Speaking last week at an IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) innovation event at Google’s Singapore offices, Cheryl Goh spoke about how the smartphone-based taxi service used data and growth hacking to drive rapid growth.
“We’re really obsessive about growth," said Goh. "And the reason we’re really obsessive about growth is because as a startup, if you don’t grow, you actually die.”
GrabTaxi started in Malaysia as MyTeksi two years ago in a bid to help solve the problem of "really, really bad taxi rides". The service is now available in six countries and more than 16 cities, including Singapore, Bangkok and Manila. Goh said the smartphone platform processes an average of two bookings every second and is on over 2 million phones across the region.
“Truthfully, we are accidental in discovering growth hacking, and that’s because when we started out we really didn’t have much money.”
The term "growth hacking" has become a buzzword among startups and refers to a marketing technique that uses creativity and data to sell products and gain exposure. Credited with coining the term in a 2010 blog post titled: “Find a growth hacker for your startup”, entrepreneur and angel investor Sean Ellis
defined a growth hacker as “a person whose true north is growth”.
Pointing to some of the "billion dollar brands" that have successfully utilised growth hacking, Goh identified Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. “When you think about these brands, you don’t ask yourself, ‘Who did their marketing? Who’s their agency?’” she said.
With growth hacking, numbers and analytics drive decisions. "At GrabTaxi our growth is not just about marketing, it’s a function of product and use of data,” Goh said.
Sharing one of GrabTaxi’s core principles, Goh said that successful startups would be the ones that shift away from traditional marketing and find creative ways to use their data.
“You shouldn’t spend money on advertising until you achieve product market fit,” she said. “If you are a startup and you start spending money on marketing before you achieve this, you’re wasting money.”