Google Adopt a Start-Up

Google Adopt a Start-Up

Week 1: Kick Off
In early January we were delighted to be accepted onto Google’s Adopt A Start-Up Programme for the coming quarter. As one of 30 start-up participants to be selected from hundreds of entries for the programme it was a great honour for the team and a chance to do battle with some of Ireland’s best start-ups over the next 12 weeks.
With our own lofty ambitions of global domination in the short term commercial real estate market, the programme’s theme of helping start-ups to structure for scale was exactly what we were looking for! Having dabbled and experimented with some of Google’s product suite to date (Adwords, Youtube, Search), our aim was to leverage the skills and the expertise of our Google mentors over the 12 week period to help us understand the product offering and structure better for scale.

Week 1 kicked off on a wet January evening as we stepped foot in Google’s magnificent offices on Barrow Street for the launch event. After nervously and excitedly mingling with the other participants over some lovely coffee and snacks, we got straight into proceedings and heard from both the programme co-ordinator James Allen and VP of Sales Colin Goulding who introduced us to the OKR method of work (Objectives & Key Results – our first taste of Google Acronyms!). Colin explained how the OKR method of work is used by many top firms + professional athletes and challenges people to do great work, reduces ambiguity and increases productivity. Sounds good to POPertee!

Next we heard from Ian Harkin – CEO of Lottie, the winner of last year’s AASU Programme. Ian discussed the challenges his company faced at the beginning of the programme and how the expertise of both his mentors and the implementation of the google suite helped his company to achieve their objectives & some impressive results over the 12 weeks period and beyond. A 64% increase in daily website traffic & an increase in sales conversion from 0.6% to 2% attest to this.

Lastly, we heard a very interesting talk from Helen O’Shea and her own start-up experience with Ding. Her lecture entitled ‘ Survival Tips for Start-Ups’ covered 5 main areas:

  • User First
  • Turnover is vanity, profit is sanity but Cash Is King!
  • Structure for Scale
  • Team
  • Think Big

For any start-up, navigating choppy waters is par for the course, so having the above as your reference point can help steer you to calmer shores.

After the lecture, Lucinda (our founder), myself (Daniel – Operations) and Sara (Commercial Director), met with our Google mentors – Janko & Julien. After a not so brief description of POPertee, our challenges & plans for the future, we discussed what one of our main aims of the programme would be: To future proof the use + spend on Google’s advertising products (Adwords + Youtube) to increase brand awareness + sales. We delved a little deeper into each of our customer segments and put a plan in place for our next meeting where we would decide upon our objectives and key results for the 12 week programme.

Week 2: Learning the Ropes
With the POPertee Team still trying to get our head around what exactly an OKR is, Julien cleared up any confusion & put it in as plain of English as any half French/ half Belfast man can!:
Objectives are what you want to accomplish
Key Results are how you will accomplish these objectives

On Monday we had an in-house team meeting to discuss Moonshot Ideas + OKR’s all whilst trying to deal with the not so sticky matter of the enquiry form on our website being down!The OKR methodology helped us as a team to identify who our five main customer segments are & how we could use Google’s product suite to identify our high value customer & build POPertee brand awareness for this cohort.

On Wednesday we met with our Google mentors to discuss our challenges & agree upon our OKR’s for the project. The guys were great in helping us step back and have a real think about what are our main issues + challenges are & potential solutions for these. By doing so we were able to identify 3 main areas of improvement: Product, Brand, Lead Generation + Lead Value.

On Friday myself and Johhny, our head of Marketing, attended the first of the Google Lecture Series where we got the chance to learn about SEO/Search Quality & Google Analytics. The first lecture was a fascinating insight into the modern world of search, where people now spend 177 minutes on average per day on their mobile phones. The key takeaway was, in the same vein as Google itself – to always think about the user! It really is as simple as putting yourself in the shoes of your customer, providing them with as much value as possible and an easy, intuitive user experience. Sounds simple!

In the second lecture we learned all about the power of Google Analytics. Johnny, a recent MSc Marketing Graduate from Smurfit, found this lecture of particular relevance given the great work he has done to date on POPertee’s website analytics. We heard about Dave McClure’s Start-Up Metric for Pirates (a fascinating set of lec slides freely available to download), and learned about conversion optimization + experiments, and how to avoid the common pitfall of Vanity Metrics!!

