Finding your AHA moment


I watched this video last night. Its actually the third time I’ve watched it. Its that good. Its Chamath Palihapitiya on “How facebook got on the path to 1 billion users”. He was the former VP of Growth at Facebook, and now is the founder of Social+Capital, a VC firm. Its easily the best talk I’ve seen about startups. Its a no-holds barred look at growth and product.

In essence, these are the 3 things a startup must do:

1) Focus on building core product value.

2) Get users to experience core product value as soon as possible. This is the “AHA” moment and it needs to happen in seconds.

3) Get the largest % of our target market to experience core product value as quickly as possible. This is the definition of growth.

For Facebook, the AHA moment is getting a user to 7 friends in 10 days. When this happens, the user can experience the magic of Facebook. When they have this minimum number of connections they will be an active user and it will tie them into the platform. Hat tip to my buddy Jason Allan for finding this video and his post on product is the key to growth hacking.

I also like this image summary by Brian Balfour which summarises it nicely  in ”product vs marketing vs growth“.

core product value

Twitter AHA moment is…?

I’ve been reading about Twitter having issues with retaining users. They’ve been able to get 1 billion people to sign-up but only 25% are active. The biggest issue I see is around experiencing that “AHA” moment. When they on-board new users, its actually quite difficult to figure out what it does. I signed up and tried it out in mid-2007, but I didn’t get it. It wasn’t until 6 months later, I signed in again but I still didn’t have anyone to talk to. The AHA moment for me, was when a friend I was following posted a public tweet, and I responded to my friend immediately. She then responded back instantaneously. I was like I get it – you can post a public status update and anyone can respond. As you follow more people and see what they are saying, and start following brands, celebrities it builds more density in the network to tie you in.

Twitter on-boarding process

Twitter on-boarding process

Josh Elman, who worked at Twitter provided this insight on the “only metric that matters“:

“At Twitter, we found that if you visited Twitter at least 7 times in a month, then it was likely you were going to be visiting Twitter in the next month, and the next month, and the next month. And we decided this was enough initially to be “really using it”, though of course I think Twitter gets even better when people use Twitter every day or more.”

So not only does twitter need to communicate to you how to use the service and get you to that core value proposition in seconds of you signing up, it also has another focus – getting you to visit at least 7 times. Once it can do that, knows that it has you. You’ll come back again, and again because you’ve experienced core product value.

My Uber AHA moment

A user needs to experience that AHA moment as soon as possible, and as many times as possible. The best experience I’ve had regarding this was using Uber in San Francisco. Being able to connect my credit card, then order a ride at the push of a button. A car came within 5 minutes to pick me up. That is a killer AHA moment. To know that I have the power to be able to hail a cab whenever I felt like it. In essence, as Uber’s slogan prescribes “my own private driver”. The whole process was seamless from when I ordered the cab to getting inside and then to my destination. I didn’t have to pull out my wallet to pay for the ride. It was effortless.

My private Uber driver

My private Uber driver

I experienced this AHA moment multiple times whenever I ordered the cab and took a ride. In fact, I used it everyday, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day. I probably spent about $400 USD on Uber rides in my one month in San Francisco. Not only did I experience it, I wanted to share the experience with my friends. I invited my friend Kiran and referred him as I was able to get a $20 credit. I did the same thing with Lyft as well. We were part of the growth engine. Getting more users to experience the AHA moment. They in turn experienced the AHA moment, and referred more people to get the credit and because they loved the service.

Pixc’s AHA moment

One of the startups I’ve been helping out is PIXC which is part of Telstra’s Muru-D accelerator program. Its a service that removes the background in an image. Its particularly useful if you have an eCommerce store. If you look at any eCommerce store today, the background has been removed and it has a white background. Here is an example of ASOS’s pages for daily new products.

ASOS new products

ASOS new products page

When I was helping Holly pitch her startup to Telstra, I had to test out the product. So I found the hardest picture I could find to remove the background. It was a picture of a bicycle wheel with spokes. I figured this would be a pain in the ass for someone to remove the background and a fairly good test.

Before PIXC

Before PIXC

Within a couple of hours, I received an email in my inbox with a link to download the image below. That was the AHA moment. When I looked at the new image and thought wow, someone did this so quickly. If I had tried to do it myself, it probably would have taken at least two hours if not longer. Images could be done for $2 a piece and I thought “well if I was doing this it would definitely cost more than $2!”.

