Academy Xi Blog

A Community of Growth Hackers Working on $0 Budget

By Academy Xi

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A growth marketer’s problem is thinking about how to get a customer in the door and nurture them into becoming revenue. From door to revenue, there are numerous funnels a customer may take and sometimes it’s a bumpy road.

According to a 2014 Gartner Research study, companies spend — on average — 10.2 percent of their annual revenue on marketing. For small startups, 10 percent is a lot of money, and for not-for-profits, that’s an insane amount!   

It’s much harder for not-for-profit organisations to growth market, as they need to draw the attention of a particular niche: the donator.

In having limited resources and time, finding a way to hack into that explosive growth is crucial for not-for-profits.

Earlier this month, Academy Xi reached out to three not-for-profits: Madeline and Alannah Foundation, Startout, and eOrygen — and connected them with hackers and agencies to help them find a path to explosive growth.

This connection transformed into our Growth Hack Idol competition, where each organisation has the chance to win a coveted “Golden Metric” crown, but more importantly, learn the skills and techniques of growth hacking.

In working on a $0 budget, hackers and agencies gave up their time to work on each not-for-profit’s area of opportunity. They’ve already made headway in growing their organisations, with some really inventive growth hacks.

We caught up with those involved in the competition to see how they’re tracking and if they’ll be ready to present for our final event: Growth Hack Idol: The Results.

Alannah and Madeline Foundation

What they’ve achieved so far:

  • Utilising social media to attract a new audience
  • Identification of new demographic: mums with young children
  • Assessment of web page with new curated content and design to improve event landing pages

“We just haven’t had time for social media, yet it’s a cornerstone of everything we do,” says Caroline Henricks, head of marketing at the Alannah and Madeline Foundation. “This exercise has really helped to focus us.”


What they’ve achieved so far:

  • The launch of their startup, which received a special mention in Federal Parliament
  • Engagement of regional networks
  • Improvements on SEO, increasing website traffic by 20 percent
  • Additional 350 likes on Facebook

“They’re the ideal client in the sense that they’ve put a lot of hard yakka into the brand and the mentor network that they have,” says Ian Hopkinson from Mad Scientist Digital Agency. “I wish all of our clients were like this because I’m leaping out of bed in the morning!”


What they’ve achieved so far:

  • Speaking engagement at Healthtech event
  • Creation of mailing list
  • Building of landing pages and calls to action
  • 14 confirmed product ambassadors, on the way to 100

“Everything seems to be moving a lot faster than what we originally thought,” says Erica Jolly, from Milk It Academy. “We’re getting far more engagement than expected!”

And it’s not too late for you to participate! Put yourself in the middle of the action with Growth Hack Idol: The Results. If you’re not a hacker, you’re a judge. You will be involved in deciding the winner across a series of categories that include “the most creative use of data,” “the best metric” and the “audience prize.”

Academy Xi Blog

How to Tap into Explosive Growth

By Academy Xi

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If you’re interested in growth marketing, then you have probably been to one of the growth hacking meetups in Sydney or Melbourne. There are over 4,000 active participants of the community who are always looking for ways to upskill, influence and leverage.

The term growth hacker was first coined back in 2010 by Sean Ellis, previous head of growth at Dropbox and founder of Since then, startups have been exploring and experimenting with ways to increase growth and scale.

Arguably, one of the most talked about growth marketing success stories comes from Airbnb. In 2010, Airbnb tapped into the user base of Craigslist: a user base of millions, which propelled the startup into a rapid growth stage.

Today, growth hackers and marketers are in popular demand. For entrepreneurs building new businesses, growing and scaling can prevent them from drowning in a sea of similar ideas.

For entrepreneur Rob Price, growth marketing was not his strong suit, however he knew he had to tap into the right markets and grow his idea before another popped up. In being a small startup and not having the capacity to hire a large team, Rob took it upon himself to learn the skills of growth marketing at Academy Xi.

“I could have just read a bunch of blogs and tried to have a play, but sitting with growth experts in a 10-week course, two nights a week, gave me a really solid foundation and a more targeted approach to [growth marketing],” Rob explains.

Rob entered the course at the same time he launched his startup: Mashay. The startup helps friends and work mates find and book group experiences. Mashay partners with companies like Young Henrys, Salt Meats Cheese and Cake Wines to curate the best group activities.

“A lot of group activities don’t happen because they get put into the too hard basket. Either it’s too hard to organise your mates, or it’s too hard to find the right experience for the group,” Rob explains.

Rob chose to work on Mashay during the day and learn the skills of growth marketing at night. Instead of going to growth hacking meetups, Rob extended his work day with the growth marketing part-time course.

“90 percent of what we covered was directly relevant to what Mashay was tackling at any point in time. As I was going through the course I was adding tickets on JIRA for what we should do, purely on the basis of what we were talking about,” says Rob.

The biggest challenge for Rob, wasn’t juggling his time, but juggling his skills.

“When you begin a startup there’s so many skill domains that it’s impossible for one person to be comfortable in all those domains,” he explains.

Through learning about growth marketing, Rob gained a better understanding of how other startups were building their marketing stack.

“Before I would have just jumped at the first person who came along with growth marketing experience, which would have potentially been bad for the business,” Rob admits.

Since launch Mashay has grown 15 percent week on week and is now starting to dive into more partnerships around Sydney, and will look to launch in Brisbane and Melbourne within the next 12 months.

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