Michael Cheng founder of Snipl.y

Michael is a serial entrepreneur who founded over 10 businesses and organizations throughout his career. He is the founder of Sniply, WittyCookie, Beta Collective, Covr.fm, Needle HR, QC Productions, TEDxSFU, Dinstinct Marketing, Rush Entertainment, and several other ventures across various sectors.

Michael has been featured on Maclean’s Magazine as one of Canada’s Future Leaders, on BCBusiness Magazine as one of Top 30 Under 30, and on 24 Hours as one of Top 24 Under 24. He also earned the title of SFU Entrepreneur of the Year and received awards including the Next 36 Satchu Prize, Coast Capital Venture Prize, and Surrey Business Excellence Award.

As a thought leader in entrepreneurship, Michael has been a keynote speaker for organizations such as the United Nations Association of Canada and the Thiel Fellowship. He is also a judge of the Enactus Student Entrepreneur National Competition and the SFU Entrepreneur of the Year Competition.

To you what is a Growth Hacker?

To me, a growth hacker is someone who can grow an organization through creativity and innovation on a shoestring budget. Anyone can grow a company with a billion dollar budget, but can you do it with little to no resources? This is where the creativity comes in.

Why do you Growth Hack?

Growth hacking is a necessity for startups. If you raise a hundred million dollars from venture capitalists then sure, you probably have no need for growth hacking. However, if you’re like most startups, you’ll need to bootstrap growth.

Are you currently Growth Hacking a company, project, app, or startup? If so give us a description and provide a link if you can.

I’m currently working on Sniply (http://snip.ly), which is actually in and of itself a growth hacking tool. It’s a tool that allows you to attach your own call-to-action onto the links you normally share. The whole concept of Sniply is around driving conversions through content curation. By leveraging third party content, our users can grow through content marketing without the need to invest in producing original content.

Describe your typical day, what it looks like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day involves a lot of user interaction. I handle all product demos and customer support. Through my work, I get a ton of feedback, suggestions, and ideas every single day from our users. I then translate these thoughts into a product vision and work with our engineers to turn this into a feature roadmap.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a Growth Hacker?

For better or for worse, I don’t actually do a lot of reading on growth hacking. I believe that if you simply go around copying other people’s growth hacking strategies, then you’re taking the innovation part out of the equation. I do a lot of experimentation and try to constantly come up with new strategies for growth.

What recent trend, marketing strategy, technique excites you the most right now?

The biggest trend I see is content sharing. A few years ago we reached the age of content production. Every company was told they needed a blog, and so they hired writers and started producing content. It was the golden age of content marketing. Now we have a very different problem: information overload. There’s way too many articles to read them all. Today, we depend on influencers and curators to point us towards the right direction. Instead of subscribing to specific blogs and publications, we follow influencers and go wherever they send us. Content curation has become key in the evolution of content marketing.

As an individual, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do? (This could be lifestyle habit, productivity, or some secret ninja tea made from a flower found only at the top of a mountain.)

Always talk to users—as many as possible and as often as possible. Remember that they’re the ones you’re building the product for. Your startup is a solution to their problems, and you must strive to constantly understand their problems to solve them. Their problems are always changing and your solution must too.

What is one Growth Hacking strategy that has helped you grow your most important metrics? Please explain how.

We go above and beyond to support bloggers who write about marketing tools. Encouraging our users to write about Sniply has been one of our most powerful content marketing strategies. We provide them with discounts and coupon codes to include in their posts so they can then in turn provide more value to their readers. We ensure that they understand the ins and outs of Sniply well enough to feel confident and comfortable to write about our tool. We always do our best to make the product experience a worthwhile experience for users to write about.

What is one pain point you have in the digital space that you wish someone could fix?

We are flying drones to Pluto and our cars are driving themselves, but for some reason I still can’t get a video call going without getting dropped at least once per session.

What is one Growth Hacking secret that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

It’s unfortunate, but the number one growth hacking secret is that there are no secrets. Growth hacking is all about experimentation. What works for one company may never work for yours. Creativity and innovation is at the core of the concept and there are no shortcuts to worthwhile discoveries.

What are 3 of your favorite marketing software, technology, or tools?

Since I’m heavily involved in user relations, I love Intercom. Zendesk is also great for managing support requests. My third choice would be Sniply—biased I know, but it does make my life much easier as it guarantees an ROI for our social media efforts.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I don’t have a particular book to recommend, but I strongly suggest reading something that has nothing to do with your industry. Innovation exists at the intersection of different fields of knowledge. For example, you may find inspirations on how to grow your SaaS startup by observing how bees grow their honeycombs. Who knows! I believe diversity of knowledge is key to creativity.

What inspires and motivates you on a personal level to be successful?

I personally believe that it is the best feeling in the world to provide value. Startups are essentially solutions to problems, and with your product, you can make someone’s life a little bit better. Innovation is what drives the world forward and for me, building products is like contributing to the building blocks of our future. I’m not pumping out the cure for cancer, but I believe every bit counts.

What people, or companies should up and coming Growth Hackers seek out and learn from? (include websites, blogs or Twitter profiles)

Content curation is a big part of our social media strategies, so keep an eye out on our Twitter channel since we’re always sending out great marketing resources on a daily basis http://twitter.com/sniply

How can people connect with you? (Website Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, ext.)

Connect with my personally on Twitter @michaelhsc or my company @sniply. We can also be found on Facebook at http://fb.com/sniplyapp

Where are you located? City + state (if in U.S.) or city + country (if not in the U.S.)

I was born in Hong Kong, but grew up in Vancouver. We launched Sniply in Toronto, but now we’re building it in the heart of Berlin.

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