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How Derek Andersen Grew Startup Grind From No Show to 200 Cities


In the beginning, no one came. This was kind of frustrating.

Derek Andersen

Derek Andersen founded Startup Grind — which means, if you’re a hustler, entrepreneur or founder, you’ve probably been to one of his events. Startup Grind is in 200 cities in over 60 countries around the world.

But when he was getting started, a little over 6 years ago, it wasn’t easy. How do you convince people to come to your event? For Derek it took nine months till he could put on an event where only four people showed up. Yah, seriously, four.

So, what tools did he use to grow and become one of the largest networks of startup meet ups in the world?

So, look, we started using Meetup. We started using other customer acquisition tools. We started using Eventbrite. We started reaching out and making partnerships and inviting people to come.

There were things like Startup Digest had this really, really great newsletter at the time.

Month after month with a little growth here and cold email there, things started turning around.

I’ll show up for an hour and then I’m going to leave. — Jason Calacanis

Then things really started rolling.

He came and the room was packed and the interview was good. It’s still online. It wasn’t good, but for the time it was good. So, we said, “Wow, that worked. Let’s do that again. So, the next month we had Naval Ravikant.

They called these interviews “fireside chats.” (Side note: want more awesome fireside chats? Check this out there’s a whole damn conference devoted to them…. yeah, real fireside chats.)

Back to business.

Derek uses Pipedrive to manage leads.

We use it for figuring out who’s going to run our chapters. So, with the 200 chapters around the world, we’ve probably had 3,000 people apply to start a chapter for the last four years. And then of that, we’ve accepted maybe 250 or something and then 50 have probably changed over.

What’s the key to a cold call email? I’ve heard this tip before and it’s really killer,

When they respond, I am right there to respond within 30 seconds of it

This tip is key if you’re cold emailing someone. When they respond, the quicker you can get back to them, the more likely for a follow up response. Key: Don’t let your response linger!

And don’t forget, everyone is selfish. If you’re cold emailing, they wanna know, what’s in it for them? This is Derek’s advice too,

What’s in it for a speaker is you get to talk about your brand. You get to talk about your company. Just show up and talk and we’ll film it and blast it out.

Another great tip Derek discovered after cold emailing Paul Graham,

I emailed him in between Christmas and New Year’s, which is a great time to email important people for some reason.

Paul Graham, Y Combinator

Paul Graham, Y Combinator

And persistence is key here too. Just take a look at his back and forth with Paul Graham… well it may not have worked, but the persistence is respectable,

 I emailed him and he responded and he said–this was like Christmas 2011. He said, “I’m really tempted to do it. Email me in the fall. No problem.”

Derek Andersen: “Paul, look at the thread below. You said email you in the fall. Here I am. Here’s everything we’ve done since then. Will you speak?”

Paul Graham: “No, I won’t speak. I’m really busy. I’m going to be busy for the next few years.”

Derek Andersen: No problem. I’ll hit you up.” Fast forward two years later, 2014, fall. “Paul, you told me to email you in a couple years. Here I am. Will you speak?” No. He won’t. So, he still hasn’t spoken.

Want more tips, workflows, processes and best practices from Derek Andersen? Check out this in-depth interview.

SEPT 9, 10, 11, 2016