going to be powerful when we unleash them. (haha). We’ll be expanding to the United states and Canada (and possibly beyond) in 2016. The company is going to have a lot of interesting clients to work with, so we’re looking for someone who really loves startups and getting stuck in to join.

Some things we’ve done in the last year:

  • Brought a client’s Twitter account from 0 to 15,000 in 3 months, leading to thousands of signups for their startup
  • Hijacked the SXSW hashtag and got 1,700 people to a party in Austin, Texas
  • Given talks about growth hacking from Estonia to L.A. and Las Vegas
  • Helped out The Duke Of York on social media for Pitch@Palace 4.0, met the royal family etc
  • Been featured in Inc., The New Statesmen, The London Economist, & blogged for the likes of Huffington Post, Tech City News, and Tech City UK

Ideal candidate would be someone who is great at social media but wants to become a legend. It’s like a paid apprenticeship of a super-specialist skill the world really wants. The things we’ll teach you are insane- things you wouldn’t have thought are possible. (And of course, we want you to teach us, too!)

The job will mainly be remote working so you can work often on your own terms (to a certain extent, your own hours, around meetings) and be more productive. If the below seems a bit daunting, don’t worry. Full training will be given on every aspect of this. However, if this is all really foreign to you and you’ve barely ever used Twitter, you’ll find it hard to pick it up quickly.

Job responsibilities


Scale our own network and interesting sideprojects. Do amazing, consistent work for clients.

Regular tasks:

Roughly 50% working on/with clients, and 50% on our internal, exciting projects (we have some huge ideas for 2016)

Managing Twitter accounts with over 100,000 followers & growing by 5,000+ a week

(You’ll be responsible for increasing the level of growth of all accounts)

Creating and posting amazing content on these accounts, and more (picture & text)

Client-facing responsibilities: Onboarding new clients, training clients on how to use Social Media (normally via Skype) – This will be a major part of the role

User acquisition and community growth for clients- responsible for meeting client briefs

Consulting clients on user acquisition/growth hacking strategies

Coming up with ideas for campaigns/new accounts/new ways of doing things

Skype and real-life meetings with me

Research tasks, e.g. “Find us 20 influencer sin X niche who can post about a client for a budget of X”


Occasional tasks:

Meeting and/or pitching to clients

Possibly giving talks at some point, as the company scales

Meetings with me/clients

Ability to travel eventually may be useful

Qualifications of the ideal candidate:

Must have:

  • Internet addict. Must have an understanding of internet culture. Honestly, you probably should be someone who spends a LOT of time at their laptop. (the exception would be if you read relevant books instead). For instance, a task might be “find memes/infographics about X and make a folder of them by end of day)
  • Coding experience, or exceptional knowledge of other growth hacking tools to get around this. (Note: I don’t code and it sucks, so you better be good!)
  • Some previous experience with clients/customers. This job is a lot of time alone with your laptop, and the some time client facing. You’ll have to be amazing at both.
  • Love or knowledge of startups.
  • Great knowledge of different social media platforms. Fine to have golden skills on one but must be aware of all of them and why a client should/shouldn’t use one.
  • A general idea of what a company should be doing in the early stages, and red flags to avoid
  • Ability to understand/want to automate EVERYTHING. Without automation, things will be more difficult, which is why a “hacker” mindset is essential.
  • Blackhats very, very welcome 

Nice to have:

  • Previous experience scaling a social media account to impressive numbers
  • Previous experience in a Saas company or role in product (for the sideprojects we work on)
  • Experience in any of the following: Email marketing, content marketing, PR, affiliates, partnerships, sales, SEO.
  • Has run a company or been an early employee of one before.
  • Good with paid social e.g. Facebook/Twitter ads, Adwords


Don’t apply if:

You have no real social media/growth hacking/coding background.