After PIXC

After PIXC

I also tried out a few other variations like with this profile picture below.

Profile Pic

Before PIXC


After PIXC

After PIXC v1


After PIXC v2

Getting this image back in the same day made me experience another AHA moment.

More on the AHA moment

A lot of startups celebrate the fact that they have X number of downloads (thousands, millions), registrations, page views etc… But this is broken. Its a vanity metric. Savvy people know that it doesn’t mean jack. It does mean something – you can generate demand. However the rest of the experience needs to live up to it. Its a short term view to focus on things like downloads and registration, and getting more people to download. We need to be focusing on 1) building core product value 2) getting people to experience that value as soon as possible.

Its analogous to building up a line-up of people outside the opening of a new nightclub (hype). When you get inside, its dark, the music is bad, the drinks are expensive, decor is horrible, and worst of all its actually empty (wait…aren’t most nightclubs like this?). There’s no point shoving more people into the top of the funnel (i.e. getting more people to line-up) if the rest of the experience doesn’t match it. Those customers are likely to leave and never come back again, and will not refer anyone. In fact, they’ll tell people “I had a horrible experience with that product/venue/service and I wasted my time and money on it”. This will hurt you in the long run.

If we can get the user to have an amazing experience with our service, an “AHA” moment, we can get them to come back (retention) and to recommend it to their friends (referral). We need to be removing all barriers to getting to AHA, and enabling the user to get there as quickly as possible. Then get them to experience it as many times as possible, and having them spread the word about it.

I’m out like the Charlotte Bobcats in the playoffs,

Matt Ho

YouTube video – Full Stack Marketing, Cold Emails, and Bionic Man


My latest episode of Matthew Ho TV on YouTube. Check it out here:

After a brief hiatus, my I’m back with a new YouTube video! In this episode I discuss:
1. Full stack marketing. Growth hacking slideshare:
2. Receiving cold emails / meeting requests:
3. Becoming a bionic man
4. Shoutout to

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CIA’s New Facebook Program


Great work from The Onion!

CIA’s ‘Facebook’ Program Dramatically Cut Agency’s Costs

Audio Book Review: Remote – Office Not Required (2014)


I’ve recently finished this audiobook called “Remote: Office Not Required” by 37signals. Its about remote working. I highly recommend it as its how we work at Native Tongue Apps. I shared this email with my team and thought I would post it on my blog too for my readers.

As its an audio book, you can listen to it in the background while you do work, walking or travelling on train/bus/plane. Its 3 hours. Very easy to consume and listen to. I also listened to “Rework” by 37signals whilst on the plane and highly recommend that too.

Remote: Office not required by 37 signals

Some good tips I got out of it

1. Remote doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. You can be in a cafe, co-working space, or travelling somewhere to also give you a fresh perspective.

2. Have a 4 hour overlap between overseas offices. You need some kind of overlap to ensure remote workers can communicate and not have to wait a day.

3. Virtual water cooler: we can do this. I have been looking into using to facilitate exchange of ideas, collaboration and just general office chat.

4. Have a routine and an area where you do work which is like a home office. I have this, but also occasionally work from my room as well. I need to get better at sticking to work hours (9am – 5pm) and then after hours where necessary.

5. Communication methods
a. Email can suffice the majority of time so people don’t get interrupted (80% of questions can be answered via email)
b. Then instant chat like Skype chat or gtalk – most people are concise using chat (15%)
c. phone call if urgent or needs further clarification (5%)

6. There are large companies like, IBM, McKinsey, etc.. also embracing remote working.

There’s a lot of things in this book we are already doing at my company, and many more that we can learn from them.

I give the book 7.5/10.

The future of work

I believe the future of work is working remotely. There are obvious advantages of working in the office where you can have serendipitous moments. But you can do that remotely too. For example, in our team we also have times where we hangout together online on google hangout to exchange ideas & brainstorm. We’re in constant communication using google hangout, skype, email, phone and our project management tool.

I’ve met many startups where they hire remote workers. Post a task on Odesk, Fiverr, 99designs, etc.. Someone will pick up the task, you relay instructions, and you work with them over the internet, then you pick up the finished task. The web is like an interface where you can work with anyone, anywhere in the world. You can access talent from anywhere, and the best talent as well. In the past week, I’ve worked with people from Melbourne, Florida (USA), Norfolk (UK), and Philippines. I’ve also blogged about it here in “A Plug & Play World“.

