Vincent Vitale (@Vincentvitale1) is one of the
an iPhone app that helps entrepreneurs connect. Vitale and co-founder Evan Leong developed Fount as a way for entrepreneurs to perform proximity-based searches for other users with specific skill sets, such as graphic design, app development, web development, marketing, growth hacking, blogging, and more.
The app is currently in the feedback and refining stage, but it has already been downloaded by more than 2,000 users. To get to this point, Vitale and Leong had to do a lot of promotion to encourage people to download and try Fount.
We spoke with Vincent Vitale about the challenges and successes he experienced while marketing the app. The transcript below has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Once you had a working app, how did you find users to test it?
We had a couple of different ways, but we knew early on that we wanted to see how people really interacted with the product, so we tried to go to as many events as possible. Because I live in Orange County, California, there’s a lot of entrepreneurial and tech Meetups, so I went to a lot of those with my co-founder Evan.
Basically we worked 9-to-5 jobs, and as soon as our jobs were over, we’d go to these groups for a networking hour, introduce ourselves, and explain how we were creating this app that connects entrepreneurs.
What was your biggest marketing challenge, and how did you overcome it?
When we first launched, it was more about getting feedback because we wanted to make sure the app was what people wanted. Once we had product market fit, the marketing challenge was really finding the hub of people who would be interested in it. It was a lot of just getting the word out that there’s an app that connects entrepreneurs. Startups can find the resources that they need, people can get connected to who they need, and everything is sorted by skillset and proximity.
The initial marketing was about finding the people who understood the app and “got it.” Typically they were part of Slack channels, Meetup groups, Facebook groups, or Reddit. It was about finding out who liked our product and where they were currently going for their information, and then becoming part of that channel of distribution.
What was your experience like going to networking events and connecting with others in the tech startup scene?
As soon as we had our beta version, we went to a big networking event in Orange County called the OC Tech Happy Hour. It’s basically for people who were either entrepreneurial-minded or tech-minded.
It was our very first event, and we pitched the app to a couple of people, including Lee Decker, the group’s founder. I was going around pitching the app and he was literally the third person I talked to. He ended up loving it and said, “I want to share this with everyone in my group.” Lee and I have worked together on several things from there, and he’s introduced me to tons of people.
That all happened because I went to this networking event. It opened up so many doors, not only for Fount, but also for me professionally.
What advice do you have for others trying to market their tech startup?
The main thing I learned is not only do you have to be authentic, but you also have to add value. There were several times I just wanted to pitch, whether on Reddit, Slack, a Facebook group, or in person. I wanted to tell people about my product and have them download it.
But what I’ve learned from two years of doing this is that people will actually do more for you if you can add authentic value to their life. So now before I post to any online communities, I always try to first answer questions and become part of the community before I start posting what I want.
I also learned to ask people at networking events what they’re working on before I pitch my app. People love to hear themselves talk and want to share what they’re working on, so I always start by asking questions before telling them about myself. It sounds really simple, but if you can be authentic about it, that’s where the difference is.
Want more tips on how to market your business through networking? Check out our article Don’t Call it Marketing (Call it Relationship Building).
About Vincent Vitale
Vincent Vitale is a marketing and tech entrepreneur. He has worked with big brands like Fox Sports and Nissan and startups like [email protected] and Devslopes. Vincent also successfully launched a website that amassed over a million hits in its first year. He currently growth hacks and manages marketing for a variety of startups, entrepreneurs, and companies, co-hosts the Talking Ventures podcast, and runs an entrepreneur Meetup in Laguna Beach, California. He recently created the app Fount along with his partner in crime Evan Leong.