Application process

May be possible to try this on the side while you work somewhere else for a little while (i.e. you can confidentially apply even if you’re working somewhere else if you really want to be a part of this) as if you’re amazing and we click there’ll be no stopping us.

matias instagram shoutout

Email us:

  1. Your C.V. ( Include a link to your LinkedIn and Twitter.
  2. A couple of paragraphs on an interesting growth hack/hack/PR stunt/something interesting you’ve done for a company you’ve worked for. If you’ve produced any interesting sideprojects/blogposts before this could go here instead/also
  3. A couple of paragraphs on why you want to work for us.
  4. Do something unique, special, for extra points. “Here we are now, entertain us”

We’ll then be in touch if you’ve made it to the phone interview/Skype bit. Make it good!

More information:



Excite to hear from you, in particular.



NEW YORK! I’m giving 4 talks on growth hacker marketing June 6th-9th, come see me!

Jun 1, 2016

Hello New York!

I’ve been giving talks across America this past few weeks in support of my step-by-step guide to growth hacking, which has raised over $45,000 on Kickstarter so far. (Check it out here).

If you run your own startup/company, want to build your persona brand, or want to understand how to use social media, SEO, content marketing, and more to own digital marketing, come see me! Most talks are free apart from my sales and personal branding talk on Tuesday:

Monday June 6th (evening) “Growth Hacking: Boost your startup in real-time” in Manhattan:

Free tickets:

Tuesday June 7th (evening) “How to get rich and internet famous” (Hack your sales and personal branding strategy) Tickets:

Wednesday June 8th (evening) “Growth Hacking: Boost your startup in real-time” in Long Island. Free tickets here:

Thursday June 9th (lunchtime) “How to get rich and internet famous” (Hack your sales and personal branding strategy) in Manhattan. Free tickets here:

Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing you, New York!

About me:

I help grow early-stage companies through a combination of rapid social media growth, guerrilla community management tactics, and growth hacks which have seen companies go from zero to thousands of signups/followers/users virtually overnight- so “hacking” is my speciality, though I don’t code- there are so many shortcuts one can use to get ahead.

I founded & They have received nearly 20 million pageviews without any paid marketing spend, while content I have overseen for other clients has received over 150 million page views so far.

My company, Magnific, beat 1500+ other startups to be accepted into prestigious accelerator Techstars London. I was asked by The Duke Of York to help his companies at Pitch@Palace 4.0 and boost social media on the night of the event at St. James’s Palace with The Duchess of York. I have been interviewed in Inc, New Statesman, TechCrunch, and The London Economic , and have written for the likes of Huffington Post and Tech City News. I put on, a one-day conference to help London startup entrepreneurs boost their companies. It attracted 600+ attendees throughout the day and night event.

My company has driven thousands of followers, conversations, and signups for other startups. I have given talks at conferences and events around the world on content marketing, social media, growth hacking, and user acquisition. My “growth hacking in real time” talk was voted best talk at SXSW V2V 2015 in Las Vegas. I am currently on a nine-week north american tour speaking on the subjects of growth hacking, content marketing, sales, and personal branding. I am the cover star of, and guest-edited, the February 2016 issue of “Disrupts” in London UK.

I recently completed a 30-date speaking tour of the United States, speaking at 11 different cities, including AT&T conference in Austin (for SXSW 2016), UCLA, and Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Centre (San Francisco). My first book, “Secret Sauce: A Growth Hacking Playbook” has just come out via Kickstarter. You can buy it now- It’s a digital book/course which was fully funded in it’s first four hours on Kickstarter, and raised over $40,000 in the first three weeks. If you’re looking to increase your users/traffic/revenue, you’ll like this. If you’re looking to get into digital marketing and don’t know where to start, you’ll definitely like this. And if you want to grow your startup, you’ll LOVE this. Lots of actionable, practical advice:

vincent dignan

North American Tour 2016 May-June dates announced!

Apr 19, 2016

Yo! I’m about to hit the road again for my first ever book tour, in support of my Kickstarter project: “Secret Sauce: A step-by-step guide to growth hacking.” (More info here.)

I’ll be giving talks on growth hacking, growing your personal brand, sales, and content marketing in San Francisco, Austin, Houston, Dallas, L.A., and New York City. More to be announced!

