How to start a startup without spending a fortune on marketing

How to start a startup without spending a fortune on marketing

I wish there was a universal approach that would guarantee a successful launch and lasting traction. Start-up entrepreneurs want to label their companies as “Apple of X” or “Uber of Y” in an effort to reach these positions much faster.

Although many variables come into play, there are actually several common denominators that entrepreneurs can use as a stepping stone to market success without having to spend a lot of money on marketing.


There are many ways to define an idea when it comes to the area of ​​triggering, but in a nutshell, it’s about identifying a problem that is ripe for disruption and dealing with it. This is what fascinates viewers the most. Facebook, as we all know, was originally developed to connect college students. Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia from Airbnb wanted accommodation to be cheaper and more affordable.

Interestingly, you don’t need a hypertensive use case to succeed. For example, Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra – the founders of Pinterest – simply wanted to create a product that could be used by absolutely anyone, not just technical experts.

In the case of my own startup Walnut, we started with only two founders and MVP. We started researching part of our potential audience to validate our idea, and they liked it. At their request, we enthusiastically placed them on the waiting list.

This is where the element of initial traction comes into play. Even if it is a pre-product, there are people who are excited about the problem you are trying to solve and want to get the word out.

It is at this point that many entrepreneurs can create a number of beautiful digital assets and paid campaigns on Google and Facebook. That’s an absolutely great approach, but my co-founder and I decided to go the other way: build minimal assets and very short, concise pages optimized to gain interest and add more names to the waiting list.


Send the newsletter and participate in many group discussions on networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. From our “seed list” of potential customers, the words expanded rapidly and the waiting list began to grow – still without spending money.

One of my bold steps was to launch despite the fact that it was too early for the product. It turned out that being brave paid off. During one explosive day, our homepage appeared on a popular product list website on its homepage, and we were featured in almost 20 articles in the press. This led to an even longer waiting list of 700 names and three time sheets to extend our initial $ 6 million round.

When you are trying to disrupt the industry, your first run will play an astronomical role in your success. Make a splash.


Of course, there are many companies that do very well without a marketing infrastructure. While possible, it puts much more emphasis on the distinguishing factor of your technology, and in the early stages it becomes a gamble because you count on word of mouth, which will work like a charm.

This approach worked well for Wayfair, which made big profits by cleverly purchasing hundreds of domain names that matched common search queries. Technology companies such as Atlassian and SurveyMonkey have also launched their path to the success they are currently enjoying. All of these companies had very modest beginnings without extensive marketing efforts or triumphant starts.

At the end of the day, it’s quite possible for you to be a huge success in your industry and gain traction without having to spend a lot of money on marketing, but it’s definitely not an easy task. If you ask me, I would say as a beginning entrepreneur, it would be better if you embark on marketing elements at least to a certain extent than not doing it at all.

Cleverly presenting your value offer, creating the product your audience really needs, and outsmarting your future competitors with a strong brand are all ways to succeed in the early days of your startup.

CEO at Walnut and “Tech Marketer to Watch” by Forbes. Startup mentor in the world’s top accelerators.

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