How Ankur Nagpal is building Ocho in public
Here's a case study and key lessons from Ocho's story so far
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Every once in a while, I see a great founder living and breathing the philosophy of building in public and it makes me deeply happy. In today’s edition, I wanted to uncover what I love about how Ankur has been building Ocho, a new fintech startup in public over the last few months.
I’ve been a fan of Ankur’s execution from afar, followed and bookmarked his tweets and other content and this case study is my way to showing appreciation to his unique ‘method’ while extracting key lessons and tips for you. So let’s get started.
Ocho is a fintech startup that wants to make it easier for business owners to set up and manage their own 401(k) retirement accounts. Here’s more on them from Techcrunch.
Who’s behind Ocho?
Ankur Nagpal (the main founder) who previously co-founded and sold Teachable for a quarter billion dollars. He has assembled a rockstar team but for this case study, I will mostly cover his content.
What stands out in Ankur’s build in public strategy?
Ankur has chosen Twitter to be the main channel for building in public accompanied by the company newsletter as a secondary source.
In the last few months, he executed the following BIP strategies, some as one-off tweets and others as detailed threads:
#1 Teach in public
Ankur suddenly didn’t become a finance expert to millions of people in one day. He simply and steadily shared what he knew about finance but by doing so consistently, he educated the public on key concepts relevant to his niche like “Backdoor Roth 401k” and “W2 income offset” etc. thereby building massive credibility as a NICHE EXPERT on finance. In my view, this obviously gives him an edge as a founder entering fintech market.
#2 Show behind-the-scenes
Ankur is a king of building suspense and curiosity. This is a fantastic technique because people love stories that are unfolding right in front of their eyes (timelines) across weeks. It’s the equivalent of turning your mundane day into a reality show episode.
He would share stuff like this all the time:
His Twitter feed bursts with energy and excitement because he shares daily recaps, small wins (like this here and here) and even the not so fun moments of the journey.
#3 Validate in public
In the early stages of a your journey, your startup has tons of risk. The biggest of them all is whether people actually even want it. It’s nearly impossible to get a strong sense of validation without talking to potential customers. But Ankur deployed a clever strategy. He dropped a mega thread on the topic of Solo 401k as part of his finance threads and offered to help make an intro to a ‘hypothetical’ company if people showed enough interest. See below:
The thread blew up and so many people showed interest via DMs where they were asked to fill out a quick survey. He even validated their interest in paying for the service too (This is extra awesome).
#4 Don’t just share updates, tell stories
A ton of founders wait until a huge PR moment (like a Techcrunch feature, funding round or a Product Hunt launch) to begin sharing their startup story. But Ankur kept sharing stories, nuggets of Ocho’s vision and the pitch over time. Also, he repeats it over and over again. Why? Because generally people are busy and they forget stuff and also new people who discovered you recently might need context.
And finally the PR moment did come, here’s a brilliantly crafted launch thread. And yeah, Techcrunch wrote about them too.
These are all impressive moves from Ankur but the one that takes the cake for me is that he actually openly shared his entire plan ahead of time. That’s dope. Kudos!
So, there you have it. That was my personal breakdown of Ankur’s BIP strategy.
Let me summarize all this in a few key lessons and takeaways:
Don’t hold back, be extra prolific when it comes to sharing content that can teach/empower people
In the span of 5 months, Ankur shipped 20+ threads on the niche of personal finance and tax strategies. Published a thread every week filled with clear & targeted insights.
This not only helps with Twitter’s algorithm because it leads to more visibility since you are being more consistent, it also helps you stay top of mind to thousands of people every day (your potential customers, investors, employees, ME 👀 etc.)
Celebrate small wins, yes even the tiniest of wins. Ankur had a major multi-million dollar exit in the past but his posts about getting that 1st customer and then 10 makes you appreciate his gratitude and root for Ocho’s success. If you introspect for a moment, you will find tons of small wins each day about your startup journey, share them too.
Don’t assume everyone knows what you know. Ankur’s threads on finance and tax tips are perhaps obvious to any CPA or accountants out there, but he didn’t stop because of this limiting belief. He openly shared his insights and built credibility. There’s no need to appear super smart, just be you and share what you deeply know. It might be new and helpful information for others.
Be transparent and authentic. Despite being in fintech, the so-called “tough market to be transparent” about, Ankur finds ways to share stuff publicly that is obviously NOT sensitive customer data. In this example, he shares how much he paid for the ocho. com domain. I love it!
As you build momentum with your Twitter content, make sure you gradually nudge people to sign up to your newsletter too. Why? Because then you are not dependent on Twitter’s algorithmic changes and you can share updates/launches directly with people who have opted in. This is an amazing lead generation/customer acquistion move. The link to the newsletter is here.
Anyway, if you’re an early stage startup founder, I’d definitely watch Ankur’s work closely. Especially his GTM strategy.
Note: Oh, here’s Ankur’s reaction when this case study went live ⤵️
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And that’s a wrap for now!
Thank you for giving your attention and checking this edition out.
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