Ticket links and full info to be confirmed, but for now:

May 5th Vancouver, Canada  – Red Academy

May 6th Victoria, Canada  – Social Media Camp (Conference)

SF 7th-11th No talks (launching Kickstarter 😁)

May 12th Dallas Confirmed – Sign up

13th AUSTIN, TEXAS – Capital Factory

May 16th AUSTIN – OPEN

May 17th AUSTIN TEXAS General Assembly – Get tickets HERE

May 18th HOUSTON, TEXAS – Get tickets here

May 19th L.A – TBC

May 22nd Nashville – Say Anything

May 23rd L.A. – TBC

May 24th L.A. – Expert Dojo. Sign up!

May 25th SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Products That Count. Grab tickets

May 26th SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Lunch talk – WeWork. Join me!

May 30th – Available to speak in San Francisco – book me!

May 31st SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – Morning talk – Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Centre


June 1st CHICAGO – Available to speak – book me!

June 2nd CHICAGO – Available to speak – book me!

NYC June 6th – NYC – tickets HERE

NYC June 7th –  Manhattan, NYC – Tickets HERE

NYC June 8th – Manhattan, NYC – tickets HERE

NYC June 8th – NYC – lunchtime – tickets HERE

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Vincent Dignan SXSW 2016

Sxsw Interactive 2016: Polyamory, millionaires, parties: Searching for love in a southern town

Mar 23, 2016

I’m on a speaking tour of America right now, and after my first talk at SXSW, I meet a girl named April (not her real name) who tells me “I have about 60 husbands and wives who I married recently. I don’t let most of them fuck me.”

I have always found, while travelling to conferences, you find far more interesting conversations and experiences

from local people. Badge holders tend to ghetto themselves into the official events, lightly drinking alcohol all day

At official events and going to bed by midnight. Fuck that. I want to drink the colours of the night time and meet as many people as possible, experiencing the town the way it naturally is. F you, corporate sponsored parties!

Conferences can change your life if you a) Have an incredible network/meetings set up, or b) You sociopathically stalk influential people and hustle your way into the secret afterparties to get facetime with the powerful millionaires and influencers, some of which can change your life with a single tweet or introduction. I’m not averse to either, but I’m also a single young male living a life I never thought would happen (I was broke and on welfare/benefits three years ago, lots has happened quickly) so I don’t fancy spending some of my only time not working discussing Facebook algorithms and the future of Virtual Reality with men in buttoned-up shirts.

So back to the conversation. I feel something approaching lust, excitement, danger when I talk to this girl. We arrange to meet up later. That night I’m feeling well out of my depth when a photographer comes up to us, takes a picture of her, and starts making out with her. She feels my awkwardness and re-assures me “don’t worry about him, he’s just one of my husbands. I’ll introduce you.”

Though I’ve never had a polyamorous relationship or even considered it as an option, having this night out with April puts me in a conflicted position. I find gender politics are horribly slanted against women who may be promiscuous (sluts) vs. guys who sleep around (studs). So I’m watching a different one of her husband’s join the party every 30 minutes or so, briefly make out with April, then join the rest of her poly tribe. How does this make me feel? On one hand it’s a liberating experience to see someone so free and confident with who they are, on the other I’m completely insecure about someone I fancy continually kissing other people. I head to the bar, totally confused and lost, trying to figure it out. When I look back, there are four people from their tribe kissing at once (tongues overlapping, etc). She is topless now, also. At moments like this I feel like it’s a test of my Britishness. Stereotyped for being sexually unadventurous and prudish with victorian values, can I shake off my suburban upbringing and dissolve into any situation? It would make for far better reading if I did in that moment, but in the end I took a path of least resistance and left without her. (I later found out the poly gang had a “private party” in a hotel room. Oh lord.)

Back in the relatively predictable world of SXSW badge holders, I’m at an “Internet marketing party”. I ask a content marketing agency how they get PR for their clients. “We throw parties to get journalists to like us” he tells me. “We hire a hotel suite, get some quality alcohol and food, and pay models to keep everyone company for a few hours.” One part of me is disgusted with the cynical nature of what he’s saying, but the other part says “You would enjoy it if you were there, would you not?”. I’d like to think I’d be principled enough to say no if I was ever invited,, but who can say? Only in a male-dominated industry would such a thing be acceptable, and we are all subject to our base desires.

