What is a Growth Hacker and why does your company need one anyway?

On April 11th 2016, I started an intensive Growth Hacking course along with 12 other students at The Talent Institute in Amsterdam. But wait, what exactly is growth hacking? No, we are not going to be sitting in basements and hacking into your computers. Think of it more as a life-hack, but for growth. Our goal is to help your company grow fast and exponentially without an extensive marketing budget.

The success stories of companies with rapid growth are becoming a norm in the tech industry. Remember when Facebook reached a $50 billion valuation within 8 years? It seemed like a jaw-dropping story… until Uber did the same in 5 years.

Though each company is different and many factors play into their success, growth hacking is usually a common denominator. Growth Hackers use data and creative thinking to come up with ways to not only acquire new users, but also make sure the users convert and remain active.

The course at The Talent Institute is filled with various interactive workshops designed to teach us the skills and tools needed to become a successful growth hacker. We’ll be attending “school” for 1 month followed by a 6 month internship. During the first 3 months of the internship, we’ll be working 4 days a week while going back to school once a week for deep dives and mentor sessions.

At the end of our first week, we had a matching event with 18 different companies hoping to add a Growth Hacker to their team. Whether they are a small startup looking to quickly and exponentially grow their user base, or a more established company looking to retain users, we will be the ones to get the job done.

After hearing each company’s pitch, we began speed dating. Each date was only 4 minutes. Before we had any time to ask why the time was so short, the event organizers advised us to trust the system. Each student and each company were selected based on a strict approval process and we should use this time to find out if there was a personal click. However, because there were more companies than students, this meant that 5 companies would unfortunately not get an intern, so the pressure was on for the companies as well.

Photo by Frido van Driem

After the first couple of awkward dates, it began to feel more natural and both the students and the companies were able to nail their stories down and ask all the relevant questions. It was clear to see when there was an apparent fit (or mismatch), but overall the atmosphere of the event was casual and fun. At the end of the speed dating, both parties had to submit their top 5 choices and The Talent Institute would — to the best of their ability — match each student to a company.

The results were announced right after the weekend and most companies were pleased to be paired with their top choices. Keeping up with the fast pace of the course, each student is currently spending two in-house days at their companies to get to know the business, determine the customer personas, value propositions and business model canvas in order to come up with initial growth plans.

So far it has been an incredible experience and speaking on behalf of all students, I think it’s safe to say that we are looking forward to applying our new Growth Hacking skills to help each of these companies achieve their growth goals.

Companies that have been matched with a Growth Hacking intern

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