Wen Marketing? Growing the First Open-Source Cloud
- Apr 15, 2021
- 9 min read
For me it started at the age of 7. After escaping landmines in the jungle of Cambodia, I had my first marketing role ever--convincing Khmer Rouge soldiers to let us cross the border to Thailand, and to the beginning of freedom.
My path to Akash Network, and to the decentralized future of the cloud, was not a linear one. I’m drawn to audacious challenges and transformative solutions that improve human experience.
From Star Wars, to 3D Printed Rockets, to DeCloud
Over the past 18 years, I’ve helped materialize ideas and solutions that have never existed before, at companies including Relativity, Eventbrite, AdRoll, Lucasfilm / Disney, Square Enix, Ubisoft, and Nintendo. I’ve developed and launched top 10 selling Star Wars, Tomb Raider, and Nintendo products.
In the last 10 years, I’ve helped founders realize their visions--the bigger, the better, and grown three early-stage startups to profitability and unicorn status ($1+ billion market cap).
I met Akash Network’s CEO, Greg Osuri when I was still at Relativity helping build humanity’s multi-planetary future with robots, 3D printing, and rockets. Coming from a country devastated by authoritarian control, Greg’s vision of a permissionless, self-sovereign, censorship-resistant, and decentralized open-source cloud deeply resonated with me.
As more of our work and play continues to move online, an open-source cloud is critical for increasing access, freedom, privacy, and sovereignty for builders of the Internet, and empowers people around the world with control over their online future.
In my 20 years in Silicon Valley, Akash was one of the few companies I’d encountered that leveraged blockchain to solve a problem that almost all organizations faced--the ability to grow and scale, fast.
Inspired by Akash’s potential to transform the next generation of the Internet, I joined first as an Advisor, and after helping Relativity raise its Series C, I joined full-time as Chief Growth Officer to help build the world’s first open-source cloud, and to drive global awareness, engagement, and growth.
Bootstrapping Growth for the World’s First Decentralized Cloud
In October 2019 when I joined, I was fortunate to convince Michael Gushansky to join me as Marketing and Community Manager. Coming from music, events, and auto industries, Michael’s extensive capabilities in online and offline community building, and his award-winning work in Sales and Customer Service in startup environments convinced me that he would thrive at our (then scrappy) enterprise.
A little known fun fact is that Michael happens to be a renowned DJ, and both of us are also music and event promoters in California, which is how we first met.
As a tiny but mighty Growth team of two, with limited resources and no budget, we had no time or money to waste. We couldn’t afford to make many mistakes. We studied similar projects and startups that had both failed and succeeded. We canvassed their channels and their content, tracked the tone and message volume of their social media, and then we experimented.
I brought best practices from over 18 years of building some of the world’s most beloved brands, and we leveraged the four pillars I’d leaned on to bootstrap my previous startups to hyper-growth and profitability--Content, Community, Campaigns, and Communications.
Content is the fuel for marketing and community efforts. Relevant and valuable content delivered through multiple channels is the foundation for acquisition and retention efforts, especially with the dramatic shift in the buying process and attention economy.
- 94% use online research in their purchase journey
- 3x more traffic to B2B websites with 11+ blogs/month
- 67% complete buy process prior to brand engagement
Why is content at the core of my growth strategy? Content optimizes online channels so the right prospects find us, increases brand awareness and preference, influences purchase path and decision, and generates quality leads for less money. I also noticed that most of our analogues in crypto didn’t invest in content, and realized it had the additional benefit of differentiating us from other projects.
Instrumental to our content efforts is Creative Content Manager and Visual Designer Olive Kimoto, a creative polymath who joined us last May.
In addition to product, partnership, exchange, and team announcements, we also feature topics across cloud, crypto, and the future of dWeb. We’ll continue to expand our global content and cadence while leveraging content marketing and SEO best practices.
A healthy, supportive, and self-sustaining global community is essential to the success of Akash. Over the past year (in one of his three full-time roles at Akash), Michael has successfully led a dedicated global community team to build one of the largest communities in the Cosmos ecosystem.
This past year, we expanded our global community to China with the help of our Chinese Community Manager and OG Group co-founder Alex Wang, and to Russia with the dedicated efforts of our Russian Community Manager Andrew Hnatiuk, and now, Korea.
The foundation of our community growth is an exceptional member experience, content, and cadence.
Integrating campaigns across content, community, communications, and acquisition marketing enabled us to exceed key Growth metrics for Akash’s utility token, AKT, and for Akash DeCloud. The weekly cadence of our campaigns enabled us to grow exponentially, as each channel was maximized to reinforce and strengthen our brand and positioning.
Our biweekly content and community promotions, as well as our Supermini pre-order campaign last year, allowed us to test and optimize across new channels. In the coming months, Michael will be focused on scaling our Growth Marketing funnel.
As the fourth Growth pillar, communications encompasses thought leadership, public relations, analyst relations, events, and influencer marketing. I've helped take early stage startups to growth stage and unicorn status with communications as a key driver--it's a growth multiplier when done right.
After a long search, we were thrilled to have Kelsey Ruiz join the Dream Team as Head of Communications this past quarter. An award-winning Communications specialist with extensive experience building large developer communities, Kelsey previously directed communications at Ethereum Classic Labs, Leaf Group, and AngelHack, where she managed 50+ events and hackathons globally for a community of 175,000 developers.
Kelsey will develop and run online and offline content and communications programs that will inspire and engage global audiences with our vision. She'll help drive brand and product awareness and engagement among journalists, influencers, and developers.
2020 Growth Results
In only one year, we launched and promoted 4 successful testnets, including the three phases of The Akashian Challenge, and the historic MVP of the world’s first open-source cloud, Akash MAINNET 2.
We worked with CEO, Greg Osuri to develop specs for the Akash Supermini portable supercomputer, and progressed the design with creative duo Guillermo Sanchez del Corral and Rafael Saenz of debuti, and industrial designer Sungbum Park.
In the second half of this year, we announced partnerships with Solana, Kava, Cosmos, Tendermint, Interchain Foundation, Chainlink, and Equinix Metal, the largest data center provider in the world. We also announced five exchange partnerships starting with BitMax (now AscendEx), with Gate.io as our latest listing partner.
Additional Growth Results:
- In the past 52 weeks, we’ve launched 111 blog articles--about 2+ articles a week.
- Grew Twitter from 800 to 28,000 followers and counting
- Grew Telegram from 1,000 to 14,400 members--one of the largest in the Cosmos ecosystem
- Produced 3 Chinese Community Summits with 4,000+ attendees each
- Established Akash Russian Telegram, the largest in the Cosmos Ecosystem
- Produced over 70 global AMAs/Interviews
Growth in Q2 2021
Now that Akash MAINNET 2 has launched, our team will be focused on the following objectives for the next quarter:
- Accelerate global awareness of Akash DeCloud and Akash Token (AKT)
- Drive product adoption among developers and organizations in the decentralized ecosystem
- Increase access to AKT
Want to learn how we’re planning to achieve these goals? Join us this Friday, April 16, at 9 am PST, for the Wen Marketing? Livestream. Bring your questions to our Q&A, and win exclusive giveaways.