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Nathan Chan is the CEO & Publisher of Foundr Magazine - A multi-faceted digital media company focusing on entrepreneurship serving 1m+ entrepreneurs across their platform.

Foundr is a bootstrapped startup that has become one of the Top 10 'Business & Investing' Magazines on the app store. Nathan has had the pleasure of interviewing some of the most accomplished founders all around the world including Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Daymond John & many more!

He's obsessed with growth, startups and marketing with a particular interest for Instagram and has built the @foundrmagazine account from 0-500K followers in 12 months which has rapidly accelerated the growth of the business.

You can follow him on Twitter: @NathanHChan and FoundrMag on Instagram: @foundrmagazine.

He will be live on March 3 starting 12 pm PST for one and a half hours and will answer as many questions as possible in that time.

  • MM

    martín medina

    over 2 years ago #

    Nathan! Thanks for doing this AMA, heard so much about Foundr and your hustle, particularly your Instagram success. What tips and tools do you have or use for growing an Instagram following? Also how have you taken the lessons you learned from growing your following on Instagram to other platforms?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Martin, you're most welcome! OK Here are the tools in our TOOLBOX for Instagram Growth:

      - Latergramme - For scheduling and batching posts. This allows to produce 4-8 pieces of content a day
      - Ink361.com - This tool allows us to run scans on other Instagram accounts so we can work out the most popular content (likes/comments) in our niche for our target audience
      - Socialblade - This is a great tool for tracking account growth
      - Iconosquare - This is another great tool for Instagram analytics + our VA uses it to do all of our commenting on posts, and writing back to our community
      - Crowdfire - We used this tool in the early days to follow targeted users

      In regards to the lessons learned on Instagram and taking that to other platforms. I think one of the biggest is S4S (share 4 share). Doing partnerships on other platforms, and getting big influencers to share your content is extremely critical for growth on all social media platforms. We will be doing this for snapchat, and have a plan to master snapchat.

      9 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        over 2 years ago #

        Boom!
        Probably the first "Instagram Stack" I've ever seen mentioned in public.

        One follow up question if it's kosher to ask - what's the monthly cost of the tools themselves + VAs?

      • MM

        martín medina

        over 2 years ago #

        Thanks for sharing, looks like I'm going to be adding some of these tools to my own toolkit soon. Interested to hear what you guys do with Snapchat, keep up the good work!

  • DF

    Diane Florescu

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Nathan,

    Glad to see you're doing this AMA. What do you think about Facebook's new Canvas launch for mobile advertising? To what extent do you see this tool to be more efficient than an Instagram Carousel Ad?

    P.S. Based on your vast experience, what platform - FB vs. Instagram - performs best in terms of conversion rate ?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Diane, it's fantastic to be here!

      I think Facebook's new canvas launch is very interesting. We haven't tried them yet! However my gut tells me that they wouldn't convert that well, as they are very focused on the visual experience. For us we've been testing lead ads, and just normal ads to landing pages and have got our conversions down to as low as 80c a lead on FB & IG ads.

      In terms of conversion I can tell you that when we send Instagram organic traffic to this landing page - www.foundrmag.com/free (it converts at up to 75%), and on facebook paid traffic (it converts at 60%), but I think lead quality source is better on facebook is much better.

      4 Share
      • DF

        Diane Florescu

        over 2 years ago #

        Thanks, Nathan! It's really useful to know this especially when it comes to put a fork in the road and decide on testing for your future ad campaigns.

    • ES

      Edward Stephens

      over 2 years ago #

      Great question - Canvas gives people a whole other medium to work with.

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    over 2 years ago #

    Nathan - awesome to have you on obviously!

    I've got a bunch of questions to throw your way......

    1) The Foundr magazine - what sparked its inception? The instagram strategy, I suspect you had an inkling it would work but did you do it as a foray into Insta that then kicked off or has it all panned out as scheduled?

