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Foti started GrowthMentor in 2018. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on GrowthMentor?
I graduated with a degree in Finance back in 2007 but never ended up using that degree.
After University I ended up heading growth at EuroVPS, a managed hosting provider, as their first marketing hire. With zero experience in marketing and nobody to show me the ropes, I ended up having to learn everything by myself through trial and error.
From not setting 301 redirects after site redesigns to burning shit loads of money hiring fancy agencies that didn’t deliver, I’m proud to say that I’ve made almost every noob mistake in the book!
Besides just learning from mistakes (active learning), I spent thousands of hours learning from blog posts and courses (passive learning). But I noticed that my productivity was inversely correlated to the amount of content that I consumed.
The more blog posts I’d read, the less time I had to actually produce meaningful work.
Fast forward to 2016 and I stumbled on a way to growth hack my learning curve while dramatically reducing the time spent on passive (non-productive) learning. Instead of hiring freelancers to “do the thing for me,” I’d hire them for a mini-consultation on a Skype call to learn from their experiences and get feedback on my work.
Below is an example of one of those Upwork job postings:
Benefits of these calls:
- Increased my confidence to forge forward and execute. It feels amazing to hear from an expert with more experience than you that “You’ve set it up great! Good job!”
- Decreased my indecisiveness and decision paralysis dramatically.
- Learned tips and tricks are relevant to my specific workflows and toolkit. You never know what gold nugget of inside information you can get from a 30-minute call.
- I built relationships with really interesting people that I could contact again in the future.
- I got to rubber duck myself (rubber ducking is basically all about talking through a problem out loud. When you talk out loud, more parts of your brain are engaged, and this helps with problem-solving)
This was the genesis of GrowthMentor.
I figured, “I’m just a typical person who has typical problems,” so if this works for me, it’ll probably work for other people too. Because growth is hard, and sometimes, you just need to talk to someone about it.
On June 18th, 2017 I registered the domain GrowthMentor.io and set out to create a purpose-built platform where marketers and founders could easily book mini-mentorship sessions with super experienced growth practitioners (at startup-friendly price points).
The next 6 months were spent validating the pain point through a simple twitter bootstrap template I bought off of Themeforest and $500 in Google Ads budget. The early access leads were qualified using a Typeform survey to get as much insight into what the biggest pain points marketers and founders have in their journey towards growth.
The biggest pain point we isolated from the data was loneliness.
I knew if I didn’t go all-in on this idea I’d never be able to live with the regrets of “what if.”
At that time I had just put a deposit on a mint gunmetal grey BMW 335i I’d been saving up for over a year to buy.
BMW 335i vs. building your first startup. Guess who won?
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder @ Starter Story
- Wiki Updater