After the lecture series, myself and Johnny met up with Janko & Julien and got our first taste of the coveted Google cafeteria. We swapped the traditional start-up home-made ham sambo’s for a wholesome Chicken Caesar Salad. After lunch, we got down to business with the guys updating them on what was discussed in the team meeting on Monday around customer segmentation. From the discussion we were able to ascertain our two main issues:
Generating more leads + ascertaining the quality of these leads at an early stage in the process.
A couple of coffees and brainstorming session later, we walked away with some key takeaways on how POPertee can leverage the Google Product Suite to hit our weekly targets.

Week 3:You gotta roll with the punches!
Week 3 was an incredibly busy week for the team here at POPertee as some major projects and developments meant that it was all hands on deck. As such, we did not have the time nor resources to meet with the Google Team nor dedicate as much time as we would’ve liked to the programme this week. Such is the story of start-up’s, where every morning brings a fresh set of challenges & opportunities! These unknowns bring on a range of emotions, but the thrill of navigating your way through this minefield is too addictive – you’ve just got to learn to roll with the punches!

Week 4:Focus
Week 4 saw some pretty big changes here at POPertee as we hired a photographer/videographer by the name of Carlos from the lovely city of Barcelona, & Lucinda jetted off to New York to meet potential POPertee investors and check out Kylie Jenner’s latest Pop-Up Shop!

On Friday myself, Carlos & Johnny headed off to Google HQ for our latest installment of the Google lecture series. After chatting to the founders of some other great start-ups (Daire from A5 Technologies & Ciaran from One Touch Telicare) we kicked off the first of the day’s lectures which was all about Google Adwords. We learned about the importance of Quality Score, the Display Network and advertising on the second largest search engine in the world – Youtube.
Next, Colin Goudling from the first week’s lecture series was back for the second lecture of the day to explain all about how the OKR process works. Simple tasks like asking each team member to write down what they believe are the companies goals for the next 3 months as well as their own goals for this period, helps to put clarity & alignment on what it is the company is setting to achieve. The OKR process seeks to answer two very simple yet important questions at both company wide and individual level

  • Where do I want to go?
  • How do I check myself to ensure that I get there?

After the lecture myself, Johnny & Carlos met with both Janko & Julien to run through this week’s target’s and set-up next week’s. After an open discussion about the company’s current state of play and stretched resources, the guys helped us to identify how we can deploy our resources more effectively to ensure we hit our targets. With our OKR’s now clearly decided upon & an action plan in place to achieve these, the hard work begins!!

Week 5:Taking Shape
After 4 weeks of the programme, our OKR’s are beginning to take shape and both our Google mentors’ and POPertee’s own team members understanding of the business is now a lot sharper. Janko brought our ‘Moonshot’ crashing back down to earth, helping us realize the importance of identifying and serving our high value leads at this stage of the game – a much needed dose of reality for the POPerteam!
Monday morning saw the return of Lucinda from her week long trip to NYC! VC’s and investors aside, all the team really wanted to see was Lucinda’s footage of Kylie Jenner’s Pop-Up Shop! Carlos worked miracles with Lucinda’s dodgy iphone coverage, and we had our first pop-up video on our brand new Youtube channel!

There was no time for romantics on Valentines Day as Lucinda was in attendance at the Enterprise Ireland Going for Growth Initiative. The programme is designed to support women who are serious about growing their business and is funded by both EI & KPMG.

Great craic was had in the office on Wednesday morning as our Google Mentors were kind enough to source a 360 camera for Carlos. As you can see from the footage we got a bit of practice in the POPertee office!

Having set the company wide OKR’s for the 12 weeks, it was time to sit down as a team and discuss our own individual OKR’s for the project. From Youtube advertising to Instagram stories and everything in between, myself, Johnny and Carlos discussed how our own roles can have a major influence on the company wide objectives. With these agreed upon, a project plan was also put in place for next week’s eagerly anticipated British Embassy Pop-Up in Arnott’s Dept Store.

In the later half of the week myself and Carlos took to the streets of Dublin at the crack of dawn to get some 360 footage of our prime retail spaces!

We also finally got the chance to send out our newly formatted Newsletter. Open Rates & CTR’s showed a huge increase on previous offerings!

On Friday we had the final meeting with the 4 DIT Final Year Students who, for the past 6 months have been of great assistance with our Marketing Strategy. Taking us through the results of their Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising campaigns, the team had some fantastic insights, analysis and advice for the POPertee marketing team going forward. Big thanks to Stuart, David and all the team.

This week has been the first week that the team have managed to beat the AASU weekly targets/key results. We are delighted with the progress we have made to date, and a big thanks to both Janko & Julien for their help and guidance thus far.

We rounded off this week with our now weekly twitter shout out to perennial pop-up maestros ‘The 1975’! Lads, give the Irish fans what they want and let’s make this happen!