Constructing Your Company Like FunNow, Lalamove, and SCMP – More about Team Building, Infrastructure Building, and Branding Building

January 31, 2019

In Dec 2018, Growth Marketer Academy has organised the 1st growth marketing conference in HK at Tencent Westart. It gathered speakers from eBay, KKDay, SCMP, FoodPanda, Lalamove, MoneySmart etc. to share their growth tactics & experience with 150+ marketers & founders from startups & corporates. The attendees not only gained insights about growth marketing by sitting in front of the screen, but also had chances to interact with the 8 growth experts after their sharing. Growth Marketing Academy has summarised their valuable insights into 3 articles for your reference. Want to get hands dirty and learn actionable growth tactics? Come get more details of our intensive boot camp!

No resources for early-stage startup! What the Fun?

In case you have no idea what FunNow is, FunNow is a Taiwan-based startup that provides a platform for locals to search for excitement nearby their location. It is backed up by Alibaba Entrepreneur Fund and with presence in cities including Hong Kong, Okinawa, Taipei, and more ASEAN cities very soon. Erika Chiang, their Marketing Director, as a specialist in product launch and overseas expansion, has shared her philosophy in city launches for startups with limited resources, though keep moaning that “no data, no money, and no reputation are their most ticklish problem.”

“Skeleton” of FunNow? Why not talk about its “Soul” First?

Talking about the how FunNow build its team in its city launch, Erika had placed really heavy emphasis on the nature of FunNow’s business and therefore its core value, i.e. its soul. As an O2O, on-demand entertainment platform, what FunNow provides is actually one-stop services starting from entertainment searching to booking. Example? Let say you are doing shopping in Hong Kong’s Langham Place, you want to have a massage right after wrestling with famous brand and luxuries. FunNow is just the kind of app that would show the available options that are nearby you, with information such as price, comments, and vacancies shown. With it, you can secure your booking just with a few taps on your phone.

“Business Development First, and then Operations. Growth Hacker……maybe later?”

Therefore, to FunNow, setting a high standard for its merchant is definitely of utmost importance. ‘Business Development Head would be what we need most when it comes to our team building. We had, made a very big mistake before, which taught me a big lesson. We used to hire a bunch of interns for business development, but it turns out that the interns are not familiar with FunNow’s core values.’ said Erika. ‘They have dealt with many merchants that are not quality enough. It really compromised our reputation, as usually merchants dealt by interns are not well-educated about our values and how we work, which constitute to a high failure rate.” The second priority for team member would be operation specialist. So far, according to our experience, 70% of our transaction was made before 3 hours of the events, given the nature of our app. What we desperately need is actually operations specialist who can efficiently handle customers’ booking and liaise with the merchants.

Partnerships would also be very important for FunNow. So roles such as marketing and growth hacker would also be important to them, but definitely not as important as the 2 former roles.

What Mistakes that FunNow has Made

Apart from the mistakes to be rely on inexperienced interns, another mistake that FunNow has made is that they do not understand their target audience enough. During their expansion to Hong Kong, FunNow has thought of the possibility to utilise their member base of Taiwanese – making FunNow itself to become a HK entertainment guide to taiwanese travellers. It turned out that the active user in Hong Kong is exceptionally low. Erika subsequently realised that FunNow’s target audience should be the locals instead of travellers. Lesson learnt from the incident – never forget what you and your brand are.

Branding of SCMP – Branding is simply a promise

SCMP’s Growth Lead, Xianhang Zhang also talked about the importance of positioning to a company’s branding. According to his idea Reverse Brand Promise, to establish a good branding, a company should always ‘flip all of their Brand Promises on customers’ heads’, i.e. to tell them what they can do and honestly tell them what they are definitely not.

Xianhang raises an example of the hiring of SCMP’s growth team. If SCMP polishes a fancy job ad by saying that the job is not demanding, offers attractive remuneration, and possesses all good quality of a job. Probably it will attract quite a lot of green job applicants in a short period of time. But to Xianhang, branding is after all a promise made by a company to its customers – in this case it would be one between employers and employees. If the employee agrees to work for the company and finds out that the reality is not what the company has promised. They would be let down and not trusting the company anymore, right?