    2) I'm half Australian and know you come from the land-down-under. What movements have you seen in the Australian start-up scene and what do you think the years ahead look like? With Canva and yourself there are some people making decent strides, but I wonder if there is a quick migration to the valley upon success?

    3) You've interviewed some amazing people - any common traits your seeing anybody who really amazed you and surpassed your expectations?

    I think i'll leave the bombarding to that for now :)

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Edward, fantastic to be here!

      1) I started Foundr Magazine because I felt there wasn't a magazine in the space that served early stage entrepreneurs and start up founders. I just started the magazine as a side hustle project, and had no idea it would be what it is today. I also had no idea Instagram would be our no.1 source of customer acquisition. It just happened! No planning there! We've only been on Instagram since November 2014, and I launched the magazine March 2013. I wish I was trying the platform when we launched!

      2) I think Australian startup scene is definitely growing, however there will be a big mindset shift over time. We need much better support from our local government. I believe you can still build an extremely successful company out of Australia though, however nothing can beat migrating to the valley for success. Silicon Valley is a cluster.

      3) I think the biggest thing that amazes me is a lot of these people I used to look up to, and think they were aliens and super human. Now I realize they are no different nor smarter than you or I Edward. They just speak and learn from the right people, and work extremely hard and take risks.

    • DF

      Diane Florescu

      over 2 years ago #

      I had your third question on the tip of my tongue. Curious to find the answer too!

  • RS

    Ross Simmonds

    over 2 years ago #

    Hey Nathan - Great to see you here! Quick question stolen from Peter Thiel:

    Tell me something that you believe, that almost nobody agrees with you on.

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    over 2 years ago #

    Bonjour Nathan,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    I have a quick question for you regarding your Instagram growth hacking experience.

    What is the one thing you need to get right on Instagram to make it a sustainable growth channel?

    Merci!

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Partnerships! S4S (Shoutout 4 Shoutout). Getting other accounts to post your content. Once you get this right, you can really amplify the growth of your Instagram page.

      Another thing is consistency, posting very high quality content over a period of time.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        over 2 years ago #

        You mentioned S4S earlier as well.
        How do you start doing this if you're a nobody with zero/minimal following?

  • JT

    Judy Tran

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Nathan,

    Thank you for doing this and sharing your knowledge!

    Quick question, How do you convert your instagram followers into actual user?

    Thank you!

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      You're welcome Judy :)

      We produce great content that our target audience loves. Then we have constant CTA's to the link in our bio (we actually post an image about our lead magnet and tell people to click on the link in our bio). From there we push people to a landing page and use email marketing to convert them into paid customers.

      I've found people will not click on the link in your bio unless you tell them to!

      From being on Instagram in the past 14 months we've generated over 100k email subscribers exclusively from that channel.

      2 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        over 2 years ago #

        "People will not click on the link in your bio unless you tell them to!"
        I wonder how many people are missing out because of this one little thing!

  • LO

    letitiah obiri

    over 2 years ago #

    Hello Nathan, can I ask the challenges you faced in generating revenue through magazine subscriptions and advertising when many say print is dying? Do you think the print model still has potential to drive healthy sales?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      For us early on I knew that the traditional publishing model is broken. You cannot rely solely on magazine subscriptions and advertising.

      I think producing a magazine is only one part of the puzzle. If you're a magazine publisher the content play needs to be a focus on producing a multi-faceted platform. Tapping into the online education industry has been massive for us, focusing on producing content on other platforms not just for the magazine (social, podcast, blog etc.), and having a strong focus on building our email newsletter, and creating a membership site.

      I think having a magazine is extremely powerful for influence building, but you cannot solely rely on this to build a sustainable business model and to drive healthy sales. I also think print is a dying trade, which is why Foundr Magazine is a digital publication only in the AppStore & Google Play store.

      3 Share
  • DF

    Diane Florescu

    over 2 years ago #

    Nathan,

    Your interviews on Foundr are a real source of inspiration!