There were 118,000 matches on Tinder in Austin in the first 2 days. So even in a place with virtually unlimited free bars and everyone essentially on holiday and staying in hotels in a party town (i.e. all the ingredients to meet lots of people of the opposite sex), tech people still need an app to communicate and find love, rather than talking to the people standing next to them. I could write about the desperation of entrepreneurs working on their company (or high up at a corporate) 15 hours a day and the sexual frustration that comes with having no free time/how an essential part of human life is missing for these people, but am I not also part of that?

I strike it lucky on my final night at SXSW Interactive. I meet a girl who invites me to a secret hotel party at the Four Seasons. This was the party literally everyone would want to go to if they knew it existed. Huge suite, alcohol everywhere, millionaires getting wasted, girls laughing and lying in the bathtub, and hazy discussions with some of the most influential people in tech. A guitar emerges and the editor of a massive tech publication begins an impromptu singalong of “Wonderwall.” If I was a founder running a startup, I would’ve been in dreamland.

I stay up all night and have to fly to my next stop (San Francisco) one hour later. Just before I got on the plane, April texts me, apologising for not seeing me again at SXSW, and sends one final text “ily.” I thought about what to reply, but all I had to offer was my own confusion. Another SXSW was over. Had we improved our lives? Did we get what we lacked back in our hometowns? It had been quite a ride. I fell asleep.


Mar 18, 2016

My first ever speaking tour of America. (Full dates here).

Y’all really made me feel at home.

An amazing two months. (One talk left, in L.A. this Monday, details here.) Visited 13 different cities, gave over 25 talks.

Proper blog post coming soon. Below are some picture highlights.


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5 ways I have wasted my time while building my company

Jan 25, 2016

Towards the end of last year I was doing a few interviews as part of promotion for Secret Sauce Conference, the conference series I run, and was asked a few times by press (and also occasionally after I give talks by attendees): “What would you do differently if you were to start over?” or “What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?”.

Because of hindsight bias and the negative impacts of regretting previous actions, I don’t really have many answers for these questions, “You can only join the dots looking back,” as Steve Jobs used to say. Having said that, I appreciate the point of this question is to find helpful advice for others. So here are five things I regret:

1. Travelling to real-life meetings

Easily the biggest time-waster on this list. From day one of building Planet Ivy right through to fairly recently, weeks of a year have been wasted. Even with validated leads (of people to sell to or to invest in you) the amount of time you put in vs reward is shockingly low. That’s not to say you shouldn’t meet powerful people or those with strong networks, but for the most part, Skype does the job just fine.

I’ve closed deals worth thousands and avoided wasted time in hundreds of “getting to know you” meetings. Put it this way: You have a mid-morning meeting. They can either come to your office/have it via Skype or you can travel to meet them somewhere.

If you travel to meet them, it’ll take you 15 minutes to get ready from home/close down whatever it was you were working from in the office. Then let’s say 30-45 minutes to get there and meet them. You have the meeting for an hour, then another 30-45 minutes back. By the time you get back it’s lunchtime so you’ve basically wasted the morning and into the early afternoon.

Option B goes like this: one minute before the meeting starts, you walk to the meeting room/turn on Skype, and are back at work five minutes after the meeting ends. Multiply that by 20 meetings a month and you’ll see some serious hours lost (or saved).

2. Networking

Brilliant on day one when you’re learning how to pitch and speak about your company to strangers, but pretty soon after this, unless you’re looking to sign up the people you’re networking with to buy/use your product, a complete waste of time.

Randomly wandering around the room hoping to meet a potential customer/get an intro to an investor is an insane use of resources. What happens if you meet someone in a completely unrelated field? You’re probably going to talk to them for 15 minutes out of politeness. You rack up about 12 of these conversations (out of a room of 100 people) then it’s time to go home, even less if someone is giving a talk. A little while back I was at St. James’ Palace helping hype social media for an event with some of the richest and most powerful people in the country. I found out who was attending before and tweeted some of them, but in the hour before the event started there were only so many people I could squeeze in talking to. Even in that dream context, I could do little to affect major results.

