How to Get a Global Company to Contact Your Startup?

Last week Haystack announced that it signed a global deal with Vodafone, one of the largest mobile carrier companies in the world, to deploy our digital business cards to their entire global workforce. A great win for a startup comprising of 8 people, trying to disrupt a business habit formed over the past 200 years.

If you’re an Entrepreneur, or maybe thinking of leaving your corporate day job and start your own gig, I’d like to share with you our approach to engaging with large enterprise clients - we get them to contact us.

Getting your customers to contact you, instead of you reaching out to them is called a ‘market pull’ strategy. Market Pull strategy is used by many companies in many industries. For example, retail shops on a busy street are using the Market Pull approach - you may think it was your decision to walk through the retail door (as a customer). But in fact, the store has chosen you as a customer well before you walked in. The store’s branding, front window and street presence have all been designed to attract a specific target audience - you. Once you walk in, they would normally play music specifically designed for their target market, to make them feel welcome and comfortable, so they don’t rush straight out again.

You can read many blogs and books about how to pull a ‘market pull’ strategy. But here is how we’ve done it:

  • Servicing a real and emerging need;
  • A differentiated product offering; And
  • Give before you take.

Servicing a real and emerging need

Before we started out Haystack, we’ve worked on a small hobby project. We’ve built an app for our own use, and all of a sudden, the app got downloaded 20,000 times! We didn’t know why all these people downloaded the app - so we went and asked them (literally - we went to meet some of them 1-on-1). The results pointed to the following trends:

  • Business cards are transitioning from a ‘status symbol’ to a ‘chore’
  • We (people) started to leave our wallets behind in many situations, relying on our phones instead
  • The corporate workspaces are changing - gone are the days of the corner office, and designated cubicles. New offices offer flexibility where each morning you can ‘sign-in’ to a different desk environment (this is called ‘hot desking’) or work from home

If you change desks every day, it is inefficient to rely on too much paper as you need to pack it into your locker/bag every evening, and unpack it again each morning - you must find digital solutions that travel with you for each pile of paper lying on your desk - one of these piles of paper is the pile of the old paper cards you’ve collected.

Large companies are looking for digital solutions to assist their employees be more dynamic and mobile, while the individuals themselves are going to ditch their wallets. Now that’s something we could work with.

A differentiated product offering

We did not invent the wheel. When we’ve done our research, we found more than 100 different solutions which have tried digitizing business cards before us and failed. Some have been by startup teams, while others have been tried and funded by large companies (including Google and LinkdedIn).

They all had their own great features, and also their limitations. But essentially, they all asked the user for a trade-off. The user had to choose between solutions that:

  • Had a really clever digital card with a ‘sexy’ way of sharing/exchanging it with other people - but you could only share your card with other people who had the exact same app installed on their phone (which meant that almost each time you wanted to use it - you couldn’t); Or
  • Solutions which relied on the old Vcard standard, which meant that you could share it with most people (not with everyone), but the Vcard lacked any design, no images or videos, and no social media links - so really, not much improvement over the paper card it tried to replace

When we set out to design Haystack, we decided to focus on three key product design pillars:

  • On brand - The digital card needs to look great, and include the ability to add all the modern marketing channels including images, video, and social media
  • Shareable - People who create a digital card should have the ability to share their card with absolutely anyone - no excuses
  • Smart - since these contact details end up ‘synced’ to our phones and contact lists, we had to make sure these digital cards can update themselves automatically over time We’re still the only service in the world that delivers on all three pillars.

Give before you take

Our ‘Freemium’ model allows us to give a perfectly adequate free product which is used by many people around the world, while the paid ‘business’ tier provides additional functionality for interested businesses. The concept of ‘give before you take’ is a powerful one, which can be executed in many forms to fit your individual circumstances.

Tell us: What was your approach to attracting enterprise clients?

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