The same theory applies to branding of a company. So to build a sustainable company with good branding: Select a suitable niche for your company and then excel, be honest and adhere to what your company is, fulfill promise to your customers. That’s how a good branding be established. Xianhang’s Reverse Brand Promise seems somewhat applicable to FunNow’s previous ambition to expanding their business from targeting locals to travellers. It turns out that FunNow is on the right track of a good branding at the moment.

Case of Mature Startups – Lalamove – How Do They Tackle Their Problems?

Founded in late 2013, Lalamove may be a name that is more well-known to us. Offering intra-city delivery service in more than 90 cities across Asia, the challenges that they were facing would be definitely different when compared to those with younger startups like FunNow. Jahanzaib Saeed, Lalamove’s Regional User Acquisition Manager, shared with us what are the struggles that Lalamove had been dealing with, and of course, how they tackled these problems by excelling their team and technological infrastructure.

Objective-based Team Over Function-based Team

How is their current team structure different from their old one, why is it better? Lalamove used to have a traditional marketing structure, with teams targeting users and drivers respectively. The problems that arose from the previous structure were the technology and products that were not aligned with marketing. Clients request new features, such as a new payment system, hence technology and products were feature-driven. However, marketing is focused on the business developing function, leading to the teams engineered towards different goals.

The new structure eradicates these problems by implementing squad and chapter leaders who manage their teams. The squad leader manages a squad, a multidimensional team which contains the product and marketing leads, and their goal is to reach a single function-based objective, which is set quarterly. The chapter leaders improve the functional expertise of the marketing leaders and technology leaders, making sure marketing is done properly and well and ensuring that the developers and technology are up to date. They assign technology or product leads to sit with the squads to work on the common goal set for the quarter, and oversee their work, making sure it is up to par.

Excelling Data Pipeline

Three problems were encountered previously, the first being that they were unable to link channels to client IDs and order IDs. A device ID is the client’s phone number and their client ID, and a profile is built for each client. However it was difficult to match marketing channels, for example Facebook or Google, back to the clients. The second problem is that there is no visibility on funnel analysis and user interaction with the product. There was no interactional data on how the client interact with the product, for example what features interest them and how long they are willing to wait for orders. The last problem is that there was no reliable infrastructure for customer data. It was difficult to ensure that the data received was not faulty, for example the mapping of clientele and promotional channels. It was difficult to work on integrations and a centralised database without a large investment into technology and human resources as a lot of product and technology work were involved.

The key to solving the aforementioned problems is building a strong data pipeline. All the data from the data sources (e.g. Google Analytics) is traced back to the warehouse, and written in Python scripts to facilitate reporting. Utilising Segment, an API router, is essential. It allows one to link sources to analytic tools, do API integrations with the click of a button, is fast and allows the company to store entire databases, however it is costly at $100K USD per year. The problem of data authenticity is also tackled as all data undergo a data authenticity test to make sure it is reliable. Hence the pipeline allows enough tracking on the iOS and Android applications to collect data to send to the centralised warehouse as well as linking it to advertisement sources, then sending it off to analytics. It took a lot of time to build, and the tools itself is pricey also because it has to be constantly up to date to facilitate the work in the squads. (MoneySmart also utilises technologies such as DMP as DSP accompanied by good content to achieve terrific goal. Want to know more? Click to see how they do it.)

Building growth teams in startups is a complex issue which usually requires full understanding of the company’s positioning  In FunNow’s case where FunNow’s mission is to launch in a new market. It is imperative for them to hire business development heads for merchant acquisition and operations specialists for daily working of the application. In the case of Lalamove, a more established startup, team structure should still be changing constantly to deliver outcomes in an effective and efficient manner. After all, the reason to build a growth team is not only for boosting revenue and user counts. To grow sustainably and makes good brands, ,as Xianhang said,  companies should be adhere to their core values, keeping good promises to their customers.