There are enough tools out there to reach out to the people you really want to meet (VoilaNorbert to find emails, to see who you have in common to reach out for a warm intro, etc) as well as the epic usefulness of Facebook groups in your area/niche (go find them, they’re incredible). You should be at these networking events, but with one change (see below).

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3. Not doing public speaking before

If you’re at an event, you should be the one speaking. You have everyone’s rapt attention, can show expertise and will get people asking to work with/help you, rather than the other way around.

I can’t stress enough how important this is if you’re selling something, or are a contractor/freelancer/run an agency. Most business will come from referrals, but when you’re starting out, you have no customers to refer you.

4. Not getting out to America soon enough

If you’re not lucky enough to be living in the States, do whatever it takes to get out here.

More investors, customers, customers with bigger budgets, bigger total addressable market, more advanced startup ecosystem. Do I need to say anything else?

I can’t find the exact quote (and apologies if it was someone else) but Y-Combinator’s Paul Graham once said something like: “If you wanted to get into the fashion industry, you wouldn’t say ‘Hey, I’m going to move to the 6th biggest fashion city in America!’ You would move to New York, LA, or maybe Chicago … anything else would be ridiculous.”

5. Not executing fast enough

This is in the “No-one thinks they’re doing it, but most founders do it” category.

Things get discussed in meetings, fear ultimately holds you back, and you stay the course which normally doesn’t work. Particularly if you have investors and a team around you, it often feels like you can’t just rip up the rulebook and head off in a new direction/try new things. You can, of course.

Three experiments a week is a good number to aim for (hat tip to Sean Ellis for this idea). I’ve been using this model to try out three new growth hacking techniques for the last month, and have had some real breakthroughs using this technique.

I’m sure I’ll have another set of time wasting activities in five years, but saving time by not doing the above makes me feel good, until I learn more.

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Want me to help you grow your social media channels/startup/company? Read this

Jan 9, 2016

Some of y’all will know that I help startups acquire users. My company helps funded startups with a clear target market reach out to and capture the attention of people who will love what they’re doing. Our prices start from £1800 a month. Email me here if interested. We’re aware not all early-staged companies can afford that (or maybe you just want to grow your personal brand) so we have created the following packages so that you can increase your visibility quickly for an affordable price. So here we go:

1. Twitter and Instagram: overnight popularity packages

Posting on social media only works when you have an audience to broadcast to.

You could be sending the perfect post at the perfect time, but if you have no-one to see your posts, how would you ever know? Whether you want to grow your personal brand, company, or brand new startup, we’ll find the people on social media who will love what you’re doing, growing your engagement and followers in a matter of days. Your followers will be the types of people you are looking to reach.

New visitors to your social pages will see social proof that you are someone who matters. Any company with less than 500 followers on Twitter tends to look very weak when a competitor has more. Also, on Twitter, we can reach out to all new followers for you, increasing your engagement and clicks to your website or app.


Twitter: One month’s subscription= £1000 ($1,500 USD) per 2,500 followers.

Instagram: One month’s subscription= £1000 (£1,500 USD) per 1,500 followers.

Email us if you have any questions or would like to order.

2. Startup “Starter pack”

If you’re new to launching a startup/company, it can be bafflingly confusing to work out what you need to do to get your product a strong foundation to start building traction on. We’ve created a package to give you strong credibility and visibility from day one. A one-time purchase guarantees you:

  • An SEO audit of your company website
  • 20-40 SEO dofollow backlinks from reputable sites including the likes of Digital Trends, Launching Next, and All Top Startups (useful SEO backlinks which will help you rank for terms/get your site seen)
  • Listings on startup directories where early adopters hang out, including Reddit. This will also create SEO backlinks to help you get found via Google.
  • 500 visitors to a piece of your content or to your homepage from our tech-focused influencer network of 175,000 followers
  • 1st 500 Twitter followers on your company Twitter account
  • 1st 500 Instagram followers on your company Instagram account
  • Have your website checked for spelling errors

The Startup Starter pack is £1000 ($1500 USD), for a limited time only.