    Q1: We see start-ups failing/exiting the market every day. What have been your biggest challenges to date?

    Q2: What would be the single biggest indicator to you that you are doing the right thing?

    Q3: For someone looking to embark on their own start-up journey, what tips could you offer?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Diane,

      Thank you so much for the kind words :)

      Q1: Going through a law suit for trademark infringement in my first 4 months of business when I started Foundr.

      Q2: Market traction and feedback from our community

      Q3: Ship often, and speak to people that know their stuff and learn as much as you can.

      3 Share
  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 2 years ago #

    Hey Nathan

    Stoked to have you on.

    What's most different about IG than every other channel in terms of building a following/it becoming a sustainable traction channel? How did you come across this difference?

    Cheers!

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      With IG, you only have one clickable link in your bio. Now this can be your biggest asset, because you focus all your attention to getting people to click on the link your bio. You do whatever you can, to get more eyeballs to eventually click on that bio. It helps us syphon our attention on where to send people, because there is only one place.

      When I was testing the channel in the early days, I knew with followers = attention, and with attention we could move people to take other actions.

      3 Share
  • VC

    Vlad Calus

    over 2 years ago #

    Based on your experience, what would you suggest for beginner content marketers? What to strive for, which goals to set up and what to focus more in writing content for your blog/magazine/startup etc. ?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      I know this might sound like a cop out excuse, and I actually don't like when people say this, but just create really useful EPIC content.

      What makes the content EPIC? Ask yourself the question, would you want to share this with your friends because it's so good? Does it help solve a problem for you or your target audience?

      Also I think a blog is always a great way to test things. Blog comments and shares are a good indication if the content has struck a chord. The data doesn't lie.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    over 2 years ago #

    Hey Nathan, thanks for doing this AMA with us. Can you give us more insights on the type of content and frequency that your team posts on Instagram? How has this changed over time and why? Thanks!

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Sean! It's fantastic to be here! Thank you for having me :)

      We post a lot of motivational / startup quotes / tips / facts. This seems to work very well for us, because our target audience shares them like wildfire.

      We try and post more than ever now (5-8 times a day we aim for), and we just want to post the best possible content that we know will get a ridiculous amounts of likes and comments.

      Overtime though I'm feeling that we need to take a step back and post more exclusive type content of the team, and the company, and behind the scenes to make our account more exclusive. I think since I've been studying snapchat a lot before we jump into it for Foundr, this kind of content is something users love (more raw). However I don't think it helps fuel growth.

      3 Share
  • HQ

    Hila Qu

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Nathan,

    In your life and career, are there any habits or mindset that you feel help you most and what are those?

    Thanks so much for your time:)

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Hila, great question!

      I think just having a mindset of urgency, and never being complacent and always on the move has held me in good stead. I never used to be like this, but it's a habit and a growth mindset I've picked up very quickly since starting Foundr.

  • BW

    Brand Winnie

    over 2 years ago #

    Hi Nathan,

    Congrats on the success with Foundr and thanks for doing this! I have a few questions/sub-questions (haha). Feel free to answer any or all :)

    1. Can you walk us through what it was like for the first 6 months of Foundr? What did you do to get your first interviews? How did you go about it? How many times were you rejected?

    2. How important is having a solid, consistent brand in order to acquire new readers/customers and have you done any experiments with the brand that helped you to determine viability in the early stages?

    3. Does Foundr have any print magazines is or is it 100% digital?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Brand! Thank you so much for the kind words!

