Thursday, January 20, 2011

From a 22-Person Reach to 100,000+ in One Year

In November of 2009, Chris McCann sat down to write an email to inform friends, family, and coworkers about the startup events going on in his community.  Little did he know that this simple chain of emails was about to spur the growth of a new business.
In 2009, McCann’s email chain about entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley reached 22 people.  Approximately one year later, McCann found himself with 100,000+ subscribers in over 50 different cities.  That’s when StartupDigest, an informational newsletter to connect the worldwide startup and tech ecosystems, was born. 

StartupDigest links entrepreneurs with events
going on in their communities.
Reaching over 57 cities and 6 universities around the world, StartupDigest is a beneficial tool to help entrepreneurs get involved in their local startup community through events developed and marketed through its collective force of 60+ curators and entrepreneurial leaders.  One of these curators is Willis Jackson of Kansas City, Missouri. 
“I proactively go out and try to find stuff happening in Kansas City,” says Jackson.  “My goal is to find things that people want to know about in order to encourage a startup community.” 
But how did StartupDigest go from a 22-person email to reaching over 100,000 entrepreneurs worldwide?  Believe it or not, it wasn’t social networking, fancy advertising, or SEO-optimizing techniques.  Instead, StartupDigest used good ol’ word-of-mouth to get their message across.
“People tend to forward StartupDigest or spread it by word-of-mouth,” says Jackson of StartupDigest’s marketing.  “People find value in it and like to share it with others.  It fills the gaps that entrepreneurs had, and that’s why it has taken off.” 
But there’s more to StartupDigest than these informative online newsletters.  In addition, the company has launched StartupDigest Jobs that informs readers about the best startup jobs in the area.  StartupDigest has also developed StartupDigest University in which topics and seminars are uploaded to so that students can learn more about entrepreneurship online.  “These are just other ways to fill the gaps for entrepreneurs,” says Jackson.
Jackson has worked closely with entrepreneurs in the time that he has been with StartupDigest.  And although he is an advocate of the online newsletter, he believes that the most important step in entrepreneurship is not reading, but doing.
“It’s important to know when to stop reading, stop researching, and stop taking advice.  There comes a point when you know you’ve read enough, planned enough, and it’s time to start doing!” he says.
According to Jackson, most cities have developed strong startup communities.  Because of this, he hopes that StartupDigest, in many different versions, will serve as a tool for cities to maintain themselves and to encourage startup communities for years to come.  We hope so too.
Thanks for Thinking Big, StartupDigest!
Written by Allison Way.  Allison is a writer and videographer for Think Big Partners, Kansas City’s mentorship-based business incubator and startup accelerator.  To read more of Allison’s work, check out the Kansas City Entrepreneurship Examiner as well as her articles on Helium, BrooWaha, eZine and Newsvine.


  1. I will be lurking around this post if anyone has any questions for me.

  2. This is a great experience for Mccan. very successful.

  3. "Star doing", this will be a great slogan for my little company. Such achievement by StartupDigest is an inspiration to us all entrepreneurs. Keep doing!

  4. "START DOING" - that's what i was trying to say above. Sorry...

  5. We love getting monthly online info from StartupDigest. They are truly helping to grow and unite the entrepreneurial world. Thanks for your comments!