I roughly spend about 50% of my time working from home, 30% at Fishburners co-working space, and 20% on the road. On the road working from another office, meeting a client, travelling or at an event.

What are your thoughts on working remotely? Any tips you’d like to share?

I’m out like working in an office,

Matt Ho

IFTTT – automate the internets


If This Then That (IFTTT) allows you to easily create business rules to automate tasks on the internet. Its actually really easy to use – you simply click on the two services that you want to sync, and select some basic predefined business rules. For many of the things you want to do, someone in the community has probably thought of it and already created a recipe. It looks a bit more intimidating to use than it actually is. Just go to “browse” and start looking through some recipes.

IFTTT logo

Here are some recipes that I am using. I’ve been running them for a few months now.

1. Save Twitter Favourites to Pocket app: Tweets containing links that I favourite I can read later on the Pocket reading app. I usually don’t have time to read it right when I see it. As twitter is a fast media consumption app where I skim through tweets. I also usually use twitter on the go. I’d like to have a bit more time to read longer articles so I will favourite a tweet and want to come back to it later. Pocket is a great app for saving links and you can create a list of articles. You can also archive ones you have read. Using IFTTT I can combine the best of both worlds with this recipe. You can find the recipe here in my public profile.


2. Save Evernote links to Google Drive: It creates a row in a spreadsheet in google drive. So I can refer to it later on.

3. Save Buffer shares to Evernote: I can keep track of all the social media links I’m sharing and there’s a record of it.

IFTTT buffer shares to evernote

4. Save Pocket app links to Evernote: So I can search for these links in evernote.

I’m also running cloudhq to sync my google drive to dropbox. It seems faster and more reliable than IFTTT. Though I need to test it further.

Hi Mom recipe!

This is probably the best one I’ve come across and the funniest. Its what prompted this blog post. I figured that most people don’t know what IFTTT so I wanted to give an intro to my readers (plus its just an awesome service).

When you check in foursquare, it emails your mom/mum that you have checked in and you can tell her where you are for extra brownie points. So you can reap the benefits of a special meal next time you’re home!



Final note

I use a lot of online services from evernote, google drive, dropbox, buffer. It feels like they are siloed. IFTTT, CloudHQ and other similar services provide a way to automate, backup and share information easily. It allows me to easily plug into and connect services without any programming required.

I’m very bullish on these services as information is become more fragmented. My pictures are on instagram or my checkins are on foursquare, but there’s no one place for me to find them. I feel like I’m building all this information in various places. That’s fine because with IFTTT, it connects them together. Its like the invisible plumbing of the internet and makes these services even more useful.

I highly recommend you to check out IFTTT. Let me know what your favourite recipe is!

I’m out like cookbook recipes,

Matt Ho

Vegemite sandwiches, fairy bread and level LL


Watching the announcement of Muru-d’s top 10 startups live. Stoked that LimeRocket and Pixcapp got in!

2014-02-02 23.29.22


2014-02-02 16.07.28

watching superbowl in berkley

home made cornbread

home made cornbread. this was awesome!

Americans don’t seem to like Vegemite for some reason….

vegemite sandwich

vegemite sandwich

fairy bread

Served at Australian kids parties and berkley superbowl parties

But they like fairy bread…

2014-02-02 12.57.40

2014-02-02 12.57.48

odwalla fruit smoothie

odwalla fruit smoothie. tastes amazing!

2014-02-02 13.26.20

2014-02-03 16.25.04

chairman bao food truck

chairman bao food truck

2014-02-03 13.48.13


I went to level LL

2014-02-03 13.41.28

This is what I found…..

What I found on level LL

Elevator Pitch From My Lyft Driver Max Volz


Only in San Francisco would your driver be a web developer and working on a startup.

Lyft is a service I’ve been using to get rides from other drivers. They’re not taxis or car services. Its a community of drivers. Some do it part time to supplement their income while others are full-time drivers.

I started talking to Max Volz, the Lyft driver and he’s been a lyft driver for 1.5 months and loving it. He’s also working on a startup and looking for a web developer gig.

He doesn’t have any formal qualifications in web development but has worked on a number of web and mobile apps. From games, utility apps, and mapping apps. Also has experience in online marketing. If you are looking to hire a junior web developer, reach out to Max at He’s a very cool guy!

I’ve caught a number of lyft and uber rides over the last 3 days. He’s the first tech entrepreneur / developer I’ve come across.

If you are interested in using Lyft, sign up here using my referral link.

I’m out like taxi rides,
Matt Ho