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How I became my own CMO

Introduce yourself and B2B Pay

In 1998 I was running my own web server, at home on a broadband internet connection from my University. A Linux box with Apache, running some homemade websites. I've always considered myself a techie, a geek. On a RTW trip a decade ago I met Neil Ambikar. We stayed in touch over the years - and then Summer 2015 we decided to start a fintech business.

With B2B Pay we provide virtual bank accounts in Europe, with an individual IBAN number, to companies that export to Europe, coupled with a one percent fee for currency conversion and transfer.

What you were doing before starting to be a CMO

In 2008 I had a brief stint with the biggest Dutch social network ever and there it became totally clear to me that a full-time office job working for others is not an option for me. I'm not capable of sitting at a desk from nine to five, working for someone else. I spent too many years of freedom, both at universities, scientific institutes and simply on the road. So I started working as a freelance web developer. My family was my first client. Together with my brother I managed to create year on year 50% growth for our family's furniture business, to the point where my brother decided to keep not make it any bigger. Most of this growth was based on search engine optimization.

What happened that made you need a CMO

I've been actively involved in my own and other founders' startups for a long time now. Always in web developer roles, up to CTO. Only when B2B Pay started looking like it could one day be huge I realized my obsession with growth and finding ways to hack it meant that I'm now more CMO than CTO.

Why did you decide to be the CMO rather than hire one

With B2B Pay it didn't even occur to me to hire a CMO. I believe people should do what they enjoy most. I do enjoy coding now and then, especially Python, but I prefer to spend time looking at graphs, figuring out what's the most efficient way to make the numbers go up. Really, I'd rather hire a CTO at this point.

How you divide your time of being a CMO and CTO

For an early stage lean startup traction is everything. Getting to a point where you prove that you business model works is much more a matter of marketing, and sales than of building a sophisticated product.

What your initial marketing goals were as a CMO

I set my first goal as a CMO at the start of the first Nordea accelerator in Helsinki (2016 program application deadline August 7th). Before the end of the three month program: One sign up on our website coming in through SEO and one through social media marketing. That first conversion is the hardest.

"..when you do something new, you go from 0 to 1." Peter Thiel

Interesting story you can tell

I feel that "growth hacking" is the term used mostly for what I'm doing now. It's just that "hacker" is not a word you want to use when talking to customers. So for now I'm sticking with the title Head of Growth, which in my case is a kind of combined CMO/CTO role, with currently a slightly stronger focus on the M than the T.

Marketing campaign that succeeded

With a total marketing expenditure of less than 1000€ on both SEO and social media marketing combined managed to get an average of 2 incoming leads per day in just a few months [and growing, this is currently much higher] when we simultaneously got do some conversion rate optimization.