Published On: Tue, May 13th, 2014

Want Your Startup To Appear in TechCrunch? Lean Marketing Hacks for Startups


Just back from a week of beer, black wardrobes and David Hoselhoff ads- yes, it was Web Week in Berlin. Again and again (after a few drinks, of course) my European friends confided the same perception about Israeli startups: wonderful technologies, horrendous marketing. Danish entrepreneur and Skype funder Morten Lund said it best “any cabdriver in LA is better at marketing (than Israeli founders). Before you reach the restaurant, they have sold you their screenplay and yoga lessons”. Israeli startups interested in more effective “lean marketing”, should learn from Ben Lang , the 20 year old Wunderkind and contributor at TechCrunch, Business Insider and Forbes. Below are five of his favorite Marketing Hacks.

Guest Posting

Proactively approach top tech publications with a finished article and a concise, one sentence email pitch.

pitch letter to TechCrunch

Short pitch letter to the TechCrunch Editor that resulted in a Guest Pos

Email Your Targets Using Rapportive

Email is still a great way to reach potential targets. If you don’t have the address of the person you are trying to reach, install Rapportive , a browser plugin for Gmail.



Voting Websites

Many tech publications determine feature placement through community voting. In fact, the #1 spot at voting sites like Hacker News , Reddit , StumbleUpon , GrowthHackers or Product io typically yield an additional 20, 000-50, 000 visitors in one day.


Some “Upvote” tactics:

Ask a few friends to vote for your post. This creates momentum for the algorithm to identify your post as “trending”. Be careful that your friends use an email address that is not your corporate URL, or the votes will not be recognized.


Long Term Traffic

Wikipedia and Quora are efficient tools for long-term traffic, provided the message is on-topic. Use to measure traffic. The contribution is gradual. If just twenty people visit your site each day, that still represents 7300 annual visitors.


Viral Projects

Some brands understand the value of building a viral project, unrelated to their core offering, with broad appeal. Below are two examples in which a very subtle promotion reaped broad exposure and wide coverage.

Ooomf (1)

Oomf  created a tool called “How Much To Make An App”, with a subtle link to the company at the bottom of the page



Flickr was able to increase awareness and media coverage for its recruiting efforts


Make it Fun

Even commoditized products, such as storage, can use games and fun in their branding activities. Check out this example from Box.

great space race (1)

Box transformed a marketing campaign for an undifferentiated product (storage) into a worldwide competition among universities

For additional marketing hacks, try reading these blogs:









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About the Author

- Levi Shapiro is a Partner in the JIMMI Fund (, working with global tech companies to invest in Israeli start-ups. Concurrently, Mr. Shapiro provides strategic advisory to global technology, media and telecom companies as a Senior Partner at TMT Strategic Advisors. Mr. Shapiro is also an Adjunct Professor in the Media Innovation Lab ( at IDC Herzliya, teaching Digital Media Entrepreneurship, Mobile Marketing and other entrepreneurial courses. He is also the organizer of the Transitioned Media ( mHealth Israel (www.mhealthisrael) and MATI- Marketing & Ad:Tech Israel ( conferences. Mr. Shapiro’s “Unleavened Media” column (, about technology and digital media, appears in the Jerusalem Post and is syndicated across other publications. His education includes Tulane (History), Cornell (Asian Studies) and MIT (MBA).

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