Email us if you have any questions or would like to order.

3. Full automation of social media channels

Serious about social media but can’t afford to outsource? Learn how to fully automate your Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr management. We can teach you how to organically grow your account faster than you’d believe, with relevant, engaged followers, on multiple platforms. We designed this package as we noticed many entrepreneurs and creative people couldn’t afford our other packages, but saw the value in having a strong following online, making their social media activity worthwhile.

Intensive two-hour training course: £400

Email us if you have any questions or would like to order.

vincent dignan

Grow your company faster using growth hacking- come to my American tour to find out how

Jan 5, 2016

Want explosive growth? It happens every single day to the fastest-growing companies in the world. Let me show you some of the techniques they’ve used, that you can use on your company and/or social media accounts. I’m coming to America for February and March and I’ll be giving my growth hacking talk, which was voted best talk at SXSW V2V 2015 in Las Vegas the last time I was over. You should come! Full dates below. here’s what you’ll learn:

1. An introduction to the “hacker mindset” and how you can use it to quadruple your companies growth
2. A step-by-step on how to rapidly grow your social media communities and get free traffic/users/feedback from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also, how to build a cheap, powerful marketing stack
3. Outlining a perfect pre-launch strategy to gather emails so you have users on day one
4. A brief outline of how to hack PR coverage, and some tactics to quickly boost your SEO
5. An overview of the most up-to-date tactics and software to enable efficient email marketing, sales, and productivity
6. At my “how to be rich and internet famous” talk, you’ll also learn how to master sales and personal branding
Read what other people, who have seen this talk recently, have been saying about it at: Http://





29th Feb – “How to get rich and internet famous” GA Boston GET TICKETS HERE

1st Mar – “Growth hack your Content Marketing Strategy” GA Boston GET TICKETS HERE


3rd Mar – Galvanize – GET TICKETS HERE




7th Mar – Genius Den – GET TICKETS HERE


8th Mar – (Lunch & Learn) – WeWork members only GET TICKETS HERE

8th Mar – Growth Hack Your Content Marketing – GA Chicago GET TICKETS HERE



11th March – Capital Factory, 2pm GET TICKETS HERE

13th March – GA @ AT&T Center (Social Media Workshop) GET TICKETS HERE

Monday 14th March – TBC


Tuesday 15th March – Rocket space GET TICKETS HERE


17th Mar – Growth Hacking – Startup Hall GET TICKETS HERE

VANCOUVER, CANADA – To be announced

TORONTO, CANADA – To be announced

MONTREAL, CANADA – To be announced


Past Dates on this tour:


Mon Feb 1st – Capital Factory – AUSTIN TX. GET TICKETS HERE
Thur 4th Feb – “Growth Hack Your Content Marketing” – AUSTIN TX. GET TICKETS HERE


Monday 8th February – Cross Campus, Santa Monica GET TICKETS HERE

Tuesday 9th February – Cross Campus, Pasadena GET TICKETS HERE

Wednesday 10th UCLA (Email me for location etc)

Thursday 11th February “Growth Hack Your Content Marketing” – Santa Monica GET TICKETS HERE


Monday 15th February – WeWork Transbay GET TICKETS HERE

Wed 17th February “Growth Hack your Content Marketing – GA-SF (225 Bush) GET TICKETS HERE

Thurs 18th February Galvanize “Growth Hack your Content Marketing” (Classroom) GET TICKETS HERE


Mon 22nd Feb – Noble Desktop, 594 Broadway GET TICKETS HERE

Tues 23rd Feb – Techstars NYC, 1407 Broadway GET TICKETS HERE

Wens 24th Feb – Noble Desktop, 594 Broadway GET TICKETS HERE

Thurs 25th Feb – Spark Labs, 833 Broadway GET TICKETS HERE

Run your own company? Burnout is a good thing

Jan 2, 2016

When I give a speech at a corporate event, I often ask those in attendance, ‘Do you know how to tell if you’re doing the job?’ As heads start whispering back and forth, I provide these clue​s​: ‘If you’re up at 3 A.M. every night talking into a tape recorder and writing notes on scraps of paper, have a knot in your stomach and a rash on your skin, are losing sleep and losing touch with your wife and kids, have no appetite or sense of humour, and feel that everything might turn out wrong, then you’re probably doing the job”Bill Walsh


