How (and why) these startups are hitting the streets to find users - Technical.ly Philly

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Dec. 23, 2014 10:29 am

How (and why) these startups are hitting the streets to find users

Offline marketing FTW?
Ad overload?

Ad overload?

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

The only marketing WeHUB Messenger has done has been right on Penn’s campus.

The team behind the mobile app, which aims to be your go-to messaging tool, has plastered Penn’s Locust Walk with fliers. They hosted free drink nights for power users at Penn haunt Smokey Joe’s. They ran a treasure hunt for students that they say was wildly successful.

So has this decidedly low-tech approach been effective?

Though founder Hagen Lee said the app has 20,000 users, predominantly in the U.S. and South Korea, where the company’s dev team works, he didn’t have a definitive answer on whether the ground-level marketing had worked. That marketing style, he said, is in his bones.

“My motto is ‘Mileage makes a champion,'” Lee said, adding that the Germantown bedroom he rents with his cofounder, Robbie Stone, is covered in WeHUB T-shirts and fliers.

“The ground game is just as important, I feel,” he said.

According to him, it’s all part of building a brand “bottom up first.”

He’s not the only Philly startup that’s hitting the streets to acquire users. (It’s also worth noting that the rise in offline marketing also coincides with the rise of local consumer-facing startups.)

This guy was passing out Postmates fliers on Locust Walk last fall. (Photo by Juliana Reyes)

Here’s who’s also pounding the pavement:

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For goPuff, which targets college students, the bus ads have had an “unbelievable impact,” said cofounder Rafael Ilishayev.

The team was inspired to buy ads by cofounder Yakir Gola’s father: he’s Joe the Jeweler (“Cash for Gold”) of many a SEPTA ad. Those ads have worked for him, Ilishayev said.

Ilishayev wouldn’t disclose how much they spent on ads but said that it’s “a lot less than what you would think.”

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

As for Pico, the team said their on-the-street strategy was about getting feedback. They dressed up on Halloween, gave out candy on Drexel’s campus and tried to get people to download the app on the spot. They also hit University of the Arts.

“We really believe in guerrilla marketing,” Mozer wrote in an email. “It’s very important to feel the crowd, even before you have a product live and by that save valuable time, and save some mistakes.”

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