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A “startup company” has become a vague term in the last few years. While there are some basic requirements a company must have in order to be considered a startup, the rest can be open to interpretation.

Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, loosely defined it as “a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed.” Another characteristic attributed to startups is their ability to grow–they are designed from the get-go to scale up rapidly. As Forbes defined it quite eloquently: “It is this focus [growth] that differentiates startups from small business. A restaurant in one town is not a start up, nor is a franchise a startup.”ù

So if you have already thought of an innovative idea and have the wheels in motion–what are the necessary steps to keep the focus on growth for your new startup and be featured in ‘The Hottest Startups’ list?

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1- Organize your contacts
Have an old high school friend who is now a journalist? Have a sister-in-law always interested in investing in new projects? Before reaching out to the unknown, make sure to contact those you know and see if you can work together. It can make a huge difference for the future of your company–today.

2- Always show appreciation
Whether someone you have never heard of has sent you a $5 donation, or you have two ‘sort-of’ relatives who have signed up to your e-mail list, always follow-up and let the person know there is a face behind the company–and that it is a grateful one.

3- Choose your key investors wisely
Never undermine the relationship you will have with your investors and think carefully and objectively before making your decision. It is easy to be tempted by offers, but as the founder of little Bits Ayah Bdeir warns: “Picking the right investors is crucial. I was given the advice that it was really important to pick the right investors because they’re partners and it’s essentially like you are getting married.”

4- Utilize social media–or find someone who can
It doesn’t matter if you personally are a “social media guru” or not to understand that proper marketing with all available channels of social media is absolutely crucial for the success of your company. Consider the case of TikTakTo, a mobile application focused on finding online deals to present to its users the best bargains the web has to offer. Among the many goals of this startup, one was to increase their presence on social media to attract more people to their service. They enlisted the help of iNexxus, a digital marketing and branding agency founded by Raffi Keuhnelian and Anthony Katz, who organized a social media campaign for the startup–utilizing SEO, design, and PR strategies. In just 6 months TikTakTo had over 100,000 new registered users, an 8.7K average weekly Facebook reach, and mentions on websites such as the Huffington Post, Mashable, and VentureBeat. Still doubting the power of social media now?

5- Keep track of what works
See what kind of posts, emails, newsletters or blog posts people really respond to and read or share. Do you have the highest engagement when showing ‘behind-the-scenes’ type content or when making videos explaining your service(s) and future plans? Whichever one works, make sure to focus on that and always monitor feedback and response.

These are the 5 simple yet necessary steps all startups need to cross off their checklist and never overlook. They are absolutely vital in contributing to the success and growth of your company and get your startup noticed!

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