      1. First 6 months of Foundr was ridiculously hard and tough. I started the company with $3000 US, I knew nothing about business, entrepreneurship, marketing, magazines, designs or content. To add onto that, first 4 months of trading we were sued for trademark infringment, as the magazine originally wasn't called foundr. I didn't even have a successful person on the front cover for the first issue because no one would get back to me. So I just had start small with interviews and work my way up the chain, we published a really in depth article on how to get interviews with hard to reach people here - http://foundrmag.com/getinterviews

      2. Branding is everything for us. It's what builds trust. It's what allows people to take us seriously. Especially being a new brand in the entrepreneurship space. I think before anyone purchases anything whether it's a magazine, a boosted board or a SaaS like Qualaroo, you need to build trust with that person however you can. For us having an extremely solid brand with great content, aligning with rockstar influencers in our industry (Daymond John, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington etc.) then paying attention do design heavily has allowed us to gain traction as time has gone on. In terms of experiments for the brand, we're always just testing channels and finding out how we can make things better!

      3. We are 100% digital. We have no interest in ever doing a print run (unless it was a limited edition with some exclusivity) for fun.

  • ES

    Edward Stephens

    over 2 years ago #

    I have an additional question for you Nathan.

    1) How have you dealt with the emergence of your own profile as Foundr has continued to develop. Have you had time to build and manage your own influence? Has it opened up some interesting opportunities for you?

    2) What are your thoughts on other social channels e.g. Snapchat and how this can be leveraged?

    3) What's next for Foundr mag?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Hey Ed! Great questions!

      1) This is something to this day I'm battling with more than ever. I don't really mind about my personal brand, and have no real interest in growing it unless it helps grow Foundr which is my no.1 focus. As time is going on though, I'm slowly detaching myself from the brand, and focusing on just spreading the word and speaking out and standing up for things that I believe in. I'm doing this all with the sole intention to grow Foundr, and it is opening up some very interested opportunities, because when people speak about Foundr, they speak about my story too often!

      2) I think facebook is amazing for PAID customer acquisition, we recently got a 6x ROI on one of our campaigns that generated us 100's of thousands $. However I prefer free acquisition using tools like Instagram. Pinterest, never could wrap my head around, twitter isn't so much our thing, and I think Snapchat is the next place all the attention will be. The reason why? I think snapchat have cracked the code in regards to making the content exclusive, adding urgency and really gamifying people to come back and use the app. What's most brilliant about snap chat is there is no newsfeed, and I don't see them ever introducing this. So what this means is it's basically allowing you to have your community on text message but do big blasts about cool stuff (content around your brand or product or service). From this I think there is massive leverage here, because it's all about eyeballs. Right now Instagram and Snapchat is where a lot of eye balls around and where you can get the most engagement. With attention and engagement and trust you can drive traffic to wherever you want. ***Please note I listen to Gary Vee a lot and I interviewed him last week, so I'm probably re-hashing a lot what he has been saying about snapchat, but I really believe it to be true, we will be testing snapchat in the next month

      3) Our biggest problem right now is not having enough product to serve our community. We believe we're not better positioned than anyone to tap into this multi-billion dollar online education industry, so we plan to tap into that and serve our audience with many different courses taught by experts.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    over 2 years ago #

    One more q:
    What other startup/saas/entrepreneurship focused brands do you think are kicking ass on IG? What's so great that they're doing that the others are missing out on?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Shopify, frankbody, Daniel Wellington, Hubspot to name a few :)

      The amount of traffic you can generate for free on Instagram is crazy!

  • BW

    Brand Winnie

    over 2 years ago #

    Hey Nathan, one more thing...

    If you could give us one actionable test we can all try out on Instagram, that you think would yield the greatest results for the general audience here on GH, what would it be?

    • NC

      Nathan Chan

      over 2 years ago #

      Great one! Love this!

      Create an instagram from scratch, go to http://tagsforlikes.com/ and find the most relevant top hashtags in your industry and niche you serve. Post a photo on your Instagram, and after you post it, copy and paste the 30 hashtags as a comment on your photo and watch what happens ;)

      • AM

        Akhil MK

        over 2 years ago #

        @great tip Nathan ! I created a test account for the food niche a hour before, and have already seen some likes coming in after following your suggestion.

        Thanks Brand for the great question. We should now ask this question to each guest who comes in :)

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