​I’ve been close to or at the point of burnout for the last few weeks putting together the next installation of Secret Sauce Conference while working on my various other projects (like I said in a recent tweet “Good luck to everyone in 2016 not working on their projects over Christmas). Being this close to burning out excites me, as all the major breakthroughs I’ve had in the last couple of years have come when I’m at this point. Some thoughts on burnout:​

Most entrepreneurs never hit the point of burnout. Go to a meetup and observe London’s startup scene getting stuck into the free booze. Would you invest in their company?

Burnout is a rare phenomenon because virtually no-one works hard enough to achieve it. Everyone wants to be the next Steve Jobs, but would you work 90-hour weeks like his time (pretty much) did, eventually getting sweatshirts made to commemorate this feat.

You don’t have time/energy to get drunk if you’re an entrepreneur. You don’t have time/energy to see friends, but you should schedule to see your family once a month.

You can probably have a relationship (if you’re in one already) if they’re very understanding. You probably can’t create a healthy (new) relationship while building a new company/agency. Use Tinder.

Nuance is how you win. I could tell you every growth hacking secret in the world and it wouldn’t matter unless you were committed to tweaking, testing, and understanding why things work, and how you can affect it for your specific purposes.

Likewise, you’ll only discover the “Secret sauce” that makes your company better than everyone else after a LOT of experimenting. Read this.

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When you start to feel burned out, you’re probably very near to a major breakthrough. Part of the reason my talks are so successful is they appear to show how shortcuts can help you win quicker. They do, but you still need to work from the moment you wake up until the moment you go back to sleep (you’ll probably have to take one nap a day also) in order to be successful.

When you’re burned out, you have a voice in your head which will tell you “I just cannot do anymore work.” Now we’re getting somewhere! At this point you’ll examine everything you do to see what can be gotten rid of e.g. low paying clients/unnecessary work/anything else that takes up more time that it should (remember what I said earlier about getting drunk?).

Now you’ll focus on the really important stuff, or you may take a new direction completely. Maybe you’ll do a personal development course, or hire a coach. Only by giving it everything do we realise what we need to do.

Read Next: My content marketing journey 2016, part one: It started as a mistake

Caveat: You need to stay relatively fit (Regular exercises of sit-ups/push-ups/planking do the job for me, while cycling to all meetings in Central London) whilst working every minute of the day or you don’t get the upsides of burnout I’m talking about here (healthy body=healthy mind). Don’t ask me why this is true, it just is.

Burnout is one of the byproducts of investing in yourself. The interest tends to accumulate later than you think, in unexpected and awesome ways.

Caveat #2: You can’t aim to be burned out. It’ll just hit you one day. You can work towards it by giving yourself the best possible chance to be in peak condition to work on your project: Give up caffeine and alcohol. Say no to distractions. Don’t watch entire seasons on Netflix. Eat the same good foods each day so you don’t have food comas/energy slumps. Cutout all distraction (working from home is very under-rated, or an environment with as little distraction as problem (i.e. co-working spaces and coffee shops suck for this reason). Stop having meetings face to face (Skype will do in 99% of cases.) If you’re working near to burnout on your startup, investors will come to you. If you run an agency, do everything on Skype, only leaving your house/office to do public speaking (which you should get good at).

If you put all of the above in place, it will show when you speak to anyone about what you do for a living. It will show in the work you do. People will wonder how you achieve what you have. And the answer is almost always: You were on the verge of burning out for days, weeks, months, but carried on anyway.

The very definition of entrepreneurship is often stated as  “living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t”. Burnout can’t and shouldn’t last forever, but it’s going to get you far nearer to where you want to be. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments 😘

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