In September, we announced that five Zahn Startups (VERIPAD, Gleam, Frip, Komb, and DAPP) would participate in our first-ever Zahn-Google Adopt-a-Startup Program. Over the past few months, these startups have worked with Google mentors to develop content marketing strategies, cost-per-click keyword marketing strategies, KPI dashboards, as well as strong Google Analytics skills. On Friday, December 9th, they presented their new-found strategies in a culminating celebration at Google’s offices in Chelsea.
As always, the Google-adopted startups taught us much more than we expected. As it turns out, each of them not only learned digital marketing strategies, but also learned how to navigate near-crippling challenges. Whether it was a decision undergo a major pivot, or a breakdown of the core team, Zahn startups learned to work through these challenges with the help of Google mentors. Ultimately, their presentations proved that nothing can keep them from pursuing their passions.
Pursuing a life-long passion is the reason Aashna Shah and her team reconsidered what their startup, Gleam, had developed into. She and Revital Schechter led the presentations on Friday with the debut of a new and improved platform, and the reasoning behind their pivot. After conducting market research with the help of Google, they learned that while their platform was performing well with privately practicing therapists, it was not meeting the diverse needs of therapists who cater to patients in the public mental health care system. Since Gleam’s ultimate goal is to make mental health care accessible to all, Shah and her team realized that they needed to focus on their social impact mission, and design their platform around those in the public health care system.
Moustafa Elshaabiny, Co-Founder of Frip, also credits his experience with Google mentors for their platform’s re-design. On Friday, he admitted that their team was so caught up in all of the features they could provide on their platform, they weren’t focusing on what the teachers actually needed. Frip is now cleaner than ever, with a teacher-centric focus. For Elshaabiny, it’s this learning process that makes entrepreneurship so addicting. “Never in my life did I view failure as a good thing. Now, I see the value of failure as the truest learning experience you can receive.”
Kingsley Obi, Founder of Komb, echoed his fellow entrepreneur’s sentiment, admitting that if it weren’t for his mentors, Komb might have fallen completely to the wayside. By the end of the summer, Kingsley’s team had dismantled, and he was left as the sole operator of Komb. “Without my mentors, I don’t know where Komb would be,” said Obi. Now, Komb is a fully functioning platform, gaining traction each day. Obi proudly announced that Komb has facilitated ten transactions since the re-vamp!
While Google mentors helped the Komb platform come to life, they helped Ryan Morabito, Founder of DAPP, with a different kind of problem. By the end of the summer, DAPP was on the Appstore, and it had hundreds of downloads. But then, as Morabito said, “All of a sudden, it didn’t. No one was downloading it anymore.” He pointed to a graph behind him that showed the sharp decline, and as time passed, he grew increasingly nervous that the application his team worked so hard to develop would become obsolete. His mentors helped him work against the clock to better understand his target market so that he could deliver the app into their hands.
Y-Lan Nguyen of VERIPAD also said her experience with Google mentors helped her gain insight into their target markets. VERIPAD, a biotech company tackling the counterfeit drug crisis, will market their product to the developing world. Right now, members of the VERIPAD team are working on the ground in Kenya to understand their customer’s needs.Google helped the US-based VERIPAD team interpret these findings and create a multi-level marketing plan. “The biggest challenge,” Y-Lan recalled, “is reaching all of our ‘customers.’ Our customer is every single person along the pharmaceutical chain, from suppliers to patients. Google helped us define a plan to reach each one.”
Each startup worked closely with two to three Google mentors, especially chosen and paired to match the startup’s specific needs. Those mentors awarded each startup in the Zahn-Google Adopt-a-Startup Program $500 in Google AdWords credit. We’d like to thank Simon Croisetiere, Alex Cuzic,Rachel Ferman, Julianne Gaudio, Stephanie Hofmann, Alex Holz, Jason Leder, Tannis McKenna, Justin Nabozna, Oliver Pare, Jason Rosenblum, Amir Rouzrokh, Michael Sondak, and Jason Stroot.