How I hacked my social data to get press coverage and $750K in funding

<TLDR> Using a tedious technique, I took advantage of my social data to get funding and press coverage for my start-up. Now I’ve launched a product that makes it easier and faster for entrepreneurs to use their social data and do the same to grow their business.</TLDR>

Most entrepreneurs have the “Aha! moment”, when their product idea occurs to them and suddenly everything makes sense. Mine happened when I was at Salesforce building Chatter. I knew I needed to leave Salesforce to realize the vision, but I still needed to find investors to back the product, talented people to join my team and build it, and of course press coverage to tell the world about it.

As I had worked in Tech for many years, I knew I could find people to help me in my network.

The Manual Way

I started by visiting LinkedIn, the largest repository of professional data on the web. LinkedIn is great at helping you find almost anyone. But once you find your persons of interest, you still have to get their attention. I knew cold direct emails would at best get ignored, or worse be perceived as intrusive or random. I needed introductions, the warmer the better.

This is where the hack comes in. After finding who I wanted to talk to via LinkedIn by searching for job titles and locations, I jumped to Facebook, the largest repository of relationships on the web, to see if we had mutual friends. Not only does Facebook have more connections, but it could also help me identify which of our common friends might get me the warmest introductions.

Like most entrepreneurs, I wanted my company, Discoverly, to be covered by tech news websites. PandoDaily is a favorite, because their writing is smart and they’re willing to throw heat. So I looked for PandoDaily on LinkedIn and found Sarah Lacy, the creator of Pando. Her LinkedIn profile showed that we had 2 mutual connections. Not convinced those were the warmest possible intros, I jumped over to Facebook and found her profile: We had 5 mutual Facebook friends – all different from the LinkedIn connections. One was my friend and advisor, Jeff Ma of TenXer. I pinged Jeff who kindly made the introduction. A week later, I had an interview with Sarah.

In fact, every investor, teammate, and journalist involved with Discoverly came in through a friend.  By hacking my social data, I was able to raise $750K, recruit a great founding team, and get coverage from VentureBeat, TechCrunch, PandoDaily, and Entrepreneur.com.

The Discoverly Way

Jumping between Facebook and LinkedIn to find the right connections is tedious and painful since the two networks don’t integrate with each other. The good news is that we built a tool that makes it easy to do cross-platform social networking without having to jump between sites. It does two simple but very useful things: 1) On LinkedIn profiles, it shows your mutual Facebook friends and 2) On Facebook profiles, it shows LinkedIn work info.

DiscoverlyScreenShot1DiscoverlyScreenShot2

Discoverly is free for anyone wanting to grow their business. Simply install the Chrome tool and then browse your social networks as usual: you’ll see a little icon next to a profile’s name. Hover over the icon and get instant access to the information you need. Put your social data to work and start realizing the value of your network.

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